Welcome In The Swiss Hillsides For Expats

Switzerland will continue to offer generous tax breaks to wealthy expats after a national vote rejected proposals to axe the laws.

The referendum showed 61% of voters were against the plan to change tax laws for expats.

The Swiss population of about 8 million already comprises around 25% of foreigners.

Campaigners claimed the number was too high and that immigrants were swelling the number by 1.4% a year.

They argued that the country could sustain immigration at such a rate and that the country needed an immigration cap allowing 16,000 new expats in a year so the population did not breach 8.5 million by 2050.

Wealthy expats

However, voters rejected the argument and tellers counted 73% were opposed to capping the number of immigrants.

Switzerland has a higher proportion of expat millionaires and billionaires than most countries.

Official figures show more than 5,700 wealthy expats contribute more than 1 billion Swiss francs to the nation’s economy as taxes each year.

Although the Swiss seemingly openly welcome expats, the latest vote follows another that confirmed imposing quotas on expats moving to the country from the European Union.

The government has had to delay implementing the cap after the European Union threatened to impose tough economic sanctions.

The quota system breaches treaties between Switzerland and the EU, where freedom of movement between states is a basic right for all citizens.

Unresolved problem

This is where UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to restrict the numbers of EU immigrants settling in Britain come unstuck.

Official statistics revealed that Switzerland was the destination of the highest number of expats relative to the population in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

OECD members include most of the world’s most developed economies and the whole of the European Union.

The figures showed 90% of incoming expats to Switzerland came from Europe.

“This is a still unresolved issue for Switzerland,” said a government spokesman. “It’s clear that most people want to welcome expats who contribute to the economy, but at the same time although they do not want to cap numbers, they want to see fewer expats settling here.

“Living standards are high, but the number of people living in the country is beginning to stress our resources.”

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