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Swiss inheritance tax referendum - update

This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted.

The proposal to introduce Swiss federal inheritance and gift tax was put to a referendum on 14 June 2015. The proposal was defeated; 71% of the voters and all 26 cantons rejected it.

Accordingly, Switzerland remains a country where gift and inheritance tax between spouses and close family members remains either tax free or at low rates. Lawyers are expecting an increase in consultations for estate planning, after most people held fire waiting for the referendum to take place

After this recent period of uncertainty, Switzerland will continue to attract wealthy individuals. Planning is still essential and specialist advice remains a necessity.

The outcome of the referendum gives a sense of continuity and reassurance – at least in tax matters. Any personal issues around deciding who should inherit and how much still need to be dealt with. The tax is not the only issue that should be taken into account. Recent English statistics suggest that there has been a 700% increase (from 2007 to 2012) in wills being contested. It is worth taking expert advice not only on likely inheritance tax, but also on any other issues which may arise.

June 2015

Nicole Gallop Mildon, Solicitor and diplômée notaire