Daniel Vasella (69) has to pay back taxes in Switzerland for 2013.
Christian KolbeEditor Economics
“My first reaction was that he wasn’t ashamed,” says Monika Roth (72). The lawyer and financial center specialist means the multi-millionaire and ex-Novartis boss Daniel Vasella (69). And that probably speaks to the heart of many Swiss people who have been outraged about the more than questionable tax behavior of the once powerful manager since Sunday.
At the weekend, the “SonntagsZeitung” revealed that Vasella wanted to optimize his taxes in Switzerland in 2013 – the year he left Novartis – and therefore moved his residence from Risch ZG to the tax haven of Monaco without further ado. However, the Zug tax authorities did not believe that and, according to a judgment that is also available to Blick, meticulously proved to the ex-top manager that his information about his place of residence could not be correct.
Tax authorities are looking closely
In the now public judgment of the Zug administrative court, it can be read that the tax authorities compared the water and electricity consumption in Risch and in the 5-room apartment rented by Vasella in Monaco. The tax investigators checked calendar entries and compared them with credit card payments. And they also wanted to control the location data of Vasella and his wife. However, Vasella did not reveal his mobile phone and his wife said she did not use one in Monaco. What the court classified as “difficult to imagine”.
It is not unusual for the tax authorities to look so closely. “The practice of the tax authorities taking a close look at personal living conditions occurs again and again in higher income brackets,” says Roth, who also served as a tax judge in the canton of Baselland from 1993 to 2011.
Like so many others, Roth completely lacks understanding for the frantic attempt to optimize taxes: “In my opinion, Vasella is also making a fool of himself. You can try it, but if the tax authorities take a very close look and then, given the facts and evidence, it’s actually obvious that nothing can be done, then you should accept the decision.” And do not question this decision before the administrative court, as Vasella did.
It is difficult for many to accept that Vasella’s “tax tricks” are always written about. But one thing is clear: the ex-Novartis boss is not guilty of either tax evasion or tax fraud. Therefore, he only has to bear the costs of the proceedings as a recurring agent – and of course pay the taxes owed.
Because – as the law provides – anyone who actually evades taxes must provide false information about their income and assets. Tax evasion is classified as a violation and punishable with a fine. In particularly serious cases, this can be up to three times the evaded tax.
For a conviction for tax fraud, the hurdles are even higher. This requires a forgery of documents, such as the manipulation of wage statements, balance sheets or business books. Tax fraudsters face a prison sentence of up to three years.