If, like me, you suffer from déformation professionelle, you ask yourself time and again whether the VAT charged to you is really payable. But there is apparently something even worse. A senior lawyer in the Federal Department of Finance (according to Watson researches) has taken a case to the Federal Court. He wants a judgement on whether Billag rightly invoiced him the VAT (in the amount of CHF 11.28) on radio and television license fees. The Federal Court has decided that the case should be referred back to the prior instance. But it is still open whether the radio and television license fees are rightly charged with VAT.
The judgement is an object lesson in procedural law and the comments on the process run to several pages. Before the Federal Court and, before that, the Federal Administrative Court have decided on the matter, the competences were referred from Billag to Bakom and on to the FTA and then back down the chain. And now it is again the turn of the Federal Administrative Court, before finally the Federal Court will probably have to reach a final judgement.
Of some practical relevance is the question answered with the judgement who decides whether VAT is rightly payable. This is not – as many probably suspect – the FTA, but the civil court. Art. 6 VAT Law states that, in the case of disputes about the transfer of the tax, the civil courts are competent. That applies also if the recipient of the service contests the objective taxability of a specific service and for this reason refuses to pay the tax to the person rendering the service.
Therefore a request by the recipient of the service to the FTA to determine whether the provider of the service invoiced the tax rightly or not, will be rejected by the FTA for lack of competence.