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Following the withdrawal of the reservation concerning Art. 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention, the question arises as to whether double taxation agreements containing extended administrative assistance provisions are subject to referendum. Under Art. 141 of the Federal Constitution, a referendum may be sought on international treaties that contain important legislative provisions or whose implementation requires the enactment of federal legislation.
Applying this principle, double taxation agreements have to date been subject to an optional referendum if they contained new, additional obligations for Switzerland. If they were consistent in terms of content with double taxation agreements that had already been concluded, they were not subject to referendum. In all cases, the decision as to whether or not to make a double taxation agreement subject to an optional referendum has always rested with parliament.
Today the Federal Council reaffirmed this practice with regard to the double taxation agreements that are to be renegotiated. This means that the first of the renegotiated agreements will be made subject to an optional referendum. Further double taxation agreements though will not be subject to a referendum unless they contain new obligations in addition to those contained in the previously concluded agreement. The final decision, however, continues to rest with parliament.