The EU Directive on Administrative Cooperation need not be incorporated into Swiss law, but its impact on groups based in Switzerland may be significant. Considering the directive's broad scope, it is crucial that Swiss-based groups identify qualifying intercompany transactions at an early stage and ensure that they comply with the applicable subsidiary reporting obligations in cases with no involvement of EU intermediaries.
In economic life, debt waivers involving associated companies take on central significance in the context of a restructuring. It can be assumed that restructuring will greatly increase in the near future due to the financial difficulties of many companies resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. Although the tax treatment of a debt waiver granted by an independent third party is essentially well defined (ie, it is recognised in income), many questions will arise if debt is waived by a related party – namely, a shareholder.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of tax return deadlines have been extended for legal entities; however, numerous questions concerning corporate tax requirements for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and contentious legal proceedings in tax matters remain. This article examines some of the most salient questions in this regard.
Foreign companies can now take advantage of a tax-neutral step-up of built-in gains (including self-created goodwill) to fair market value for Swiss direct tax purposes when relocating their legal seat, effective place of management or assets, business units and functions to Switzerland from overseas. The disclosed built-in gains may be depreciated tax-effectively over a specified time period, allowing the Swiss company or branch to reduce its tax burden significantly during the respective timeframe.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development recently released a statement update on a new international framework to allocate part of the profits of multinational enterprises with a substantial digital business footprint in countries in which they have a large user base, but no physical presence. Switzerland has stated that it will maintain its support for the development of a multilateral solution for taxing the digital economy to avoid unilateral actions that jeopardise growth and innovation.
The European Parliament recently decided to postpone the transition timeline to implement the EU Medical Device Regulation, which was set to expire on 26 May 2020, until 26 May 2021. Although there has been no official statement from the European Union, the competent Swiss authorities consider it as granted that the status quo regarding medical devices continues to apply to Switzerland. This article discusses the presumed impact of the postponement on the Swiss medtech industry.
The Federal Department of Home Affairs recently decided that two new autologous cell therapies (CAR-T therapies) for the treatment of blood and lymph gland cancer will in future be covered by compulsory healthcare insurance. Further, preventive investigations of colorectal cancer will be exempted from the franchise in the Cantons of Fribourg and Basel-Stadt. In addition to these changes, a number of other adaptations have been made to the Healthcare Benefits Ordinance and its annexes.
The Lausanne University Centre for General Medicine and Public Health, in close cooperation with the Swiss Biobanking Platform, recently commenced the pilot phase of the so-called 'Swiss health study', which aims to determine which chemicals accumulate in the human body. The pilot phase is supported by the Federal Office of Public Health.
The popular nursing care initiative 'For Strong Nursing Care' is calling for more nursing staff and quality safeguarding in nursing care. The Swiss parliamentary Commission for Social Security and Health recently presented an indirect counterproposal to this popular initiative. The counterproposal adopts a number of the initiative's important demands and aims to counter the nursing staff shortage and increase nursing staff skills with an educational campaign.
The Federal Administrative Court recently annulled a Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) order that had limited the price increase of a medicinal product on the list of specialities to two years. The FOPH had permitted a temporary (ie, two-year) price increase of 20%; however, the Federal Administrative Court upheld the manufacturer's argument that such time limits may be imposed only for comprehensible and appropriate reasons, which the FOPH could not convincingly provide.
Parliament recently approved new regulations for blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT). The goal of this new legal framework is to further establish and increase Switzerland's reputation as a leading, innovative and sustainable location for fintech and DLT companies. Because Switzerland already has a world-class and pioneering infrastructure for financial markets, these qualities should allow it to remain at the forefront of the DLT and fintech scene.
Parliament recently approved the final draft of the revised Data Protection Act, which is expected to enter into force in 2022. The revision aims to modernise Switzerland's data protection landscape in line with the more sophisticated EU legislation, particularly the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which entered into force in 2018.
The Federal Administrative Court (FAC) recently issued a ruling concerning the status of instant messaging app Threema from a telecoms surveillance legislation perspective. The consequences of the FAC's ruling, if upheld by the Federal Supreme Court, would exonerate many over-the-top service providers (typically instant messaging and voice call providers) from certain obligations under telecoms legislation. However, businesses active in the telecoms area should nonetheless remain cautious.
The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) recently removed the United States from its list of countries deemed to provide an "adequate level of data protection". Essentially, the FDPIC is of the opinion that legal remedies for data subjects in Switzerland under the Swiss-US Privacy Shield are insufficient. Going forward, businesses must reassess their cross-border data transfers in light of the FDPIC's statement.
The Federal Supreme Court recently issued a ruling addressing the liability of a securities trading company when hackers break into and use a client's email account to send transfer orders. This case is a stark reminder of the importance for anyone using online accounts and online (email) communications to properly secure their IT systems against hackers and other malevolent third parties. In case of any suspicious activity, it is necessary to immediately assess the situation and react accordingly.