The latest initiative from the Liberal Green Party is a vote that aims to replace Swiss VAT with a tax on energy. The proposal would eliminate VAT and replace the revenue with a higher tax on non-renewable energy. The tax would be applied to all non-renewable energy products at percentages related to their environmental impact.
The main arguments in favour of this new tax are that it will incentivize emission reduction and clean-tech innovation while reducing Switzerland’s dependence on foreign energy and nuclear power generation. In addition it is claimed that it would reduce the administrative burden on business by eliminating VAT accounting.
The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), the Liberal Radical Party (PLR/FDP), the Swiss Socialists Party (PSS/SPS) and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC/CVP) are all against this initiative. They argue that the level of energy tax required to replace VAT would be so high that it would negatively impact certain households and businesses, in particular low-income families and Swiss firms competing directly with foreign companies.
The UDC also contends that, as general consumption grows and energy use declines, every passing year would create a gap between VAT and the energy tax.
The PSS stresses that VAT is by far the largest stream of federal revenue (around CHF 22 billion per year) and it should not be the subject of a risky experiment.
The most recent polls suggest that the initiative is likely to be rejected by voters on 8 March 2015.
Federal administration website (in French)
Liberal Green Party website (in French)
UDC’s arguments (in French)
PLR’s arguments (in French)
PSS’s arguments (in French)
PDC’s arguments (in French)