On 17th July 2019, the U.S. Senate approved the 2019 Protocol to amend the Switzerland USA Double Taxation Agreement.
Formally, the protocol will enter into force on the date the instruments of ratification are exchanged.
The core element of the protocol of amendment is the exchange of information.
The protocol provides for the following changes:
- Currently there is no differentiation between tax evasion and tax fraud in Switzerland. This was in line with the international standard on information exchange. Switzerland applied this to in excess of one hundred jurisdictions however, the United States was not one of them. The protocol will erase this difference within the context of administrative assistance in relation to the U.S. It will also apply to other categories of information requests.
- For pillar 3a solutions (i.e. dividends paid to individual retirement arrangements), it will provide for an exemption from the source country (i.e. the Us) withholding 15% tax on cross border dividends from 1st January 2020 provided the protocol of amendment comes into force in 2019.
- Mandatory binding arbitration of unresolved competent authority cases will be implemented where the competent authorities cannot reach agreement in the mutual agreement procedure. This will eliminate exposure to double taxation.
- Under the new provision, the United States will be able to make group requests under the FATCA Agreement. The IRS will submit the group requests to the Swiss Federal Authority. The affected Swiss financial institutions will have ten days to deliver the required information on receipt of the request from the Swiss Federal Authority.
This milestone in the Switzerland and USA tax relationship is likely to make Switzerland far more appealing to U.S. multinationals.