Switzerland, along with some 140 other countries, has committed itself to ensuring that large international corporate groups pay at least 15% in taxes. If a group of companies pays less tax in one country, in future it will be possible for the group to be taxed by other countries until the 15% is reached. In Switzerland, some corporate groups currently pay lower taxes.
The Federal Council and Parliament want to be able to introduce minimum taxation for large international groups of companies. For all other companies, nothing changes. The new law will be implemented by imposing a supplementary tax. If Switzerland does not levy a supplementary tax, other states can collect the difference until the 15% is reached. The financial impact of the new law is difficult to estimate. In the first year, revenues from the supplementary tax are estimated at between CHF 1 and 2.5 billion. 75% of the revenue will go to the cantons, 25% to the Confederation. Thanks to the system of financial equalisation, all the cantons will benefit. Many international companies operate in Switzerland. They provide a large number of jobs and contribute significantly to tax revenues. Higher taxes reduce the attractiveness of a location. The revenues from the supplementary tax should therefore also be used to promote Switzerland as a business location in order to secure jobs and tax revenues. Implementation requires an amendment to the Federal Constitution. That is why a referendum is needed.
Switzerland imports around three quarters of its energy. All the mineral oil and natural gas consumed in Switzerland comes from abroad. These fossil fuels will not be available indefinitely and they place a heavy burden on the climate. In order to reduce environmental pollution and dependence on other countries, the Federal Council and Parliament want to reduce the consumption of oil and gas. At the same time, the aim is to produce more energy in Switzerland.
In terms of the bill, Switzerland will gradually reduce its consumption of mineral oil and natural gas. The goal is for Switzerland to become climate neutral by 2050. The bill introduces measures to reduce energy consumption. Those who replace their oil, gas or electric heating will receive financial assistance. In addition, companies that invest in climate-friendly technologies will be supported. The bill is an indirect counter-proposal to the Glacier Initiative. Unlike that initiative, it does not aim to ban fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel, heating oil and gas. A referendum has been called against the bill.
The coronavirus remains unpredictable. It is hard to say with any certainty how it will develop. The possibility that dangerous variants of the virus will emerge again cannot be ruled out. Parliament has therefore extended the period of application for the legal provisions on certain measures in the COVID-19 Act until mid-2024. This enables the authorities to act quickly in an emergency to protect particularly vulnerable people and the healthcare system. A referendum has been called against this extension.
By extending the application of the provisions, medicines for severe COVID-19-related diseases can continue to be imported and used, even if they are not yet authorised in Switzerland. The Confederation may continue to issue a COVID certificate, especially if this becomes necessary again in order to travel abroad. It can also require employers to protect particularly vulnerable people, for example by allowing them to work from home. In the event of any border closures, the federal government must ensure that cross-border commuters can continue to enter the country. The currently deactivated SwissCovid app can be reactivated if required. If the bill were to be rejected, these provisions would cease to apply in mid-December 2023.
Information and advice on voting correctly, frequent mistakes and ways of correcting them is on the page: How to complete a ballot paper correctly