Swiss Constitutional Initiative for Microtax
On 25 February 2020, the official text of the initiative “Microtax on Cashless Monetary
Transactions” was published in the Swiss Federal Register. The organizers must now
collect at least 100’000 signatures in order for the initiative to be placed on the
Much of the Swiss population is unhappy with the tax system as it stands today. In
many ways the system is inequitable. Politicians constantly tinker with changes,
without having a broad view or strategy. The result is a confusing patchwork: an
archaic (and anarchic) tax system.
Neither does the existing Swiss system for taxation address the challenges posed by
the global economy in which we find ourselves immersed. The world of Apple,
Amazon, Facebook, and Google intervenes deeply in our everyday public and
private lives without our permission.
The world of Swiss banking is also subject to these new pressures. Banks seek new
business opportunities but have difficulties adapting to new paradigms and the
growing demands of transparency. The latest algorithms allow casino finance.
Machines trade shares in nanoseconds. The beneficiaries of these algorithms make
riskless profits owing to sheer manipulation.
Away from the trading floor, banks enter into arcane bespoke “derivatives”
contracts executed well outside of the spotlight. These private agreements between
banks and an endless parade of alphabet-soup counterparties run to the trillions in
value. Some are indeed executed for insurance purposes, but many others for pure
speculation. And it is the public who pays when this house of cards comes tumbling
down, as we saw in the last global financial crisis.
How does the Microtax change this world?
First, the Microtax achieves an improved tax system.
Second, the Microtax helps prevent further negative effects of
The Microtax initiative is broader than legal, finance, or taxation concerns, although
it addresses all three. It is the right answer to digitalization. The Microtax brings
transparency into the system of transactions and payments. It strengthens
Switzerland as a sovereign nation.
The rollout of the Microtax initiative is designed for balance from both content and
timing perspectives. The federal parliament and the federal administration have
ample time to prepare for the improved tax system and the new paradigm of digital