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Schumacher: I'll leave Switzerland over taxes

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Photo: DPA
15:16 CEST+02:00
Formula 1 legend and tax exile Michael Schumacher says he is prepared to move out of Switzerland if tax breaks granted to foreigners are abolished.

On Friday, a left-wing alliance filed 106,000 signatures backing a popular initiative to halt “tax privileges for millionaires”.

The proposal, if accepted by voters, would eliminate the financial breaks received by foreigners such as Schumacher who do not have to pay taxes on income they earn outside of Switzerland.

The motor racing star, a resident of Gland in the canton of Vaud, told Der Sonntag newspaper he hoped such a measure would not be approved in Switzerland.

The seven-time world champion, who earlier this month announced he would retire at the end of this season, told the newspaper that he regarded himself as a “jet-setter” who did business all around the world, but not in Switzerland.

It was earlier reported, however, that he signed a sponsorship deal with Swiss fashion groups Navyboot and Jet Set worth more than $5 million a year.

Schumacher said he could imagine that many wealthy foreigners like him would leave the country if the tax deal ended.

“They will probably move, one after another, to no longer stay in Switzerland,” he said.

Schumacher said he does pay “lump sum” taxes, plus the wages of his Swiss employees.

If foreigners leave the country, ordinary taxpayers will have to make up the difference in revenues, he suggested.

Schumacher has been resident of Switzerland for 20 years. He was listed earlier this year as the second wealthiest sportsman in the world by The Sunday Times newspaper, which estimated his net worth at €626 million.

His official residence, built in 2008 and valued at 35 million francs, is a sprawling waterfront estate overlooking Lake Geneva.

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He is among 5,500 wealthy foreigners in Switzerland -- including other F1 stars such as Briton Lewis Hamilton (a Geneva resident) -- who benefit from low taxes because their income is earned abroad.

Several cantons, including Zurich and Basel, have already decided to end such tax breaks.

Malcolm Curtis

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