In 2020, 946 people were taxed on the basis of expenses in Valais. No other canton had so many, according to data collected by the RTS investigation center.
This is the first time for him. In 2020, Valais became the canton with the largest number of flat tax recipients. Long second in the “ranking” behind neighboring Vaud, it is now on the top step of the podium (946) ahead of the canton of Ticino (896), the canton of Vaud (892) and the canton of Geneva (523). .
These data were transmitted by the cantonal tax authorities to the RTS investigation center. Our research focused on these four cantons that make up the lion’s share of tax packages. They house about 75% of the people taxed on the basis of spending.
The RTS was also interested in the average taxes paid by the “flat rate tax” domiciled in these four cantons. It should be remembered that, according to the law, these people are not required to have a Swiss passport or to be gainfully employed in the country. They are not then taxed on income but on the total amount of costs related to their lifestyle, we therefore speak of taxation based on expenditure.
In Valais, the happy tax
The data published in the last ten years by the Conference of Cantonal Finance Directors, but also those transmitted to us by the cantonal tax authorities, show that the beneficiaries of the tax package pay more taxes on average in Geneva than in the cantons of Vaud and Ticino. The canton of Valais systematically records the lowest average.
In 2020, for example, a flat-rate tax paid an average of 266,000 francs in tax in Geneva, 176,000 francs in Ticino and 118,000 francs in Valais. The Vaud figures have not yet been obtained.
Champion of the tax package and canton that taxes minus very wealthy foreigners, does the canton of Valais practice tax dumping? On Tuesday 1 November, in any case, questioned before 7.30 pm, the former director of the Federal Finance Control Michel Huissoud evoked “a general problem of fiscal underbidding”.
He was then questioned on the sidelines of the dispute between the cantons of Geneva and Valais over the domicile of French billionaire Patrick Drahi, for the benefit of a tax package in Valais. Without commenting on this specific case or indicting this or that canton, Michel Huissoud confided that, in order to attract very wealthy taxpayers, the cantons “could close their eyes to a number of facts”.
>> Read Patrick Drahi’s tax package:
Contacted to give his opinion, the president of the Valais State Council, Roberto Schmidt, also head of the finance department, replied that these questions should be put to Beda Albrecht, head of the cantonal tax service.
The head of the Valais tax authorities defends himself
The latter agreed to answer the questions of the RTS, but in writing. “The Canton of Valais does not practice any tax dumping to attract wealthy foreigners,” he replies. He specifies that “the quality of life” plays a role in the choice of some taxpayers, but also that “some cantonal legal provisions” can weigh on the balance. Beda Albrecht refers to the maximum tax rate which is lower in Valais (36%) than in Geneva (45%).
The head of the Valais tax office also certifies that all the paperwork of the fixed price applicants has been browsed and that nothing is done lightly. “Any taxpayer wishing to benefit from the tax on expenses must submit a questionnaire with the details of his universal expenditure. His expenditure is then evaluated and compared with the other criteria deriving from the provisions of the law. A tax agreement is then established,” he explains. Bede Albrecht.
As for the average tax, which is much lower than in the other cantons, according to the official, “several factors” would explain the figures. First, it highlights the profile of people benefiting from spending-based taxation in Valais. “Many of them are of retirement age and therefore have lower spending, for example, than families with children in education,” he says.
Beda Albrecht also notes that rents, which serve as a tax base, are lower in Valais “than in Geneva, Lausanne or Lugano” and that the tax base will therefore be “mathematically lower” in Valais than in the other cantons.
He underlines one last point: the minimum amount applicable in terms of taxation based on expenditure is lower in Valais than in the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Ticino, and this can therefore lower the average. In Valais the minimum amount on which the tax is calculated is therefore 250,000 francs compared to 445,000 francs in Geneva.
For Beda Albrecht it cannot therefore be said that the Canton of Valais is generous, fiscally speaking, with very wealthy foreigners. Proof of this is that in nine years the number of flat tax rates established in Valais has decreased by almost 30%, from 1,214 people in 2013 to 874 in 2021. “Almost two thirds of these taxpayers have opted for ‘ordinary taxation ,’ he says.
An elected official asks for more scrutiny
Despite this decline, however, Valais had more package beneficiaries last year than the cantons of Vaud (837) and Geneva (527). Ticino data are not yet known.
The explanations of the head of the Valais tax authorities by no means convince the Valais National Socialist councilor Emmanuel Amoos. Questioned at 7.30 pm, he states that “the canton of Valais is very pleased with the granting of these tax packages” and this, “while the population is suffering from the crisis of purchasing power”.
The elected socialist says he is “shocked”. He believes that “the cantons are waging a real war, a real competition to attract the beneficiaries of the tax packages to their soil”. He then announced for the first time to the RTS that he would “request the establishment of greater control” from the Federal Council.
Fabiano Citroni – Investigation Unit