The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Council of States decides on tonnage tax for ships

On Thursday, the Council of States will discuss the introduction of tonnage tax for ships. The issue at stake is whether shipping companies in Switzerland will be taxed at a flat rate in future. The Economic Affairs Committee of the small chamber has requested that the bill not be approved.

With the introduction of tonnage tax, companies active in maritime shipping could choose to no longer pay profit tax on individual ships, but instead pay flat rates depending on their load capacity. The result would be significant tax relief.

Proponents argue that the aim is to create a level playing field. After all, 21 countries in the European Union alone already apply the tonnage tax.

The National Council adopted the bill in the 2022 winter session. At the time, the Council's left-wing party and the GLP strongly criticized the proposal. Tax subsidies for a specific sector were not appropriate. In addition, it was completely unclear what impact the tax relief would have on the federal budget. The Greens already threatened a referendum during the National Council debate.

The Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxation of the Council of States (WAK-S) also expressed reservations - and proposed against the bill by 7 votes to 4 with two abstentions.

The doubts prevailed, she wrote in a press release in February. In view of the federal government's strained financial situation, the proposal should be rejected. Furthermore, there are still doubts as to whether the tonnage tax is constitutional.

Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter also urged caution in February on SRF Radio's "Samstagsrundschau" program. In view of the ailing federal finances, tax relief is not appropriate at the moment.


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