Tag Archives: Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein Lawmakers give green light to alternative investment fund managers’ law

Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein   Picture by Michael Gredenberg

The Liechtenstein parliament has unanimously given the green light to the government’s alternative investment fund managers’ law (AIFMD). According to the Liechtenstein government, parliament’s approval of the law establishes a second legal basis for the Principality’s fund industry, in addition to the law on Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS).

The Liechtenstein government highlights the fact that political stability, an attractive tax law, and favorable geographic location in the Swiss franc zone, coupled with membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) enable the Principality to offer unique location advantages. This combination together with other favorable conditions make Liechtenstein an interesting location for managers of alternative investment in the international fund market, the government adds.

The EEA-compliant framework of the law and the market-orientated shaping of national legislation will serve to promote the Liechtenstein fund center as an attractive and competitive location for the international fund industry, the government insists, emphasizing that improved investor protection and strong, internationally networked supervision will also promote the stability of the Liechtenstein fund center as well as confidence in the functioning of the financial market as a whole.

Liechtenstein’s “flexible” law provides for the introduction of the European Union (EU) passport, allowing EU-wide marketing to professional investors, and places greater personal and organisational requirements on managers, their business partners, and the financial market authority (FMA).

Welcoming parliament’s decision, Liechtenstein’s Prime Minister Klaus Tschütscher emphasized the fact that there is a broad consensus among key stakeholders on the common AIFM strategy. Noting that the Principality endeavors to be “interesting for both existing and new customers,” who particularly value stability in times of uncertainty, Tschütscher explained that the AIFMD will further strengthen the Liechtenstein fund center.

Tschütscher predicted that many fund or wealth managers from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and other countries will be interested in Liechtenstein as a location, and that larger wealth managers will also elect to settle in the Principality.

Director of Liechtenstein’s Office of International Financial Affairs Katje Gey underscored that the AIFMD creates a competitive legal basis in accordance with European law, for Liechtenstein as a future-orientated AIFM location. Liechtenstein is the first country in Europe to transpose the lessons from the financial crisis into national law, to prevent as far as possible investor losses and systemic risks arising from inadequate supervision, while at the same time increasing the competitiveness of the fund center, Gey said.

Gey maintained that the further development of the Liechtenstein fund center is one of the central and most promising areas. Gey underscored the attractiveness of the location for managers of alternative investments and stressed the importance of access to innovative products in a structured regulatory framework for existing investors.

The law is due to enter into force on July 22, 2013.


Liechtenstein to weaken asset and tax protection

Liechtenstein’s government has recently submitted a proposal for consultation, which aims to extend legal assistance in criminal tax matters by implementing changes to the Principality’s existing legal assistance law and by agreeing to the additional protocol to the European legal aid agreement.

Under current law, providing legal assistance in criminal tax matters is strictly prohibited. Liechtenstein’s government maintains in its release, however, that although there are three exceptions to this, the provisions are currently very limited both as regards their content and as regards the circle of countries with which such requests are accepted.

The government explains that with its declaration of March 12, 2009, Liechtenstein agreed with the states concerned to implement international standards pertaining to an exchange of information in tax matters. It notes that in the tax information and double taxation agreements that have so far been concluded, the Principality has pledged to provide comprehensive mutual assistance, including searches and seizures, some of which fall outside of its own criminal tax proceedings.

Consequently, the government argues that such restrictive legislation in the area of legal assistance in criminal tax matters is inconsistent with its newly adopted strategy and therefore carries a very real risk to the country’s reputation, which, it emphasizes, should not be underestimated.

Liechtenstein’s government has therefore proposed that the scope for providing legal assistance in criminal tax matters be widened. It has also underlined the need to agree to the additional protocol to the European agreement on legal assistance in criminal matters, and suggested that the general fiscal reservation provided for under article 51 of the country’s legal assistance law (RHG) should be removed and replaced by the introduction of a new article 51 paragraph 1 providing that limited legal assistance should also be permitted in the case of tax evasion.

The consultation period is due to last until July 29.


Liechtenstein – New tax structure

Determined to increase the attractiveness of Liechtenstein as a finance centre, the principality’s state parliament has adopted the government’s bill for a comprehensive reform of taxation, and has given the green light for the law to enter into force as planned on January 1, 2011. According to the government, the modern, competitive new tax system fulfils current requirements for legislation that is both internationally compatible and in accordance with European law.

Designed to be more transparent, the new simplified tax law retains the traditionally low tax rates to prevent an increased fiscal burden on individuals, excepting those with particularly high income. Indeed, as a result of the new tax structure, the tax burden will be reduced for families and taxpayers on low income.

Following the state parliament’s meeting, Liechtenstein’s Prime Minister Klaus Tschütscher welcomed the decision to adopt the historic reform of the country’s taxation after almost 50 years of the existing law. According to Tschütscher, the adoption of the modern tax law once again reinforces Liechtenstein’s political credibility and its ability to reform. The new law will serve to strengthen the principality in the current drive towards globalization and to improve the attractiveness and stability of Liechtenstein’s financial centre, he added.

An attractive system of personal income taxation

The reforms usher in a simplified system for individuals calculating their own taxes. As regards the taxation of real estate and land, this will follow the same practice as before.

Abolition of inheritance and gift tax

Inheritance and gift tax will be abolished for individuals to avoid multiple taxation. Currently, inherited or donated money is already subject to wealth and acquisitions tax. In general, however, the principle is that acquired income should basically only be taxed once during the course of an individual’s lifetime.

Benefits for companies in Liechtenstein

The government’s tax reform aims to strengthen Liechtenstein’s position in terms of international competition, as it is all too aware that tax rates are one of the key factors in business location.

Consequently, the new tax law, which was developed in close cooperation with industry, is designed to provide companies located in Liechtenstein with better opportunities to structure themselves and to adapt to global competition. The introduction of the new flat rate tax of 12.5% for all companies will ensure that all companies are taxed equally. With only a few exceptions, all businesses will be required to pay a minimum income tax of CHF 1,200 (EUR 908).

According to the government, the unequal treatment of foreign and own-capital will also be removed thanks to the introduction of the company own-capital interest deduction. Provisions on group taxation will also be included in the new law. As a result of these changes, the government believes that it will be even more attractive to set up a new company in Liechtenstein.

Abolition of coupon and capital tax

As regards legal entities, coupon tax and capital tax will be abolished, although coupon tax will still apply to any reserves as at December 31, 2010. However, in the first two years following entry into force of the new law, there will be the possibility to calculate this tax at a reduced rate of 2%. Thereafter, the tax will be calculated at a rate of 4%. The government’s decision is designed to enable a company to re-invest its capital and will serve to further increase Liechtenstein as a business location.

Measures to strengthen Liechtenstein as a centre for philanthropy

As under the existing law, legal persons that exclusively pursue charitable goals, will be exempt from tax. In the areas of both civil and tax law, the same concept of charitable status will also apply.

Attractive taxation for private asset structures

The tax law provides that legal persons can be used to manage wealth as an independent legal person and indeed as a private asset structure (Privatvermögensstruktur – PVS), provided that the PVS is exclusively active in wealth management and does not engage in any other economic activity.

Modern and compatible law

The government maintains that by making the new tax law compatible with European law, this has increased legal certainty, in particular for financial intermediaries and for their customers. The tax policy now complies with European standards.

Commenting on the reform, Prime Minister Tschütscher stated that it is a big step towards a successful future and has served to dramatically increase the economic location of Liechtenstein as a result.