Following the rejection of the Corporate Tax Reform III (USR III), the Cantonal Government of Berne intends to implement its planned tax strategy in two stages. In a first stage, the profit tax burden is to be reduced from the current 21.64% to 20.20% by 2019 and to 18.71% by 2020, before being reassessed in a second stage in 2021.

The media conference of the Bernese Government Council on 30 March 2017 marked the opening of the consultation process on the revision of the 2019 tax law. The consultation process will run until 30 June 2017, so that the Berne Government Council can adopt the planned revision of the law for the November 2017 session of the Grand Council.

The Government Council had already adopted a tax strategy for the attention of the Grand Council last August 2016, which took note of it with broad approval in the November 2016 session. The main content of this original tax strategy was a staggered reduction of the profit tax burden in the Canton of Berne over the years 2019 to 2022 from the current 21.64% to 16.37%.

Due to the rejection of the USR III in the referendum of 12 February 2017, it was necessary to revise the original bill: On the one hand, the replacement measures originally provided for in USR III will no longer apply, while on the other hand the Confederation will draft a new tax proposal that could come into force on 1 January 2021. The canton of Berne would then also have to implement a corresponding cantonal proposal by that date. In addition, USR III provided for federal compensation payments to the cantons, which were already taken into account in the original proposal of the Canton of Berne. Whether similar compensation payments will also be included in a new federal reform proposal is still unclear at present, which is why the cantonal tax strategy is to be implemented in two stages, with the aim of ensuring the greatest possible clarity regarding the financial implications.

Accordingly, the present revision of the tax law in 2019 is initially only intended to reduce the maximum profit tax burden to 20.20% in 2019 and to 18.71% in 2020. The further profit tax cuts (2021 and 2022) originally envisaged in the tax strategy are only to be reassessed in a second revision of the tax law in 2021. This second revision will then also deal with the reduction of the capital tax rate and the increase in the deduction for third-party tax.

Together with the media release dated 30 March 2017, the presentation by Finance Director Beatrice Simon on the consultation process for the revision of the 2019 tax law and the subsequent consultation documents were also published: