Swiss authorities push back Biden’s beard ‘tax haven’
GENEVA (AP) – Swiss authorities on Friday disputed US President Joe Biden’s comment that many companies are using Switzerland and two UK territories as tax havens, with the Swiss Federal Department of Finance calling the claims “inappropriate and completely outdated” .
Arguing that wealthy Americans and businesses must pay their fair share of taxes, Biden said in a speech to Congress on Wednesday that “many businesses also escape taxes through tax havens in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. “.
Switzerland has long had the reputation of being a haven for tax evaders to dodge their money to avoid tax authorities abroad. But the Swiss authorities have made efforts to try to change the image of the country.
“Switzerland considers that this promotion of Switzerland as a tax haven by the United States is inappropriate and completely outdated,” said Federal Department of Finance spokeswoman Isabelle Roesch in an email. “Switzerland meets all international tax standards.”
Roesch said that “international bodies” since 2019 have repeatedly asserted that Switzerland meets all international tax standards, including for reporting and exchanging information on a country-by-country basis. She said a Swiss tax reform that year abolished “all tax models criticized” by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group made up of rich countries.
“The OECD confirmed this in writing to Switzerland in 2020,” Roesch said. “We reported this to the US Treasury last week because it is not the first time the new administration has made these statements.”
She said Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer would inform US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen of this information “at the earliest opportunity.”
While Biden called out offshore tax havens, anti-corruption activists say the United States should also look at the rules that help tax evaders get closer to home.
Last year, the London-based Tax Justice Network named the United States as the second-largest catalyst for financial secrecy in the world, after the Cayman Islands and ahead of Switzerland.
Delaware, the state Biden represented in the Senate for 36 years, has a long history of allowing high net worth businesses and individuals to hide the true beneficiaries of the anonymous shell companies registered there.
Tax Justice Network expert Nick Shaxson has said for many years that there is a “plague on both houses” in the United States and Switzerland, but each country has also cleaned up its act in recent years. He notably cited an American reform in the last days of the Trump administration.
“Although there has been a cleanup, Switzerland is still decidedly a tax haven,” said Shaxton, author of “Treasure Islands,” a book on tax havens. While it has become more difficult for citizens of the United States or other developed countries to hide money in Switzerland, it is still quite easy for people in “weaker” countries to do so, he said. declared.
“Every time the United States has pointed the finger at Switzerland (about tax havens) there has always been a level of hypocrisy,” Shaxton said, “it seems even more hypocritical on Biden’s part” , alluding to the president’s ties to Delaware.