Meetings and events of the Parliamentary Group

Meeting of 10 March 2021

Startup Visa

The core team of the PG Startups and Entrepreneurship once again dealt in depth with the topic of startup visas. This provided the opportunity to discuss the requirements of the startup ecosystem directly with State Secretary Mario Gattiker, Head of the State Secretariat for Migration SEM. Based on a survey among SWESA members, the following areas were focused on in particular:

 

  • Standardization and simplification of the approval processes for the recruitment of employees from third countries.

  • Shorter processing times / reduced time required to submit applications

  • Expansion of the digital offering

  • Consideration of employee participation plans as a salary component

 

In a next step, we are now analyzing whether initial improvements can be achieved by adapting existing directives. Furthermore, SECO is already planning an expansion of the digital offering on easygov.ch. In addition, the PG will decide on the appropriate time to submit a motion calling for the introduction of startup visas for founders. 

Meeting of 8 December 2020

Startup Visa

Various surveys show that access to talent is of central importance for Swiss startups. Tight quotas, cantonal differences and a large administrative burden are some of the hurdles that have to be overcome when a company wants to recruit skilled workers from third countries.

 

At the fourth meeting of the PG Startups and Entrepreneurship, the topic of startup visas was discussed. While many industrialized and emerging countries have already introduced special work permits for startups, Switzerland does not have a separate permit category for founders of startups. Political initiatives to change this situation have been rejected so far. 

 

Particularly unsatisfactory is the fact that many highly motivated graduates of Swiss universities can only work in Switzerland as third-country nationals with difficulty. Thus, Switzerland invests in their education, but at the same time misses out on many entrepreneurial talents. The parliamentary group agrees that Switzerland must remain as attractive as possible for foreign founders in order to prevent a future competitive disadvantage.

 

In the next few weeks, we will discuss which elements a political initiative must contain in order to take a step forward in this matter. As soon as this has been drafted, we will inform you here again.

For additional information on the topic of startup visas and their importance for Switzerland as a business location, we recommend the new Dossier Politik from economiesuisse.

Meeting of 15 September 2020

Tax framework for investments

in Swiss startups

The third meeting of the PG on Startups and Entrepreneurship focused on the tax framework for investments in Swiss startups. Esther Cahn, CEO and co-founder of Signifikant Solutions, reported on the tax risks associated with investments by investors organized in syndicates. For example, there is a risk that the income from an exit will be taxed as income.

Pascal Mathis, Founding Partner of Wingman Ventures, extended the topic with additional suggestions for improvement from the perspective of a venture capital fund. Based on the following discussion, Andri Silberschmidt submitted an interpellation (20.4048). The Federal Council is thus asked for a statement on the following questions (abbreviated):

 

  1. Does the Federal Council see a need for action to increase competitiveness in the area of taxation of investments in startups?
     

  2. Is the Federal Council aware of the fiscal uncertainty surrounding investments by business angels and special investment syndicates? Is there a need for action?
     

  3. Does the Federal Council see a need for action in view of the fact that more and more Swiss business angels are organizing themselves in foreign constructs?
     

  4. Is the Federal Council prepared to explain how Circular Letter No. 36 of the FTA on professional securities trading can be adapted to eliminate the legal uncertainty surrounding investments in startups?
     

  5. Postulate 17.4292 instructs the Federal Council to prepare a report on the possibilities and consequences of a reduction of capital and wealth taxes for companies. By when will the report be available?
     

  6. What is the position of the Federal Council to examine tax incentives for private investments in startups on the one hand and for venture capitalists and/or their managers (fund managers, keyword "taxation of carried interest") on a federal level?
     

  7. How does the Federal Council intend to proceed so that Switzerland is one of the most attractive countries in the international competition among business locations with regard to promising startups and does not fall behind?

Meeting of 9 June 2020

Taxation of employee shareholdings

The taxation of employee shareholdings was the topic of the second meeting of the PG Startups and Entrepreneurship. During the discussion, Adrian Hug, Director of the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) explained the administration's point of view, while Marc Maurer, COO of On, highlighted the challenges for startups in dealing with employee share ownership schemes. In order to improve the current practice for both startups and their employees, there is primarily potential for optimisation in the following areas:

  • Taxation of shares on the basis of financing rounds

    • Forces to expensive tax rulings, depending on the canton additional taxation on the sale of the shares

    • Cantonal inequalities in practical handling promote legal uncertainty 

  • Employees may be subject to tax disadvantages compared to investors and may be forced to sell shares to pay the taxes due

 

Based on the Parliamentary Initiative 17.456 and Motion 17.3261, a consultation with representatives of the startup ecosystem was held in 2019. As a result of this consultation, the FTA has proposed adjustments at Circular Letter No. 37.

 

It turned out that the planned circular letter takes up the most important points. In principle, the adjustments are very welcome (in particular the adoption of the Zurich model with regard to the temporary additional taxation) as well as the clarifications regarding the tax qualification of employee shares.

 

SWESA will present the position of the startups at the next hearing of the FTA by Karim Maizar and propose some clarifications and adjustments. We will keep our members up to date on further developments with the SWESA newsletter.