Robert Desax
lic. iur., LL. M. (tax), Attorney at Law
Certified Tax Expert

Robert Desax Robert Desax Robert Desax Robert Desax


Robert Desax is a managing associate in the tax team. He works in the fields of national and international taxation. He represents clients in controversial tax matters and assists private clients regarding the tax aspects of estate and wealth planning. He regularly advises on cross-border implications of international taxation, especially on the application of double tax treaties, on issues in connection with the refund of Swiss withholding taxes in international structures, on the Swiss tax treatment of trusts as well as on the redomiciliation of individuals and businesses to Switzerland. In addition, he also advises and represents clients on corporate tax matters, especially in negotiations with tax authorities during transfer pricing audits and regarding reorganizations. Robert Desax is a frequent speaker on tax matters and is a regular author of contributions for tax publications. He was named one of Switzerland's 20 Tax Controversy Leaders in 2015 by the International Tax Review.

Born in 1978, Robert Desax graduated from the University of Fribourg, Faculty of law, in 2002 (lic. iur. 2002 including special mention Bilingual Licentiate). In 2005 he passed the Zurich bar exam and obtained an LL.M. in international tax law from the Vienna University of Economics and Business in 2006. After that, he worked in the international tax department of one of the Big Four audit firms. In 2010 he earned the diploma as a Swiss certified tax expert. Prior to joining Walder Wyss in 2016, he was a Senior Associate in a large international law firm, where he had been a member of the tax team for more than five years. He is a member of the International Fiscal Association (IFA), of EXPERTsuisse and of the Swiss/French Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Desax speaks French, German (as first and second native languages) and English. He is registered with the Zurich Bar and is admitted to practice in all Switzerland.

Contact
Robert Desax
Direct phone: +41 58 658 52 77


Walder Wyss Ltd.
Seefeldstrasse 123
P.O. Box
8034 Zurich
Switzerland
Phone +41 58 658 58 58
Fax +41 58 658 59 59
vCard


Practice Areas


 
 
 
 
 

Robert Desax Robert Desax Robert Desax Robert Desax

Robert Desax
lic. iur., LL. M. (tax), Attorney at Law / Certified Tax Expert

Robert Desax is a managing associate in the tax team. He works in the fields of national and international taxation. He represents clients in controversial tax matters and assists private clients regarding the tax aspects of estate and wealth planning. He regularly advises on cross-border implications of international taxation, especially on the application of double tax treaties, on issues in connection with the refund of Swiss withholding taxes in international structures, on the Swiss tax treatment of trusts as well as on the redomiciliation of individuals and businesses to Switzerland. In addition, he also advises and represents clients on corporate tax matters, especially in negotiations with tax authorities during transfer pricing audits and regarding reorganizations. Robert Desax is a frequent speaker on tax matters and is a regular author of contributions for tax publications. He was named one of Switzerland's 20 Tax Controversy Leaders in 2015 by the International Tax Review.

Born in 1978, Robert Desax graduated from the University of Fribourg, Faculty of law, in 2002 (lic. iur. 2002 including special mention Bilingual Licentiate). In 2005 he passed the Zurich bar exam and obtained an LL.M. in international tax law from the Vienna University of Economics and Business in 2006. After that, he worked in the international tax department of one of the Big Four audit firms. In 2010 he earned the diploma as a Swiss certified tax expert. Prior to joining Walder Wyss in 2016, he was a Senior Associate in a large international law firm, where he had been a member of the tax team for more than five years. He is a member of the International Fiscal Association (IFA), of EXPERTsuisse and of the Swiss/French Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Desax speaks French, German (as first and second native languages) and English. He is registered with the Zurich Bar and is admitted to practice in all Switzerland.

 
 
 
 
 

Robert Desax
Direct phone: +41 58 658 52 77

Walder Wyss Ltd.
Seefeldstrasse 123
P.O. Box
8034 Zurich
Switzerland
Phone +41 58 658 58 58
Fax +41 58 658 59 59


vCard

Practice Areas Publications

















Der Standort Liechtenstein in der internationalen Steuerplanung: Anwendungsbeispiele aus der Schweiz (Liechtenstein in international tax planning: Case studies from Switzerland)

Speaker: Robert Desax
Liechtensteinische Steuerkonferenz 2016
Vaduz 29 November 2016





Automatic information exchange and the OECD's BEPS project

Speaker: Robert Desax
Commodities Trade Finance Lunch
Geneva 16 June 2016




Neue Steuerplanungsmöglichkeiten mit Holdinggesellschaften aus schweizerischer und liechtensteinischer Perspektive

Speakers: Robert Desax and Roland Pfister
Steuerkonferenz 2015
Zurich 21 October 2015


FusG-Kommentar: Art. 19 DBG (Umstrukturierung von Personenunternehmungen)

by Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Fusionsgesetz sowie die einschlägigen Bestimmungen des IPRG und des Steuerrechts"
2. Auflage, Berne 2015, pp. 834 et seq.


Handling Tax Disputes in Switzerland

co-authored by Denis Berdoz, Hans Koch, Robert Desax and Aïcha Ladlami
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Baker & McKenzie Handling Tax Disputes in Europe 2015 Handbook "
Zurich 2015


OHADA – ökonomische Rahmenbedingungen

by Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Das Handelsrecht der OHADA"
Zurich 2015


Recent developments in Switzerland

by Robert Desax, Marnin Michaels and Anne Gibson
in: Globe Law and Business (Editor[s]), "STEP Handbook Family Offices"
UK 2015, pp. p. 361 et seq.


Steuerrecht 2014/2015(Tax Law 2014/2015)

by Robert Desax, Nina Keller and Kilian Perroulaz
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Jahrbuch Entwicklungen im schweizerischen Wirtschaftsrecht"
Zurich 2015


The political and economic situation in the OHADA-States

by Robert Desax
in: "An Introduction to the Laws of the OHADA"
2015


Transfer Pricing in Switzerland

co-authored by Denis Berdoz, Hans Koch, Robert Desax and Aïcha Ladlami
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Transfer Pricing Handbook"
2015


Neue Steuerplanungsmöglichkeiten mit Holdinggesellschaften aus schweizerischer und liechtensteinischer Perspektive

Speakers: Robert Desax and Roland Pfister
Steuerkonferenz 2015
Vaduz 29 September 2015



Structuration de détention d'immeubles à l'étranger par des privés en Suisse

Speaker: Robert Desax
Actualité dans le domaine de la fiscalité immobilière
Neuchâtel 10 September 2015



Internationales Steuerrecht(International Tax Law)

Speaker: Robert Desax
LL.M.-Kurs Universität Zürich
Zurich 8 May 2015


Direktes vs. indirektes Halten von Wertschriften und Beteiligungen

Speaker: Robert Desax
Institut für Finanzdienstleistungen Zug 28 April 2015


Risk assessment and mitigation of tax exposure after the death of the decedent

Speakers: Sabine Herzog and Robert Desax
Breakfast Briefing
Zurich 21 April 2015




Exchange of Tax Information: A New World Order?

Speaker: Robert Desax
Zurich 18 November 2014


Wegweisende Gerichtsentscheide im Steuerrecht

Speaker: Robert Desax
Unternehmer Forum Schweiz
Bad Ragaz 23 October 2014


Steuerrecht 2013/2014(Tax Law 2013/2014)

by Robert Desax, Nina Keller and Kilian Perroulaz
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Jahrbuch Entwicklungen im schweizerischen Wirtschaftsrecht"
Zurich 2014


Tax Transaction Guide Switzerland

by Per Prod'hom, Mario Kumschick and Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "EMEA Tax Transaction Guide 2014"
2014


Popular Vote on Lump Sum Taxation in Switzerland

by Robert Desax and Mario Kumschick
in: "Client Alert" 3 September 2014


Wealth structuring for Swiss residents

Speakers: Mario Kumschick and Robert Desax
Business Briefing
10 December 2013


Steuerpolitische Entwicklungen in der Schweiz

Speaker: Robert Desax
Breakfast Briefing
Zurich 19 November 2013


Risiken von Steuerberatern

Speaker: Robert Desax
Unternehmer Forum Schweiz
Bad Ragaz 24 October 2013


Offshore structures under scrutiny of Swiss tax authorities

by Robert Desax, Mario Kumschick and Nina Keller
in: "Journal of International Taxation" 10/2013


Steuerrecht 2012/2013(Tax Law 2012/2013)

by Robert Desax, Michael Gusterer and Nina Keller
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Jahrbuch Entwicklungen im schweizerischen Wirtschaftsrecht"
Zurich 2013


Tax Disputes in Switzerland

by Denis Berdoz, Hans Koch, Per Prod'hom and Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Handbook Handling Tax Disputes in Europe "
2013


Transfer Pricing Switzerland

by Denis Berdoz, Hans Koch, Per Prod'hom and Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Transfer Pricing Handbook"
2013


US-Swiss tax dispute: A step in the right direction

by René Matteotti and Robert Desax
in: "STEP Journal" 19 July 2013



Highest Swiss court strikes down offshore finance branches

co-authored by Robert Desax and Mario Kumschick
in: "Journal of International Taxation" 4/2013


Tax Planning for Family Offices

Speakers: Robert Desax and Mario Kumschick
Business Briefing
Zurich 4 April 2013




Steuerrecht 2011/2012(Tax Law 2011/2012)

by Robert Desax, Michael Gusterer and Nina Keller
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Jahrbuch Entwicklungen im schweizerischen Wirtschaftsrecht"
Zurich 2012


Tax Transaction Guide 2012: Chapter Switzerland

by Per Prod'hom, Robert Desax and Michael Gusterer
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "EMEA Tax Transaction Guide 2012"
2012


Effiziente Strukturierung von indirekten Immobilieninvestments im Ausland

Speakers: Theodor Härtsch and Robert Desax
Institut für Finanzdienstleistungen Zug 21 September 2012


Lump Sum taxation still under pressure

by Robert Desax
in: "Journal of International Taxation" 7/2012


Tax survival kit

Speakers: Mark Livschitz and Robert Desax
Business Briefing Glockenhof
Zurich 21 June 2012



Schenkungs- und Erbschaftssteuerinitiative

Speaker: Robert Desax
Vaduz 13 December 2011



Taxation of cross-border investments between Switzerland and Israel

Speaker: Robert Desax
Academy & Finance Zurich and Geneva
Zurich/Geneva 29 November 2011


Steuerrechtliche Entwicklungen 2011/2012

Speakers: Hans Koch, Michael Gusterer and Robert Desax
Breakfast Meeting
22 November 2011


Deutschland und die Schweiz unterzeichnen Steuerabkommen – Was soll es bringen?

by Sonja Klein and Robert Desax


Steuerrecht 2010/2011(Tax Law 2010/2011)

by Robert Desax, Michael Gusterer and Miriam Kaufmann
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Jahrbuch Entwicklungen im schweizerischen Wirtschaftsrecht"
Zurich 2011


Chapter Switzerland

by Per Prod'hom, Brice Thionnet, Roxana Leske and Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "EMEA Tax Transaction Guide 2011"
2011


Transfer Pricing in Switzerland

by Hans Koch and Robert Desax
in: Baker & McKenzie (Editor[s]), "Transfer Pricing Handbook"
2011


Proposed Swiss national estate and gift tax

by Robert Desax and Mario Kumschick



Échange d'information en matière fiscale: La Position Suisse

Speaker: Robert Desax
Séminaire IFE Benelux
Luxembourg 8 June 2011




Switzerland: Developments in Switzerland's Double Tax Treaty network

by Armin Marti, Robert Desax and Luca Christen
in: "Tax Planning International" 12/2009, pp. 32 et seq.



Taxpayer Status in the Course of Dispute Settlement under WTO Law

by Robert Desax
in: "The Relevance of WTO Law for Tax Matters"
Vienna 2006, pp. p. 515 et seq.


Deals and Cases

E.CF S.A.S. acquires majority interest in Andy Mannhart AG

On 16 July 2018, E.CF S.A.S., the European leader in the distribution of small equipment and consumables to professionals in the hospitality and catering sectors, acquired a majority interest in Andy Mannhart AG. With this acquisition, E.CF S.A.S. continues its international expansion strategy, adding an important Swiss player to its already broad network of international subsidiaries. 

Walder Wyss has advised E.CF S.A.S. on the transaction. The team was led by Hubertus Hillerström (Partner, Corporate/M&A) and included Alexandre Both (Partner, Corporate/M&A), Robert Desax (Managing Associate, Tax), Laura Luongo (Associate, Employment), Lara Alec (Associate, Corporate/M&A) and Yacine Rezki (Associate, Tax).


Non-punishable voluntary disclosure: new guidance from the SFTA

Today (10 July 2018), the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA) issued guidance to the cantonal tax authorities regarding non-punishable voluntary disclosures of undeclared assets and income. The new guidance defines a reporting procedure that shall ensure that only taxpayers, who disclose undeclared assets or income for the first time, shall be exempt from fines. The taxpayer concerned will especially have to confirm in writing that it is the first time that he applies for the non-punishable voluntary disclosure. The SFTA will hold a central register on these taxpayers.

The guidance can be downloaded here in German and here in French.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Robert Desax.


Artisa Real Estate AG acquires EDDC SA

On 17 April 2018, Artisa Real Estate AG, in Zug, acquired EDDC SA, in Geneva. The investment amount exceeded CHF 20 mio. Following two acquisitions in Zurich, Artisa Real Estate AG continues its expansion strategy in Switzerland in the micro apartment sector. Micro Living Developer AG, an affiliate of Artisa Real Estate AG, will develop the property owned by EDDC SA at Rue du Rocher in Lausanne in micro apartments.

Walder Wyss Ltd. has advised Artisa Real Estate AG on the transaction. The team was led by Davide Jermini (Partner Lugano, M&A) et Alexandre Both (Partner Lausanne, M&A) and included Robert Desax (Managing Associate, Tax) and Grégoire Henriod (Associate, M&A).


Acquisition of Defferrard & Lanz by MoneyPark

MoneyPark, a technology-based mortgage intermediary, has acquired Lausanne-based Defferrard & Lanz SA. Defferrard & Lanz is a mortgage intermediary having a strong position in French-speaking Switzerland, while MoneyPark is primarily present in German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino.

Walder Wyss acted as advisor to the shareholders of Defferrard & Lanz. The Walder Wyss team was led by Luc Defferrard (Partner, Corporate/M&A) and included Alexandre Both (Counsel, Corporate/M&A), Robert Desax (Managing Associate, Tax), Laurent Schmidt (Associate, Corporate/M&A) and Stéphanie Junod (Associate, Corporate/M&A).


Success before the Swiss Supreme Court – Walder Wyss represents a client in a Leading Case on real estate capital gains taxation

The Swiss Supreme Court nullifies a practice of the Zurich tax authorities regarding real estate capital gains taxation and demands the strict observation of federal tax rules by the cantons and the municipalities.

Mr. X lived in a municipality in the Swiss canton of Zurich. In 2011, he sold his property there. He then transferred his domicile to the Swiss canton of Graubünden, where he acquired a new property that was used by him and his wife. Based on the reinvestment of the sale proceeds in self-used real property, the tax office of the Zurich municipality granted a deferral of the real estate capital gains tax (which is available if the new property serves a permanent and exclusively personal use, see art. 12 (3)(e) of the Federal tax harmonization act). At the end of 2012 (after 22 months), Mr. X and his wife had to leave Switzerland for professional reasons and moved to the United Kingdom. They kept the Graubünden property as a secondary residence.

Based on the departure in 2012, the Zurich municipality concluded that the 2011 tax deferral conditions were no longer met and therefore revoked it. Consequently, they asked for payment of the tax on the capital gain derived from the sale in 2011 (CHF 220’000 plus interest). The consecutive appeals filed by Mr. X against that decision were all dismissed by the respective Zurich courts. The Zurich Administrative Tribunal considered in its judgement that a use of the new property that lasted 22 months was too short and could not be characterized as being “permanent” in the sense required by the law in order to qualify for a tax deferral.

In its judgement of 7 March 2017, the Swiss Supreme Court (the Court) approved the appeal of Mr X (represented by Robert Desax of Walder Wyss). The Court concluded that the revocation of the tax deferral by the Zurich municipality violated Swiss federal law. The Court stated that, under federal law, a deferral must be granted if a property that served a permanent and exclusively personal use is sold if the proceeds are reinvested within a reasonable period of time for the acquisition (or construction) of another Swiss property that serves the same purpose. The law does however not require a minimum period of stay at the new place. The Court emphasized that the term “permanent” is defined by federal law exclusively. The cantons and municipalities therefore have no discretion at all when it comes to the interpretation of that term. They must especially not require that additional conditions be met for a tax deferral than the ones already provided for by federal law. It was therefore not permissible for the municipality to revoke the tax deferral on the basis of the subsequent departure. The fact that Mr. X had established a genuine domicile at the new place in Graubünden was decisive (and sufficient) for the Court. The departure after 22 months was not harmful. A domicile under Swiss law does not need to be established “for all eternity”. The Court made it clear that the intention to leave a place at a later stage (due to non-foreseeable circumstances) did not exclude the valid constitution of a domicile.

The Court also put an end to a long-standing practice of the Zurich tax authorities. Based on a circular letter of the Zurich finance department, the Zurich tax authorities require that a taxpayer stay at least five years at the new place in order to benefit from the tax deferral. The Court found that this five-year “standstill” rule violated federal laws as well as the constitution and thereby confirmed the claim made by Mr. X from the outset of the procedure. That particular circular letter was not explicitly quoted by the Zurich authorities as an immediate basis for the revocation of the tax deferral for Mr. X. In the past, the Zurich Administrative Tribunal has however repeatedly stated that it considered that standstill rule to be compliant with federal legislation. Incidentally, it also confirmed this assessment its judgement concerning Mr. X.

Pursuant to the Court’s judgement the five-year standstill rule has become immediately null and void and may not be applied to other ongoing procedures either. The Zurich finance department will thus have to revise its circular letter. Should other cantons require the fulfilment of similar conditions, then the Court’s findings can be invoked by taxpayers and applied to them as well.

Generally speaking, the judgement confirms the Swiss Supreme Court’s traditionally tough stance on the cantons and the municipalities when it comes to the question of their compliance with harmonized federal tax laws.

 

Should you have any questions on the Swiss Supreme Court’s judgement or on its implications please do not hesitate to contact Robert Desax (direct line: +41 58 658 52 77 or robert.desax@walderwyss.com).

Judgement of the Swiss Supreme Court of 7 March 2017, 2C_306/2016, to be published in the Court’s official bulletin. The judgement is available here.


Curriculum Vitae PDF