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SWITZERLAND

UBS tax dodger data copied from PC screen

A tax-dodging spat involving the Swiss bank UBS and Germany took a fresh twist after a Swiss daily reported on Tuesday that German authorities were using simple photos taken of a computer screen.

UBS tax dodger data copied from PC screen
Photo: DPA

“The data was photographed from a (computer) screen and pieced together bit by bit,” lawyer Jorg Schauf, representing a UBS client, told the Tages Anzeiger.

Describing the quality of the information obtained by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia as “remarkable”, Schauf blamed the “work of an internal source” for the leak.

Many banks have worked to shore up internal security protocols since client’s private information began to find its way to German tax investigators in 2007, which this latest method circumvents.

“Everything is in (the photographs),” said Schauf, including a complete overview of clients’ assets, their wealth before and after the global financial crisis and the names of their advisers at the bank.

The data handed over contains information on assets worth more than Sfr3.5 billion (€2.9 billion), with the most recent information dating back to March 2010, the daily reported.

New procedures are being introduced at the bank, a UBS spokesman said.

A tax deal between the two countries aimed at ending such exchanges is proving elusive after Germany’s upper house — the Bundesrat — blocked ratification last month.

Under the terms of the double taxation agreement signed by ministers from both countries earlier this year, German citizens with assets parked in Switzerland’s notoriously secretive banks faced paying a tax rate of 26.4 percent on their holdings.

AFP/mry

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CROSS-BORDER WORKERS

Germany and France extend Covid tax breaks for cross-border workers

Germany and France have agreed to extend the relaxation of tax rules for cross-border workers until the end of the year.

Cross-border workers commute by car but they can for now continue to work at home
Cross-border workers usually have to commute but can for now continue to work at home.. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The agreements between France and the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy avoids double taxation issues for anyone travelling across the French border to or from those countries in order to work.

During the pandemic, tax rules were eased to allow French cross-border employees, like their counterparts in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, to work from home without having to change their tax status.

The deals, which were established at the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020, were due to end on September 30th – and would have plunged cross-border workers still working from home because of the health crisis into renewed uncertainty over their taxes.

The latest extension of these agreements means there’s no confusion over where a cross-border worker pays their taxes until December 31st – for example cross-border workers who work in Geneva but live in France, who normally pay their taxes and social security contributions in Switzerland. 

Under normal circumstances, anyone living in France who works in Switzerland can spend no more than 25 percent of their time working from home. If they exceed this time limit, they would have to pay these tax charges tin France rather than in Switzerland, which would be much higher.

The agreements between France and Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland “provide that days worked at home because of the recommendations and health instructions related to the Covid-19 pandemic may … be considered as days worked in the state where [workers] usually carry out their activity and therefore remain taxable,” according to the statement from the French Employment Ministry.

In the case of Luxembourg, days worked from home because of the health crisis are not counted in usual the 29 day limit.

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