Golden toilet pops up in Zug to protest unfair taxation

Golden toilet pops up in Zug to protest unfair taxation

As the canton with the highest disposable income per capita and most expensive cars, Zug has often been described as a region dipped in gold. Now, to protest against what they see as unfair taxation, the Young Socialists of Switzerland (JUSO) have gone around the city with a golden toilet.

Golden toilets adorn streets of Zug

On June 8, the residents of Zug awoke to find that their city was the proud host of a golden throne. The gold-plated toilet was accompanied by activists holding signs saying “Parliament has screwed up” and “Zug profits, the rest lose.”

Throughout the day, workers in the centre of the town were able to get a picture with the golden toilet, with activists placing the object outside some of the area's most famous businesses like banks, insurance firms and international companies.

JUSO protests against unfair taxation

It later turned out the stunt was being performed by the Young Socialists of Switzerland (JUSO). In a statement given to Watson, JUSO said the act was in protest against the OECD minimum tax plan, due to be voted on by Swiss citizens on June 18. You can learn about all the federal votes happening on the day by reading our official guide.

If approved, a 15 percent minimum rate on business taxes would be implemented across Switzerland, which according to estimates would net federal and cantonal authorities an extra 2,5 billion francs in tax revenue each year. However, a recent report by the Economics Advisor for the city of Basel, commissioned by JUSO, found that the extra money will not be allocated equally and will benefit low-tax cantons the most.

Zug and Basel to benefit the most from OECD minimum tax

For example, the analysis found that almost half the extra revenue made from the minimum tax would go to Zug and Basel. In fact, Canton Zug will receive 51 times more revenue than St. Gallen. "Since 75 percent of the additional tax revenue from the OECD minimum tax should flow to the cantons, and Parliament has not set any upper limits, two cantons will benefit disproportionately from the proposed implementation," JUSO wrote in a press release.

"With the current implementation of the OECD proposal, Zug receives so much money that they can gild their toilets," noted JUSO president Nicola Siegrist. He told Watson that Zug will “not even allow the population to benefit from the additional income" as according to Siegrist officials plan to use the extra revenue to reduce the wealth tax on corporate executives.

Low-tax cantons to lose lucrative business, says finance director

In contrast, the finance director for Canton Zug, Heinz Tännler, told Watson that while he is begrudgingly in favour of the OECD minimum tax, the amount of money that will be added to cantonal coffers cannot be known until after it is implemented. “The OECD minimum tax is a tax cartel of the major industrialised nations that want to push smaller countries like Switzerland to the wall. The OECD in no way intends to help Switzerland to generate additional tax revenue, but on the contrary to undermine it."

In fact, Tännler argued that the main priority is to make sure Switzerland itself does not lose money as a result of the higher tax rate. He concluded that those cantons with low-tax economies, like Zug, Nidwalden and Basel, will now have to find new ways to attract entrepreneurs.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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