Rising stock markets have seen a return of employee stock and stock option plans as a common part of compensation and incentive packages for executives and other highly compensated employees. A draft bill including revised rules on the taxation of benefits granted under employee incentive plans is pending in the second chamber of the Federal Parliament.
The Swiss-EU Savings Agreement provides for measures equivalent to those laid down in the EU Directive on the Taxation of Interest Payments and the EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive. The relief from withholding tax on dividends under the agreement will strengthen Switzerland's position as a location for holding companies and promote investment activity in the jurisdiction.
In 2005 the Federal Tax Administration issued a circular letter on lump-sum deductions with respect to foreign-to-foreign business transactions. Swiss resident corporations and foreign resident corporations with a Swiss permanent establishment are no longer allowed to apply lump-sum deductions on foreign-to-foreign business transactions, but must keep records of their expenses.
Through the proposed law known as the Corporate Tax Reform II, the Federal Council aims to make Switzerland more attractive to entrepreneurs and investors. However, provisions relating to the recharacterization, under certain circumstances, of tax-free capital gains as taxable distributions are controversial and are likely to be debated by the first chamber of the Federal Parliament in spring 2006.