Due to the fast spread of COVID-19, the Swiss government has introduced restrictions on events, closed most restaurants, tourism attractions and shops, and limited the number of people at gatherings. In order to support companies through this challenging times, the Swiss government has put in place measures to safeguard employment and wages and support the self-employed. Those measures include a package of financial assistance worth currently up to CHF 43bn, state guarantees for loans of up to CHF 20bn in total and financial support.
With regard to tax measures, the Swiss government announced additional assistance for companies on 20 March 2020. Businesses should have the possibility to extend payment periods for VAT, customs duties, special excise taxes and incentive taxes, without having to pay interest on arrears. For this reason, the interest rate will be reduced to 0.0 percent in the period from 21 March 2020 to 31 December 2020. No interest on arrears will be charged during this period.
Additionally, the Federal Finance Administration has instructed the administrative units of the Confederation to check accounts payable invoices quickly and settle them as soon as possible, without taking advantage of payment deadlines.
Current approach of the Swiss Federal Tax Authority
- In order to benefit from the payment deferrals, companies have to file a written request in accordance with Art. 90 VAT Act. It applies to all tax payers including foreign companies with a Swiss tax representative. All applications have to be submitted by email or post. No separate procedure is currently planned.
- The Swiss Federal Tax Administration is currently prioritizing the review of requests for early payments of VAT credits and is aiming for fast payment settlement.
- The late interest rate of 0.0 percent applies to all VAT payment obligations regardless of when the obligation arose. According to the ordinance the 0.0 percent late interest applies from 20 March to 31 December 2020.
- There are currently no separate extensions to the deadlines for VAT refund procedures planned, i.e., the deadline concerning VAT incurred in the calendar year 2019 is still 30 June 2020.
- It is planned that the current measures taken by the Swiss government will be published on the Swiss Federal Tax Administration’s website.
Due to the rapid changes currently happening, we expect more measures from the Swiss government in the coming days and weeks. Please consult our website for the latest tax developments with regard to the COVID-19 virus globally and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs for information on the measures taken by the Swiss government.