Switzerland signs Multilateral Convention to co-operate in tax matters


By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

Switzerland, the country known as much for its bank secrecy as for its chocolate, signed the multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in a ceremony at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris on Tuesday.

The signing marked “the end of banking secrecy” in Switzerland, according to Pascal Saint-Amans, the director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, as reported by the Agence-France Presse.  OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said in a prepared statement that Switzerland’s signing sent “a clear and strong signal that Switzerland is part of the community of states which consider international tax co-operation as a necessity. This signature is an important step for Switzerland to resolve the issues identified in its peer review by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information on June 2011.”

The multilateral convention provides for all types of international co-operation between countries in the assessment and collection of taxes to combat tax avoidance and evasion, from the exchange of information to the recovery of foreign tax claims. 

Switzerland is the 58th country to sign the convention. While the Swiss government has signed the convention, the Swiss parliament still has to ratify it, and it could, potentially, be subject to a national referendum before it is implemented.

Sally P. Schreiber (sschreiber@aicpa.org) is a JofA senior editor.