Spain could raise €200mn from the wealthy’s Swiss accounts

Digital news website El Confidencial on Tuesday published an article about the effect the so-called Rubik Plan would have on the Spanish budget. This is a bilateral agreement to lift banking secrecy in Switzerland, which would allow hidden account holders in the country to pay taxes anonymously in Spain. The conclusion of experts is clear: the amount collected thanks to this measure would barely exceed €200 million, a somewhat tiny sum compared to the Spanish budget gap.

“Switzerland has proposed as an alternative to lifting banking secrecy: a measure called Rubik Plan that would anonymously confiscate from hidden account holders a percentage of their estate. This would be then divided into 75% for the State of origin of the account holder and 25% for the Helvetic Confederation.

“This idea has caused a division between countries: some have chosen to accept this proposal as a realistic alternative that can provide fiscal revenue even if only partially from these hidden accounts; this is the case of Germany, UK and the rescued Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Others such as France and the USA, though, maintain the traditional hard line toward Switzerland and require an exchange of information.

Until now, Spain was part of the latter group, but it seems that the new government of Mariano Rajoy could take the realistic approach and seems to have held talks with Switzerland in this regard.

“The experts consulted expressed many doubts: ‘It’s a very long and complex process, one cannot assume that there will be an agreement. Germany took months to sign its own,’ says one of these specialists. Another adds that ‘if we do not even know who is going to be the Economy minister, how can it be that there is a tax team negotiating with Switzerland?”

In any case, it would be far from the solution to the increasing Spanish deficit. By comparison, Germany will only raise CHF 2 billion (€1.6 billion) and CHF 500 million (€407 million) the UK.

“So, taking into consideration that it is estimated that Switzerland has about €22 billion in hidden accounts of the Spanish wealthy, the revenue for the Spanish tax authorities will not go much beyond the mentioned €200 million.”

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