Double taxation agreements

Double taxation agreements (DTAs) prevent the double taxation of private individuals and legal entities with an international nexus in the area of taxes on income and capital. They are therefore an important element in promoting international economic activities. Switzerland currently has DTAs with over 100 countries and is seeking to extend its agreement network further. Switzerland also has eight agreements for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to inheritance and estate taxes.  

Country information
(in German, link to the Federal Tax Administration FTA)
 
Double taxation agreements: overview
 
Shipping and air transport: overview
 
Texts of agreements: Classified Compilation of Federal Legislation
(in German) 


Double taxation typically occurs when two states tax the same income or assets of a taxpayer. Most of the provisions of a DTA are dedicated to avoiding double taxation by giving the contracting states the right to tax the individual types of income and assets. However, they merely restrict the contracting states' taxation right. The basis for taxation lies in the contracting states' domestic law. 

The list of persons who can benefit from a DTA is long and varied and includes: 

  • Persons who simultaneously have a permanent residence in two states;

  • Export companies and groups with foreign subsidiaries that are protected from double taxation by a DTA; 

  • Employed persons with temporary work assignments abroad.

DTAs additionally have an important function for investments of all kinds abroad, as they avoid double taxation on profits and revenue from foreign investments. Moreover, a DTA generally contains certain bans on discrimination, a dispute resolution mechanism and a clause on the exchange of information upon request.

The DTA with Zambia and the protocols amending the DTAs with Ecuador, the United Kingdom and the United States have been in force since the beginning of 2019. In addition, protocols amending the DTAs with Bahrain, Iran, Ireland, Kuwait, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and Ukraine were signed.
    

The outcomes of the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project contain recommendations which require existing DTAs to be amended. Existing DTAs can be adapted to the treaty-related solutions developed in the BEPS project by means of the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures (BEPS Convention). 

The BEPS Convention came into force on 1 December 2019. With it, Switzerland intends to adapt the DTAs with Argentina, Austria, Chile, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Turkey to the treaty-related BEPS minimum standards. 

In order for the amendments introduced by the BEPS Convention to take effect, Switzerland must make an additional notification to the depositary of the BEPS Convention indicating that the necessary procedures have been completed. The first such case concerned Luxembourg. In a Memorandum of Understanding of 12 May 2020, the competent authorities of Switzerland and Luxembourg adopted the exact wording of the amendments provided in the BEPS Convention (see RO 2020 2641 and RO 2020 2715, in German). The procedure has thus been completed and Switzerland has made the aforementioned notification to the depositary of the BEPS Convention. The amendments are reflected in the double taxation agreement between Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Switzerland intends to adapt DTAs which will not be amended by the BEPS Convention to the BEPS minimum standards by means of bilateral amendments to the DTAs.

Further information

Media

26.08.2020
Federal Council adopts dispatches on new double taxation agreement with Bahrain and amendments to DTA with Kuwait

20.07.2020
Switzerland and Cyprus sign protocol of amendment to their double taxation agreement

16.07.2020
Switzerland and Malta sign protocol of amendment to their double taxation agreement

14.07.2020
Switzerland and Liechtenstein sign protocol of amendment to their double taxation agreement

29.11.2019
BEPS Convention enters into force

25.11.2019
Switzerland and Bahrain sign double taxation agreement

7.11.2019
Switzerland and Kuwait sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

28.10.2019
Amendments to double taxation agreement with United Kingdom in force

20.09.2019
Federal Council adopts dispatches on amendment of double taxation agreements with Ireland and Korea  

08.08.2019
Switzerland and New Zealand sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

30.07.2019
New double taxation agreement between Switzerland and Zambia enters into force

20.06.2019
Switzerland and Norway sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

19.06.2019
Switzerland and Sweden sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

13.06.2019
Switzerland and Ireland sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

12.06.2019
Switzerland and Netherlands sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

03.06.2019
Switzerland and Iran sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

17.05.2019
Switzerland and South Korea sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

24.01.2019
Switzerland and Ukraine sign protocol of amendment to double taxation agreement

Last modification 18.09.2020

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