Switzerland Calls Joe Biden's 'Tax Haven' Comment 'Inappropriate and Completely Out of Date'

Swiss officials are pushing back against comments from President Joe Biden after he said that many companies use Switzerland as a tax haven, the Associated Press reported.

In his address to Congress on Wednesday, Biden called for the rich and large corporations to pay their fair share in taxes and said that "a lot of companies also evade taxes through tax havens in Switzerland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands."

"Switzerland considers this highlighting of Switzerland as a tax haven by the USA as inappropriate and completely out of date," Swiss Federal Department of Finance spokeswoman Isabelle Roesch said in an email. "Switzerland meets all international standards in tax matters."

Switzerland has a reputation as a sanctuary of sorts for tax dodgers to hold their money to avoid fiscal authorities abroad. But Swiss officials have been working to change the country's image.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Biden Address Congress Switzerland
Swiss officials are pushing back against comments from President Joe Biden after he said that many companies use Switzerland as a tax haven. Above, Biden addresses a joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Melina Mara/Getty Images

Roesch said "international bodies" have since 2019 repeatedly affirmed that Switzerland fulfills all international tax standards, including on country-by-country reporting and information exchange. She said a Swiss tax reform that year abolished "all tax models criticized by the OECD" group of rich countries.

"The OECD has confirmed this in writing to Switzerland in 2020," Roesch added. "We reported this to the U.S. Treasury last week, as this is not the first time the new administration has made these statements."

She said Finance Minister Ueli Maurer would let U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen know the information "at the earliest opportunity."

While Biden called out offshore tax havens, anti-corruption campaigners said the U.S. should also scrutinize rules that help evaders closer to home.

The London-based Tax Justice Network last year named the United States as the second-biggest enabler of financial secrecy worldwide, after the Cayman Islands and ahead of Switzerland.

Delaware, the state that Biden represented in the Senate for 36 years, has an international reputation for helping companies and wealthy individuals hide the true beneficiaries of anonymous shell companies registered there.

Switzerland President
Swiss officials are pushing back against comments from President Joe Biden after he said that many companies use Switzerland as a tax haven. Above, Swiss President Guy Parmelin speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 23, 2021. Francois Walschaerts/Pool via AP