Comparative Guides
Welcome to Mondaq Comparative Guides - your comparative global Q&A guide.
Our Comparative Guides provide an overview of some of the key points of law and practice and allow you to compare regulatory environments and laws across multiple jurisdictions.
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Results: 4 Answers
Corporate Tax
5.
Anti-avoidance
5.1
Are there anti-avoidance rules applicable to corporate taxpayers – if so, are these case law (jurisprudence) or statutory, or both?
 
Switzerland
Yes, anti-avoidance rules can be found both in case law and in the statutory provisions of the applicable laws. Some derive from the general interdiction of the abuse of law; others are based on explicit tax provisions.

For more information about this answer please contact: Fouad G. Sayegh from Walder Wyss Ltd.
5.2
What are the main ‘general purpose’ anti-avoidance rules or regimes, based on either statute or cases?
 
Switzerland
The main rule precludes taxpayers from adopting abusive behaviours. A behaviour is considered abusive if:

  • a given structure or transaction is seen as unusual, inappropriate or strange;
  • it must be presumed that the structure or transaction was chosen in order to avoid tax that would otherwise have been due; and
  • the structure or transaction would indeed lead to a considerable tax saving if it were accepted.
For more information about this answer please contact: Fouad G. Sayegh from Walder Wyss Ltd.
5.3
What are the major anti-avoidance tax rules (eg, controlled foreign companies, transfer pricing (including thin capitalisation), anti-hybrid rules, limitations on losses or interest deductions)?
 
Switzerland
The main rules are:

  • the abuse of law theory;
  • the concept of simulation (which is based on recourse to the underlying economic reality of a contractual arrangement);
  • the old reserve theory (resulting in the denial of a favourable treaty withholding tax rate after an allegedly abusive restructuring);
  • hidden profit distributions (where related parties are seen to be receiving an undue benefit from a company); and
  • arm’s-length adjustments.
For more information about this answer please contact: Fouad G. Sayegh from Walder Wyss Ltd.
5.4
Is a ruling process available for specific corporate tax issues or desired domestic or cross-border tax treatments?
 
Switzerland
Yes, tax rulings are very common and regularly advisable.

For more information about this answer please contact: Fouad G. Sayegh from Walder Wyss Ltd.
5.5
Is there a transfer pricing regime?
 
Switzerland
Switzerland has not enacted specific transfer pricing rules. However, the notion of dealing at arm’s length is generally observed and applied under Swiss tax laws. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines are generally observed by the Swiss tax authorities.

For more information about this answer please contact: Fouad G. Sayegh from Walder Wyss Ltd.
5.6
Are there statutory limitation periods?
 
Switzerland
The statutory limitation periods are complex and vary according to the taxes involved. The most important rules are:

  • the 10-year absolute statute of limitations for direct taxes (ie, the Federal Tax Administration can make amendments up to 10 years back if the respective legal requirements are met); and
  • a five-year ‘relative’ statute of limitations regarding withholding tax on dividends. This is relative as the Federal Tax Administration may interrupt and thus extend it indefinitely.
For more information about this answer please contact: Fouad G. Sayegh from Walder Wyss Ltd.