Co-President of SP should not believe everything in “NZZ”

Cedric Wermuth
SP National Councilor and SP Co-Chairman Céderic Wermuth (Image: SP)

The co-leader of the SP Cédric Wermuth tries to fire up the bourgeois and argue with the liberal “NZZ”. But this goes completely wrong.

The co-president of the Social Democratic Party (SP) of Switzerland, Cédric Wermuth, is currently sharing a video on Tiktok in which he tries to explain the tonnage tax applied in shipping.

According to Wermuth, anyone who has not yet dealt with the subject in depth, and he himself is probably one of them, should please read the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” of February 25, 2001.

Laughs in focus

In the video on Tiktok with the “NZZ” quote, Wermuth shows his speech in parliament and there he wanted to expose the whole system of the tonnage tax as unspeakable.

This is so bad because with the tonnage tax, in a figurative sense, insurance companies are taxed according to the length of their customer lists, software companies according to the length of their computer programs and the media according to the number of published letters, the politician quoted.

With these linguistic images, both the author of the “NZZ” and Wermuth probably thought they had the laughs on their side.

Limping comparisons

But these comparisons are not correct. The tonnage tax, whose introduction the SP has been vehemently fighting for years, is not based on the length of customer lists or computer programs, and certainly not on volume size such as the published letters in the media.

Rather, the concept is used in container shipping, for example, and there as an alternative method for determining profit tax. The assessment basis for this tax is not the profit actually generated, but the fixed loading capacity of the ocean-going vessel.

Number does not matter

This is also stated in the report of the Federal Council, as found out. It shows that in the case of insurance companies or computer firms, for example, the total capacity of the company buildings, and in the case of the media, for example, the size of the editorial offices, should be the decisive factor, and not the number of customers, the length of software or the number of articles or letters published.

In the case of maritime shipping, the number of containers transported does not play a role in the tonnage tax. However, the term “tax” is quite misleading, because it is not a tax in the sense of a levy, but actually the basis of an assessment.

Safes with banks

Only the comparison of the taxation of Swiss banks, such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Raiffeisen, ZKB & Co., according to the size of their safes, which was also mentioned in the “NZZ” and by Wermuth, could be halfway accepted.

But in this case, each bank would have to have only one safe, because with the tonnage tax, each ship represents a separate tax object.

Equal length

The 60 shipping companies currently registered in Switzerland, with their 900 or so ships, could benefit from this tonnage tax if they simply moved their registrations to another country, such as Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Germany, China, India or the U.S.A., offering tonnage tax-friendly legislation.

Internationally, Switzerland must therefore look to the competition.

Payment even with losses

What Wermuth also fails to see in the bill is that the tonnage tax is payable even if not a single container is transported on the ocean-going vessel (or an editorial team does not publish even a single letter). That is, when, such as during the coronavirus pandemic, the ships are stuck in ports and produce only losses.

“The number of ships without employment was at the highest level ever,” it says about the impairment of maritime shipping during the Corona crisis even in the explanatory report on the consultation. So it’s not always at the expense of tax revenues.

Environment and staff

At the same time, the co-president of the SP also fails to recognize that he should actually be much more committed to the tonnage tax and thus to his political clientele.

After all, onboard ships sailing under the Swiss flag, Swiss law applies, and working conditions or environmental standards are likely to be much better there than on a container ship sailing under the flag of offshore ports in Africa or Asia.

The “NZZ” and the journalist should be rather embarrassed by the article. However, in the heat of the moment, lone wolves unfortunately make mistakes in the media from time to time.

Diligence of politicians

Accordingly, the people are likely to demand more care and more knowledge of political business from the party leader of a major Swiss party – with his entire entourage supporting him – when he comments on this in parliament and then blindly shares the whole thing on Tiktok.

In the end, it is clear that the SP co-president Wermuth has not understood the concept around the tonnage tax at all and only wants to attract attention with funny comparisons.


Co-President of SP should not believe everything in “NZZ”

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