The Canton of Ticino is part of a country notable for its stability, both politically and socially. This ensures steady economic growth, facilitated by a streamlined administrative system capable of responding to inhabitants’ requests promptly, as well as a fair, highly competitive tax system. The canton administration and the municipalities are aware of the importance of attracting new businesses to the area in order to enhance the economic fabric with skills and renewed dynamism. Lugano, the centre of the Ticino financial scene, is the third main Swiss financial centre after Zurich and Geneva, and is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city on a very human scale.
An efficient administrative system allows for the creation of a new company very quickly – in just a week – while fruitful interaction with the Canton’s authorities makes getting established easy by simplifying possible critical issues.
The proximity between businesses and institutions takes concrete form in the activities of various bodies that support anyone choosing to set up their business in Ticino. Ticino for Finance concentrates on supporting the development of the financial centre, while Copernico is an area marketing project which has facilitated the moves of approximately 250 companies to Ticino over a period of 15 years. In addition, four Regional Development Bodies (ERSs) work to support the establishment of new businesses in operational terms and the AGIRE Foundation promotes technology transfers and innovation.
The Swiss legislative system is one of the pillars on which the country’s stability is firmly built. In particular, in addition to the reference law, LFINMA, a further seven simple laws provide a clear, concise framework for the financial sector. FINMA is the Swiss federal authority established by the LFINMA law to supervise the financial markets and their operators.
A long tradition in the financial sector has contributed to developing high levels of skill together with the excellent Swiss universities, which in the economic field notably include the University of St Gallen, the University of Zurich and the prestigious IMD in Lausanne, as well as the University of Italian Switzerland. A broad, high-quality pool of human resources therefore makes it easy to find even highly specialised professionals in Ticino.
Located in the heart of Europe, Ticino has a strategic position from which it is easy to reach the major capitals via the city airport just 15 minutes from the centre, or via the international hub of Milano Malpensa, less than an hour from Lugano. The infrastructure is a great credit to the Canton, and constant improvement works ensure that a high-level service is provided. For example, when Alptransit opens in 2016, it will be possible to travel from Lugano to Zurich in just 1.5 hours, while Milan can already be reached in just 60 minutes.
Key professionals and companies have gathered around the financial centre to simplify and expand their businesses. Switzerland and Ticino are also keeping pace with the ICT needs of their operators, for example by being among the best in the world for Internet bandwidth per user.
Getting established in Ticino means becoming part of a reliable financial centre that generates approximately 2.5 billion francs, more than 10% of the Canton’s GDP, and whose values are client focus and personal contact, the result of a long tradition in private banking. Setting up in business in Ticino also means grasping the challenge inherent in a political arena – institutions and operators working together to combine tradition and renewal.
Normally in Ticino, the actual tax burden on profits is around 20% with very limited tax on equity of no more than 0.3%, but the tax authorities can also be flexible and pragmatic when it comes to specific needs. As a further benefit to the taxpayer, Canton law provides that taxes are deducted as a cost when determining net taxable profit. Dividends and capital income are also subject to preferential tax rates and in particular they are subject to the anticipatory tax system, while capital gains are exempt from taxation. Finally, bear in mind that the standard rate of VAT in Switzerland is 8%.
For incomes in the millions, the maximum tax burden can vary from 34% to 41.5% depending on the municipality of residence, as there are three levels of taxation (federal, canton-level and a municipal-level multiplier). The latter in particular provides for a very gradual progression in the rates as income grows, alongside deductions that can have a notable impact on determining taxable incomes. In addition, on a related note, a husband and wife benefit from being treated as a single taxpayer, and submit a single tax declaration. Assets are only used for calculating canton-level tax and municipal tax, collectively amounting to only a few tenths of a percent. Finally, inheritance tax in the Canton of Ticino is zero for direct descendants and direct relatives in the ascending line.