The term communication (also) refers to the means used for sending or receiving information. Due to the nature of the means for communication, Switzerland has -like other countries- laid down specific rules regarding the application of VAT in the field of telecommunication.
Article 7 and Article 8 Swiss VAT Act lay down the rules for the determination of the place of supply of goods respectively services.
Article 10 Par 2. letter b Swiss VAT Act determines that the exemption of compulsory Swiss VAT liability in connection with reverse charge does not apply to foreign companies that supply telecommunication or electronically supplied services to non-taxable recipients, when for purposes of Swiss VAT the place of supply of these services is considered to be within the Swiss tax territory.
Article 10 Swiss VAT Regulation (‘MWSTV’) indicates which services qualify or do not qualify as telecommunication or electronically supplied services.
- purchase of mobile services: a foreign company that purchases mobile services from Swiss suppliers should not be charged Swiss VAT as for purposes of Swiss VAT the place of supply of these mobile services is considered to be abroad -i.e. the place where the foreign company has its place of business or branch. However, experience shows that from time to time it can happen that a foreign company is nevertheless charged Swiss VAT. The regulation for refund of Swiss VAT to foreign companies only applies to VAT that has been charged in line with Swiss VAT regulations. Swiss VAT that is charged, although undue, is not refunded by the Swiss VAT authorities. Instead, the foreign company will have to claim the undue charged and paid Swiss VAT directly from the supplier.
- shared use of antenna: when a Swiss telecom company makes an antenna/telecommunication installation available for use or exploitation, in order to transmit, broadcast or receive signales, images, texts or information of any kind, that for Swiss VAT purposes such transaction is treated as a supply of goods. The location of the antenna/telecommunication installation within the Swiss tax territory implies that Swiss VAT is due on such transaction. The foreign company can claim the charged Swiss VAT under the regulation for refund of Swiss VAT to foreign companies -provided all conditions have been met.
- installation services: for Swiss VAT purposes the installation, adjustment or configuration on site is treated as a supply of goods, and thus subject to Swiss VAT -which can be claimed by the foreign company under the regulation for refund of Swiss VAT to foreign companies -provided all conditions have been met.
- transport: a foreign company that uses an antenna in Switzerland may have to visit the actual location of the antenna, for example when equipment needs to be installed or when configuration on site is necessary. Sometimes antennas can only be reached by air. Under such circumstances, the foreign company may have to use helicopter transfer services. A foreign company that has equipment transported within Switzerland to an antenna location should not be charged Swiss VAT on the part that concerns the transport of the equipment. However, the transport of persons by helicopter to the antenna location is subject to Swiss VAT and should be charged with Swiss VAT. The latter amount can be claimed under the regulation for refund of Swiss VAT to foreign companies -provided all conditions have been met. Often these two types of transport are charged in one invoice, without distinguishing the different VAT treatment, in which case the foreign company must point the Swiss supplier on the correct VAT treatment.
- supply of telecommunication services: a foreign company, with a Swiss colocation, that provides telecommunication services or electronically provided services to recipients outside Switzerland will not have to charge Swiss VAT on those sevices, as for purposes of Swiss VAT these services are considered to be supplied at the place where the recipient has its place of business or branch.