Marking a key milestone in the Indian government’s fight against black money allegedly stashed abroad, India will get this month the complete information on flats, apartments and condominiums owned by Indians in Switzerland as also on earnings made from such properties to help it look into tax liabilities associated with those assets.
The move assumes significance on the part of Switzerland as the European Alpine nation is trying hard to reposition itself as a key global financial centre while warding off the long-persisting perception about the Swiss banking system being an alleged safe haven for black money.
While it would be the third time that India will get details about bank accounts and other financial assets held by Indians in Switzerland, it will be the first time that the information being shared with India would include information about the real estate assets.
While the Swiss government has agreed to share details of real estate assets, the information about contributions to non-profit organisations and other such foundations, as also details on investments in digital currencies still remain out of bounds from the automatic exchange of information framework, officials said.
Experts and those engaged in the business of attracting investments to Switzerland said the move would help clear misconceptions about all fund inflows into Swiss assets being illicit and would go a long way in establishing Switzerland as a preferred investment destination, including for real estate properties.
Himanshu, Founder and CEO of Switzerland For You SA, the parent firm of IDDI Investments, which is engaged in the business of attracting investments from India and other countries to Switzerland including in startups and real estate, said transparency has its own virtues and the proposal of the Switzerland government to share information about property ownership of foreign clients with other countries including India is welcome.
“We find no valid reason for Swiss authorities to hide such information. After all, the ownership of property is not something which can be kept under wraps,” said the India-origin entrepreneur who goes by his first name only and is settled in Geneva for many years.
“Sharing of such information with other countries under AEOI will bring in more transparency and act as deterrence for those intending to buy Swiss properties from ill-gotten wealth. The move will go a long way in making Switzerland an attractive investment destination,” he added.
India had received the first set of details from Switzerland under AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) in September 2019. It was among 75 countries to get such information that year.
In September 2020, India received the second set of Swiss bank account details of its nationals and entities, along with 85 other recipient countries with whom Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration (FTA) exchanged information on financial accounts within the framework of global standards on AEOI last year.
From this year, Switzerland’s Federal Council, the country’s top governing body, has decided to implement a key recommendation of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, under which Swiss authorities will also share details about investments made by foreigners in the Swiss real estate sector.