Susanne Schreiber started her career in Munich, Germany, as attorney-at-law in an international law firm. She specialised in tax law and qualified as a German tax adviser. After relocating to Switzerland, she qualified as a Swiss certified tax expert and continued to support multinationals and private equity firms in their M&A activities. After heading the Swiss M&A tax department of a big four company, Susanne joined Bär & Karrer AG as co-head of its tax department. Her main focus and expertise is on Swiss and international corporate tax law, mainly advising on complex sophisticated restructurings, capital markets, financing and M&A transactions.
WHAT DREW YOU TO A CAREER AS A LAWYER?
Initially I studied law in order to avail myself of a variety of career options, ranging from the judiciary and in-house counsel to a practising lawyer. I enjoy supporting clients and analysing issues to find the best and smartest solutions to their problems – and as a lawyer the work is intellectually challenging, dynamic and never boring or repetitive!
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SPECIALISE IN CORPORATE TAX?
Tax is a very creative and multidimensional area, at the interface between the legal interpretation of laws and the economic structuring of transactions. I like to assess and model accounting and tax implications as this adds an additional layer to pure legal work. This combination attracted me to specialising in tax and I moved from a law firm to a big four company to improve and more acutely develop my economic understanding and international corporate tax skills.
HOW HAS THE TAX DEPARTMENT AT BÄR & KARRER DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BECAME CO-HEAD?
Daniel Bader and I have been heading the tax department of Bär & Karrer since the end of 2015. This partnership is a perfect match in light of our focus areas (tax advice for private clients and companies respectively) and our backgrounds. We have meanwhile successfully expanded our practice with a new tax partner in Geneva and have grown to the second largest tax team within a Swiss law firm.
IN WHAT WAY HAS THE OECD BEPS ACTION PLAN IMPACTED THE PRACTICE AREA IN SWITZERLAND?
Swiss companies have a very strong international footprint with many multinationals choosing to have a Swiss base or headquarters. The increase in tax transparency (eg, with the exchange of tax rulings or country-by-country reporting) as well as the discussion in the public domain on moral aspects of tax structuring, have prompted many companies to reconsider their setup. Since Switzerland is well known for its stable economy, business-friendly environment and highly qualified workforce as well as moderate taxes many companies have increased their substance in Switzerland or have relocated their offshore activities to Switzerland. The changes to the transfer pricing guidelines have put additional pressure on groups to establish robust, sustainable structures and the focus of our work is now more on the avoidance or mitigation of double taxation, in particular in view of many unilateral anti-abuse provisions or rules to restrict the deduction of cross-border expenses.
WHAT CURRENT PROPOSALS ARE THERE FOR CORPORATE TAX REFORM IN SWITZERLAND AND HOW DO YOU EXPECT THEY WILL IMPACT THE MARKET?
Swiss tax reform has been the subject of lengthy discussion over the past few years. The proposals shall ensure international acceptance of the Swiss tax system by abolishing privileged tax regimes and at the same time shall maintain its competitiveness. It is crucial that the long-awaited reform is now resolved to increase planning certainty for Swiss taxpayers. The tax reform proposals include certain new measures like a patent box regime and likely a limited deduction for security equity. Indeed, many cantons have already communicated intended reductions of corporate tax rates – which offers new planning opportunities.
ARE YOU SEEING ANY SIGNIFICANT TRENDS IN TAX LITIGATION IN THE DOMESTIC MARKET?
Whereas Switzerland is well known for its collaborative relationships between tax authorities, taxpayers and tax advisers, in particular based on a system of swift, reliable advance tax rulings, we are beginning to also see more tax disputes or litigation, in particular in the area of withholding tax refunds, exchange of information or cross-border activities. The first international arbitration cases in Switzerland (eg, with Germany) are now being decided on and should be a strong tool where mutual agreement procedures could not resolve disputes. The further development of the international tax arbitration practice in Switzerland is a trend to be followed.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNGER LAWYER STARTING OUT IN THE CORPORATE TAX PRACTICE AREA?
My advice would be to try to work as broadly as possible since it is important as a tax lawyer to have in mind not only corporate tax aspects, but also the impact for individual shareholders and indirect taxes, which are becoming increasingly important. I would recommend investing in further tax education as a certified tax adviser, with a tax LLM or similar and to exchange views not only with lawyers but also economists, in particular for a good understanding of transfer pricing.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE PRACTICE AREA EVOLVING IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
International tax rules, like the implementation of the OECD BEPS action plan with the multilateral agreement or the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directives, will play a stronger role and the tax world will become more challenging since domestic, foreign and international tax rules are changing at an ever faster pace and must be monitored for global taxpayers. Current tools to avoid double taxation may no longer prove sufficient in this environment going forward and measures to avoid tax base erosion may result in double taxation, as seen with the current US tax reform. Rules regarding the taxation of the digital economy may also have significant implications, in particular if not globally aligned, and it will become increasingly more complex for multinationals to apply such rules on their changing, mobile businesses activities – as well as on their mobile workforce.
Susanne Schreiber has "great tax knowledge" and a "pragmatic approach" to cross-border transactions. Clients laud her ability "to explain very complex topics in an understandable way".
Susanne Schreiber is a partner at Bär & Karrer and co-heads the tax department.
Susanne Schreiber has extensive experience in international corporate tax matters, in particular in domestic and cross-border M&A transactions and reorganisations. She advises on tax aspects of financing, acquisition structuring as well as capital market transactions and management incentive schemes.
She frequently works on vendor and buy-side transactions, both for private equity clients, multinationals or individuals, covering due diligence, pre-deal structuring as well as carve-outs and post-merger integration from a tax perspective.
Furthermore, Susanne Schreiber regularly supports Swiss multinationals in their tax planning work, including tax advice on restructurings, as well as tax litigation work.
Susanne Schreiber is a German attorney-at-law and tax adviser as well as a Swiss certified tax expert. Before joining Bär & Karrer she worked for an international law firm in Germany and for one of the big four companies in Zurich where she last headed the M&A tax department.
Susanne regularly speaks on tax-related topics in the area of M&A or corporate tax law and publishes specialist articles as well as commentaries in the field of taxes. She is a member of the exam commission for Swiss certified tax experts, the tax chapter of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, the tax commission of EXPERTsuisse and a member of the International Fiscal Association and International Bar Association.
Susanne Schreiber is a “top-tier adviser in the Zurich area” who is "very active in M&A transactions. Sources call Schreiber "a “brilliant lawyer”.
Susanne Schreiber is a partner at Bär & Karrer in Zurich and co-heads the tax department.
Susanne Schreiber has extensive experience in international corporate tax matters, in particular in domestic and cross-border M&A transactions. Her work covers the tax aspects of pre-deal carve-outs and reorganisations, due diligence, acquisition structuring, financing and post-transaction integration both in public and private M&A deals as well as SPA advice and M&A tax litigation. She advises on tax matters of capital market transactions like IPOs and the tax efficient structuring of management incentive schemes.
Furthermore, she regularly supports Swiss multinationals in their tax planning work, in particular with respect to business restructurings and domestic and international tax developments, in discussions with tax authorities as well as tax litigation.
Susanne Schreiber is a German attorney-at-law and tax adviser as well as a Swiss certified tax expert. Before joining Bär & Karrer she worked for an international law firm in Germany and for one of the big four companies in Zurich where she last headed the Swiss M&A tax department.
She regularly speaks on tax-related topics in the area of Swiss and international corporate tax law and publishes specialist articles as well as commentaries in the field of taxes.
She is a member of the exam commission for Swiss Certified Tax Experts, the tax chapter of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, the International Fiscal Association, the International Bar Association and the EXPERTsuisse tax commission. Susanne Schreiber speaks German and English.
Susanne Schreiber won the award Rising Star: Tax at the IFLR Europe Women in Business Law Awards 2016 and is listed as a “woman-in-tax leader” in the International Tax Review.
Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.
Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.