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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

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”.

Questions & Answers

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 area of expertise is Swiss and international corporate tax law, mainly advising on complex sophisticated restructurings, capital markets, financing and M&A transactions.

What has been your most interesting tax case to date and why?

The good thing about tax law is, in my view, that every case is different and interesting! Certain publicly disclosed recent cases – like the Alcon spin-off from Novartis and the various restructurings of UBS in Switzerland – stand out due to their size, as well as their complexity and need for innovative solutions. I enjoyed working so closely over a longer period with the experienced in-house tax teams (as well as the M&A, legal and accounting departments), and being an integrated part of the projects. The need to obtain advance confirmations by the Swiss tax authorities required quite substantial work in view of changing factors, and I appreciated the professional and timely treatment of our requests by the tax authorities.

Switzerland’s tax reform is now approved for 2020. How do you expect these reforms to impact the Swiss market and legal practice?

The certainty of a positive referendum result in May 2019 was an important, long-awaited sign for businesses in Switzerland. The next step is now cantonal implementation – major cantons such as Basel and Geneva have already approved their amended tax laws, inter alia, providing for significantly reduced tax rates. Zurich recently confirmed the cantonal changes and makes use of all new measures, including the mandatory patent box (in line with international standards), and optional F&E super-deduction and notional interest deduction. The federal reform provides for a toolbox of measures and puts it to the cantons’ discretion as to which measures will be implemented and how. This will increase the competition between cantons, and the application of the new rules in practice raise new questions for taxpayers, advisers and tax authorities –    in particular for intercantonal companies. Further, the abolition of the privileged tax regimes requires companies to plan now how they can best transition into the new tax environment. I expect that the reform will keep the Swiss tax market busy for the next couple of years. In view of the ongoing international developments – for example, the OECD’s initiatives in the field of digital taxation – we can, however, expect no let-up, but rather more changes for all taxpayers to come.

In your previous interview, you indicated that you were seeing more tax litigation in Switzerland. How has this trend evolved over the past year?

This trend is still visible. We see more cases being brought up to federal court, for example, in the area of administrative assistance in tax matters and withholding tax refunds, but also transfer pricing and intercantonal questions – such as redomiciliations within Switzerland and allocation of profits. I expect the latter to become even more prominent, in light of the higher cantonal competition after the tax reform and the willingness of companies to move to another canton within Switzerland with “better” tax rules for the specific company. Whereas the now-abolished privileged tax regimes previously resulted in more or less the same tax burden throughout Switzerland, this is not the case anymore.

In what ways does Bär & Karrer’s corporate tax department distinguish itself from competitors in the market?

We are a seamless team across our tax departments in Zurich, Lugano and Geneva, and have a critical mass with about 25 tax practitioners to cover tax queries of all kind – be it in the area of M&A, financing, transfer pricing law, litigation or general domestic and international tax, as well as private client tax and social security law. We also work closely with our legal colleagues on joint cases to provide our clients with sustainable and high-class solutions. We can always benefit from each other’s deep know-how and high-quality expectations as well as our diversity, due to the different backgrounds of our partners, for example.

You have been particularly busy with capital market transactions and reorganisation work this year. What challenges does this work present to practitioners with your expertise?

Part of my reorganisation work, for example in the financial services sector, is heavily impacted by regulatory constraints and requires a good understanding of the business environment and a close collaboration with other stakeholders and advisers. It is very important to be flexible, and open to adjusting solutions against such limitations or developing new options together with cross-functional teams. This process can sometimes be frustrating, but is also very rewarding if it works out in the end! On the capital market side, I see the biggest challenges in aligning the tax analysis with the accounting treatment of certain instruments (especially new ones) or transactions, and with the actual implementation steps, from a timing and legal perspective.

As a co-founder of the Women in IFA Network (WIN) in Switzerland, could you tell us about the aim of the network and what your goals for it are?

My co-founders and I came across the international WIN-Network some years ago at the annual International Fiscal Association (IFA) conference, and we were inspired by local sub-groups in, for example, Germany. We began the Swiss group two years ago and are proud to now have more than 250 members in our Linkedin group and a series of quarterly meetings (in both Zurich and Romandy) focusing on tax technical and social or “soft skill” topics. One aim of the network is to have more women as speakers, to support the younger generation and help each other with referrals, job offers, practical tips and shared experiences. The support of the IFA as platform is very valuable in increasing participation in WIN.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Susanne Schreiber is hailed for her “great professional knowledge”, “professional manner” and “provision of workable solutions to unprecedented situations.”

Questions & Answers

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 area of expertise is Swiss and international corporate tax law, mainly advising on complex sophisticated restructurings, capital markets, financing and M&A transactions.

Describe your career to date.

I started as attorney-at-law in the M&A and corporate law department of Lovells (now Hogan Lovells) in Munich back in 2002 and moved into tax one year later – which meant a lot of studying for a new area of law, followed by the tax attorney exam and the tax adviser exam. As I found my passion in tax law, I joined the M&A tax department of KPMG in 2006 to experience tax from different, more economic angles. Shortly afterwards the next challenge came: when my husband took a job in Switzerland, I also moved country and jurisdiction – which was not an easy task! I was lucky to stay with KPMG in Zurich, and to have the opportunity to continue with corporate/M&A tax work, in the beginning mainly advising on international, outbound transactions of Swiss multinationals. After the Swiss tax expert exam, I also focused on domestic tax topics, with articles, seminars and work in different tax commissions. After becoming partner and heading the Swiss M&A tax group of KPMG, Bär & Karrer asked me to join its tax team in 2015 to strengthen the corporate / M&A tax practice. Over the past few years, we have grown the tax team in size (we also now have a tax presence in Geneva) and in reputation, resulting in rankings in the top tier of all major guides. I enjoy working with a talented and ambitious group of young people and partner-colleagues, in both the tax team and our other departments, and helping the associates to build their careers as tax lawyers.

What have been the greatest challenges or opportunities that Switzerland’s recent tax reform has posed to lawyers practising in the field?

The challenges on the part of the companies were mainly to keep the tax burden similar to that found under the previous taxation regimes. For us as advisers, the reform was also an opportunity to make use of the toolkit that the reform and the cantonal implementation laws offer, on a tailor-made basis. Whereas most cantons implemented their new tax legislation in 2019, several cantons can only do so in 2020 (due to the legislative process) which made it difficult to plan ahead. The new rules also leave a range of interpretation – for example, with respect to the definition of the F&E super-deduction. This is an interesting and creative task for a lawyer, but can also result in a certain delay in receiving advance confirmation by the competent tax authority, which wants to have some general administrative guidelines or exchange on the practice by other cantons. Further, the practical implementation of the new rules in the first tax returns or tax provision calculations showed some new questions or angles that were not considered in the rather complex legislative process. One area is the intercantonal allocation, where the tax authorities worked hard to come up with a circular on short notice – which definitely cannot address all practical questions – and so some compromises had to be devised.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

Stay curious and eager to learn; be passionate about your work; and be willing to go the extra mile. And communicate: ask questions, ask for feedback, share your concerns or wishes. The rest will come (with a bit of patience as well)!

How do you anticipate the Swiss tax framework changing in the next five years?

Tax law has become more and more international and influenced by OECD initiatives, such as the BEPS actions back in 2015 and now the discussions about the taxation of the digital economy. Switzerland, as a small country with significant global activity from domestic companies, is clearly affected by these developments. Thus, I could imagine responses to, for example, the intended OECD Pillar Two minimum taxes with measures to keep the tax revenues in Switzerland. In addition, international tax litigation will certainly increase with the plans for the taxation of the digital economy; Switzerland would be well advised to participate in means to avoid double taxation, obtain advance certainty (internationally) and implement effective tax controversy tools. This will be a differentiator to increase the attractiveness of Switzerland as tax jurisdiction. 

What is the best piece of career advice you have received?

A senior partner once told me that you need to like your clients – with this attitude, you will best support them, find the best solutions for them and also enjoy working for and with them. And that’s what I do!

WWL says

Susanne Schreiber is hailed as a “Swiss tax expert” by international sources who commend her “very skilful and very systematic” understanding of complex taxation issues.

Questions & Answers

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 area of expertise is Swiss and international corporate tax law, mainly advising on complex sophisticated restructurings, capital markets, financing and M&A transactions.

Describe your career to date.

I started as attorney-at-law in the M&A and corporate law department of Lovells (now Hogan Lovells) in Munich back in 2002 and moved into tax one year later – which meant a lot of studying for a new area of law, followed by the tax attorney exam and the tax adviser exam. As I found my passion in tax law, I joined the M&A tax department of KPMG in 2006 to experience tax from different, more economic angles. Shortly afterwards the next challenge came: when my husband took a job in Switzerland, I also moved country and jurisdiction – which was not an easy task! I was lucky to stay with KPMG in Zurich, and to have the opportunity to continue with corporate/M&A tax work, in the beginning mainly advising on international, outbound transactions of Swiss multinationals. After the Swiss tax expert exam, I also focused on domestic tax topics, with articles, seminars and work in different tax commissions. After becoming partner and heading the Swiss M&A tax group of KPMG, Bär & Karrer asked me to join its tax team in 2015 to strengthen the corporate / M&A tax practice. Over the past few years, we have grown the tax team in size (we also now have a tax presence in Geneva) and in reputation, resulting in rankings in the top tier of all major guides. I enjoy working with a talented and ambitious group of young people and partner-colleagues, in both the tax team and our other departments, and helping the associates to build their careers as tax lawyers.

What have been the greatest challenges or opportunities that Switzerland’s recent tax reform has posed to lawyers practising in the field?

The challenges on the part of the companies were mainly to keep the tax burden similar to that found under the previous taxation regimes. For us as advisers, the reform was also an opportunity to make use of the toolkit that the reform and the cantonal implementation laws offer, on a tailor-made basis. Whereas most cantons implemented their new tax legislation in 2019, several cantons can only do so in 2020 (due to the legislative process) which made it difficult to plan ahead. The new rules also leave a range of interpretation – for example, with respect to the definition of the F&E super-deduction. This is an interesting and creative task for a lawyer, but can also result in a certain delay in receiving advance confirmation by the competent tax authority, which wants to have some general administrative guidelines or exchange on the practice by other cantons. Further, the practical implementation of the new rules in the first tax returns or tax provision calculations showed some new questions or angles that were not considered in the rather complex legislative process. One area is the intercantonal allocation, where the tax authorities worked hard to come up with a circular on short notice – which definitely cannot address all practical questions – and so some compromises had to be devised.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

Stay curious and eager to learn; be passionate about your work; and be willing to go the extra mile. And communicate: ask questions, ask for feedback, share your concerns or wishes. The rest will come (with a bit of patience as well)!

How do you anticipate the Swiss tax framework changing in the next five years?

Tax law has become more and more international and influenced by OECD initiatives, such as the BEPS actions back in 2015 and now the discussions about the taxation of the digital economy. Switzerland, as a small country with significant global activity from domestic companies, is clearly affected by these developments. Thus, I could imagine responses to, for example, the intended OECD Pillar Two minimum taxes with measures to keep the tax revenues in Switzerland. In addition, international tax litigation will certainly increase with the plans for the taxation of the digital economy; Switzerland would be well advised to participate in means to avoid double taxation, obtain advance certainty (internationally) and implement effective tax controversy tools. This will be a differentiator to increase the attractiveness of Switzerland as tax jurisdiction. 

What is the best piece of career advice you have received?

A senior partner once told me that you need to like your clients – with this attitude, you will best support them, find the best solutions for them and also enjoy working for and with them. And that’s what I do!

Global Leader

Corporate Tax - Advisory 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Susanne Schreiber  is identified as one of Switzerland’s premier corporate tax specialists thanks to her remarkable knowledge of all aspects of domestic and international taxation.

Biography

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 an Officer of the IBA Taxes committee as well as 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 has recently been awarded for outstanding quality client service with the Client Choice Award 2020 for Corporate Tax in Switzerland and is listed leading individual in The Legal 500 Europe rankings. In 2016 she won the award Rising Star: Tax at the IFLR Europe Women in Business Law Awards 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 170 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.

Corporate Tax - Controversy 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Susanne Schreiber is a distinguished name in the market, highlighted for her superb work on tax planning and litigation.

Biography

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 an Officer of the IBA Taxes committee as well as 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 has recently been awarded for outstanding quality client service with the Client Choice Award 2020 for Corporate Tax in Switzerland and is listed leading individual in The Legal 500 Europe rankings. In 2016 she won the award Rising Star: Tax at the IFLR Europe Women in Business Law Awards 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 170 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.

National Leader

Switzerland - Corporate Tax 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Susanne Schreiber is hailed as a “Swiss tax expert” by international sources who commend her “very skilful and very systematic” understanding of complex taxation issues.

Biography

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 an officer of the IBA Taxes Committee, 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 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. She has recently been awarded for outstanding quality client service with the Client Choice Award 2020 for corporate tax in Switzerland.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 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.

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