( ) Swiss say in 'final phase' of tax talks with Britain

19th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland is in the "final phase" of negotiations with Britain over a tax accord on undeclared assets hidden in Swiss banks, an official told AFP Friday.

"We are in the final phase of negotiations. We should conclude them in a few weeks," said the spokesman for Bern's chief negotiator.

Switzerland has so far been only negotiating such deals with two countries -- Germany, with which it concluded an agreement last week, and Britain.

"It's a complex subject, we did not want to negotiate with too many countries at the same time," the spokesman added.

With France, "there has not been any contact for a few months," said the spokesman who noted that Paris is sceptical about Bern's proposals.

In Paris meanwhile, France said that the Swiss proposals "posed a problem for us with regard to French tax rules, but it is an object of discussions."

Italy has also shown little interest in the system put forward by Switzerland, called Rubik, which envisages a fixed tax rate for the hidden assets but which safeguards the anonymity of the account-holders.

Greece, however, has shown interest in the solution, said the spokesman.

The deal concluded between Berlin and Bern on August 10 requires Swiss banks to pay two billion francs (1.91 billion euros, $2.6 billion) to German tax authorities to regularise any hidden assets of German taxpayers.

In future, all investment income and capital gains arising from assets held by German taxpayers would also be covered by a withholding tax of 26.375 percent.

To prevent new undeclared funds from entering Swiss banks, German authorities would be able to request information on suspected tax cheats.

According to German media, between 130 and 180 billion euros are hidden in Swiss banks. These assets could therefore net up to 54 billion in taxes.

© 2011 AFP

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