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Swiss, Italian ministers sign deal to fight tax evasion

Staff writer |
Switzerland signed an agreement with Italy to share tax information to help Rome combat tax evasion that costs the government €90 billion ($100 billion) a year.

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The deal with Italy, announced last month, will offer a partial tax amnesty to Italians who have hidden assets in Swiss banks, via a 'voluntary disclosure procedure' which reduces fines and drops most criminal charges. The amnesty runs until September 30.

The Bank of Italy estimates that around 70 percent of the cash that Italians have hidden abroad is in Switzerland and Italian government sources said last month the deal could yield up to €6.5 billion in additional tax revenues.

"We have estimated additional revenues of just one euro in the budget law and the only thing I can say is that we will cash in more than that," Italy's Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said during a news conference to present the agreement.

The deal is a foretaste for Switzerland of a wider programme of financial disclosure under discussion with European authorities. Switzerland has committed to sign a multilateral agreement on automatic tax information sharing by 2018.

"I believe that Swiss banks will encourage their clients to come clean (through the voluntary disclosure)," Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told the news conference.

In addition to the tax agreement, the two countries signed a framework agreement to resolve other financial issues they have been discussing since 2012.

These include the possibility for Swiss bank branches to sell financial assets directly in Italy, the taxation of cross-border workers, and rules to be applied to Campione d'Italia, an Italian town on the Swiss side of Lake Lugano.

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