Taxing inheritance at 50%: rich people threaten to leave Switzerland

Taxing inheritance at 50%: rich people threaten to leave Switzerland
Taxing inheritance at 50%: rich people threaten to leave Switzerland

The beginning of this summer seems like the right time to launch the debate on the initiative of the Young Socialists (JS) which aims to tax the inheritances of large fortunes – from 50 million francs – at 50% to finance climate policy. The boss of Stadler Rail, Peter Spuhler, launched hostilities in the Sunday press. He announced that he wanted to leave Switzerland and change his tax domicile even before the vote as a form of protest.

Peter Spuhler’s fortune is estimated at 3.75 billion. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people in Switzerland are said to be affected. Several other wealthy entrepreneurs are also considering going into exile quickly, according to a survey by the “Handelszeitung”. The idea is to put pressure on the bill in advance to give it no chance of passing. The bill plans to tax the targeted individuals retroactively. It would therefore be theoretically impossible to move to avoid paying tax once the initiative has been accepted.

And these threats seem to be bearing fruit, since the proposal, already rejected by the Federal Council, is being criticised even within the ranks of the Socialists. Solothurn State Councillor Franziska Roth clearly rejected the initiative in Wednesday’s “Blick”. The elected official fears that the business families established in her canton will also choose to leave.

Socialist politicians from Aargau and Bern also believe that a 50% tax is excessive. Gabriela Suter, for example, imagines a 10% tax from 10 million francs of wealth. Vaud National Councillor Roger Nordmann hopes that Parliament will draft a more moderate counter-proposal. The co-president of the Swiss Socialist Party, Cédric Wermuth, prefers not to decide on the issue for the time being. He believes that the JS is “intelligently” putting the links between the fight against global warming and socio-economic issues on the table for discussion.

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