How do I check if there are government agencies

The national economy

The aim of the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) is to increase transparency and thus avoid cross-border tax evasion. To date, more than 100 countries have committed to adopting this standard: annually, they automatically exchange data on financial accounts of natural and legal persons with partner countries. The tax authorities can use the information received to check whether taxpayers are properly declaring the income and assets they have earned or invested abroad.

Switzerland also committed itself to implement the AEOI five years ago. Last fall, it exchanged data for the first time with 36 states and territories. [1] There are political and economic ties with these mostly European partner states. They also have a legal framework similar to that in Switzerland.

Since then, Switzerland has continuously expanded its AEI network. In doing so, it takes into account international developments, but also the requirements that result from the implementation of the AIA standard. The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) plays a key role in this. This body, which has over 150 member states and territories, ensures that international standards with regard to transparency and the exchange of information for tax purposes are adhered to and implemented in a uniform manner.

The Global Forum examines, among other things, the extent to which the states meet the requirements of the AEOI standard. For example, it determines whether the partner states have the necessary legal bases and an appropriate AEI network. It also examines whether the data exchanged is treated confidentially and used exclusively for tax purposes. The Global Forum communicates the results of its audits to all states and territories that participate in the AEOI.

Control by the Federal Council

In addition to the Global Forum, Switzerland also checks whether the partner countries meet the AEI standards. In this context, the federal resolution on the review mechanism to ensure the standard-compliant implementation of the AEOI will be applied for the first time this autumn. Parliament approved the review mechanism in autumn 2017. It specifies the criteria based on which the 33 partner states and territories with which Switzerland will exchange data for the first time this autumn should be checked. In the case of another 4 partner countries that will provide Switzerland with data for the first time in autumn, the check is not required; these states have waived to receive data.

Most of the criteria that are specified in the review mechanism result from the AEI standard itself. The partner state must have all the legal bases that are required for the implementation of the AEOI. He must also ensure that the data received are treated confidentially and stored securely. In addition, the data may only be used for tax purposes. At the international level, there must be no reports that indicate that a partner country is not treating the data received as confidential or does not adequately protect it. And there must be no events that contradict the local public order. This would be the case, for example, if conditions were found that are incompatible with the relevant conventions and thus with Swiss law. Persons about whom data is exchanged within the framework of the AEOI must not run the risk of serious human rights violations in this context.

The AEOI standard does not directly prescribe a criterion that is important to Switzerland in connection with international competition: the partner state must have an appropriate network of AEOI partner states with which the AEOI is mutually implemented.

On behalf of the Federal Council, the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) prepared a report in spring that shows the extent to which the new partner countries are complying with the requirements of the standard. The information on the basis of which the FDF has assessed the partner countries comes from various sources: In addition to the latest evaluations of the Global Forum, the reports of the G-20 / OECD and discussions with partner countries, the FDF also consulted the assessments of Switzerland's diplomatic missions abroad. It also took into account information from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and news agencies, and also invited financial institutions to submit reports.

Parliament is consulted

The Federal Council published the report in May and submitted it to the responsible parliamentary commissions for consultation. Before the data exchange, which is to take place in September, he will decide whether the AEOI should be suspended with certain partner countries. This would be the case if partner countries demonstrably did not comply with the requirements of the standard.

The review mechanism also contains a provision on the future procedure: It provides that the Federal Council must continue to review periodically and based on risk whether the individual countries meet the criteria. The Federal Council should in turn submit the relevant reports to the competent parliamentary commissions for consultation before taking any necessary measures.

  1. See article by Joel Weibel (ESTV) in this issue. []