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The automatic exchange of information

The automatic exchange of information

The Swiss banks will be implementing the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) with countries abroad from 2017 onwards. Read more about it here.

What is AEOI?

AEOI is an international standard that governs how tax authorities in the participating countries exchange data relating to the bank and safekeeping accounts of taxpayers. The goal is to make tax evasion impossible. The member countries of the G20, the OECD and other important financial centres, which total over 100 jurisdictions, have committed to implementing AEOI. The US, which is implementing its own standard (FATCA), is an exception.

This is how AEOI works

With AEOI, information regarding bank and safekeeping accounts is reported by the banks to the domestic tax authorities. These then exchange the information with the tax authorities in their AEOI partner countries. Responsibility for levying the taxes thus lies fully with the tax authorities in the AEOI partner countries. The following informational video provides a detailed explanation of how the process works.

 

The SBA's efforts in the interests of a practicable AEOI

Switzerland is particularly affected by AEOI because more than a quarter of global assets invested cross-border is managed here. It is therefore important for Switzerland that the AEOI Standard is as practicable and fair as possible. This is why the Swiss government and the banks have advocated strongly in the OECD that the AEOI Standard should comply with the following principles:

  • A single global standard,
  • Observance of the principle of speciality: the information may only be used for the purposes intended in the agreement,
  • Sufficient legal and technical protection of data,
  • Reciprocity: all countries gather and exchange the same information,
  • The same rules apply for all participants regarding the identification of controlling persons, also for trusts and domiciliary companies.

These points are to a large extent reflected in the standard that is now in force. Thanks to our constructive and well-founded suggestions, and thanks to the support of the Swiss authorities, the OECD made allowances in the standard for the Swiss financial industry’s key concerns (particularly in the commentary). Switzerland’s constructive contribution to the development of the standard was expressly acknowledged by the OECD.

We were also closely involved in the process for transposing the standard into Swiss law (please see our statements in the “Our positions” box). Further to this, we worked intensively with the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) on the development of the Swiss AEOI guidelines.

The basis of AEOI

AEOI is a package consisting of four elements contained in the OECD's “Standard for the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information” (see below).

Intergovernmental agreement or international treaty

The Common Reporting Standard

Commentary on interpretation

Technical implementation guidelines

The complete standard can be found below or here.

 

In order for the AEOI standard to become applicable in Switzerland, it must be transcribed into national law and other regulations. These are:

  • The AEOI Act (AEOIA) will come into force on 1 January 2017.
  • The AEOI Ordinance (AEOIO), which also came into force on 1.1.2017.
  • The FTA's AEOI guidelines, which provide around 190 pages of detailed information on the implementation of AEOI by financial institutions.
  • The FTA’s technical guidelines, which will contain guidelines on IT standards (in German).
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