The introduction of a Swiss Trust law is on the current political agenda. Fabio Regazzi (CVP) submitted a parliamentary initiative for “Aufnahme des Rechtsinstituts des Trusts in die schweizerische Gesetzgebung”, which then triggered the postulate of Ticino FDP national council Giovanni Merlini, which demanded “Prüfung einer allfälligen gesetzlichen Regelung von Trusts”. Ultimately this led to the motion “Einführung des Trusts in die schweizerische Rechtsordnung», which tasked the Swiss Federal Council to create the legal basis for a Swiss trust. A group of experts has been working on the legal basis requested by the Swiss Federal Council. Work on this project is confidential.
Another expert group has been discussing the tax framework ensuing from the introduction of a Swiss trust law; this also has to be kept confidential.
How is the taxation of trusts in Switzerland regulated at present?
Currently a trust is taxed on the basis of Swiss tax law. On 22 August 2007 the Federal Tax Authorities issued circular letter no. 30, which lists clear guidelines and criteria, establishing the principle of transparency. The circular letter does not distinguish between foreign and domestic trust law. In taxation, asset values and earnings of a trust, e.g. capital, capital gains and ongoing revenue, are solely assigned either to the beneficiaries or to the settlor. Asset values and earnings are not subject to taxes with the trust or the trustee. Due to the principle of transparency the same cantonal tax rules apply for assets contributed to a trust as those that apply in cases of inheritance or donations for natural persons without a trust structure.
Source: Circular letter no. 30 of 22 August 2007 – https://www.estv.admin.ch/estv/de/home/direkte-bundessteuer/direkte-bundessteuer/fachinformationen/kreisschreiben.html
Commentary: Due to the legal basis mentioned above there are no objections regarding taxation that would speak against the introduction of a Swiss trust law. The current practice applied to the taxation of foreign trusts according to circular letter no. 30 can also be applied de lege data to Swiss trusts and the practice can continue seamlessly. There is no need for any changes or supplements to circular letter no. 30, nor does one need a new legal provision.