Swiss Banks Moving Forward on Disclosures of U.S. Account Information

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Thorn Law Group reports Swiss Finance Minister's announcement that Switzerland has taken two major steps in dismantling its longstanding institution of bank secrecy by signing the OECD’s Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and agreeing to disclose account information on international data exchange.

Kevin E. Thorn

“It is simply a matter of time before the IRS or other taxing authorities learn about all of a person’s accounts and assets no matter where they are located."

On November 15, Switzerland joined the United States and 56 other countries when it signed the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. OECD Newsroom, November 15, 2013, http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/switzerland-signs-multilateral-convention-on-mutual-administrative-assistance-in-tax-matters.htm. Countries signing the OECD Multilateral Convention agree to provide mutual assistance to other signatory governments, including the exchange of account information on request, as well as assistance in spontaneous tax examinations abroad, and simultaneous multinational tax examinations and tax collection efforts.

In addition to signing the OECD Multilateral Convention, Switzerland has announced its commitment to allow its banks to automatically exchange data with governments and financial centers around the world. Speaking yesterday at a banking conference in Geneva, Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf confirmed that Switzerland is developing a program for an international automatic data exchange that is accepted by the world’s major financial centers. Bloomberg News, November 21, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-21/swiss-on-path-to-automatic-bank-data-exchange-minister.html.

Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group, PLLC notes that “automatic information exchange is quickly becoming the new international standard.” Thorn, a noted international tax attorney representing numerous international banks, businesses and individual accountholders before the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Justice, advised that anybody who thinks their offshore bank accounts, investments or other financial assets will remain secret from the U.S. or other governments is mistaken. “It is simply a matter of time before the IRS or other taxing authorities learn about all of a person’s accounts and assets no matter where they are located. Given the severe penalties for failing to disclose foreign accounts, it is far better for a taxpayer to disclose his accounts to the IRS before the banks do,” cautions Thorn.

The OECD Multilateral Convention is the latest effort by Switzerland to dismantle its bank secrecy traditions. In August, Switzerland and the U.S. announced an agreement for Swiss banks and bankers to make full disclosures to the IRS and Department of Justice of all U.S. taxpayers with accounts at Swiss banks in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The deadline for Swiss banks to disclose account information is December 31, 2013. Thorn expects that the IRS and DOJ will use all of the information they obtain from the Swiss banks’ disclosures to pursue those U.S. taxpayers who continue to fail to come clean about their offshore activities. He adds, “The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice will continue to put pressure on all foreign banks to turn over American client information in order to bring United States taxpayers back into compliance. It is in the best interest of the accountholders to consult with a tax attorney about their requirements and, if necessary, voluntarily disclose their foreign accounts through the IRS Voluntary Disclosure programs in order to avoid the potentially devastating consequences of an investigation and/or prosecution by the U.S. Government.”

For additional information on the news that is the subject of this release, contact Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group at 202-270-7273 or visit us at http://www.thorntaxlaw.com/.

About Thorn Law Group, PLLC: Thorn Law Group, PLLC is a law firm dedicated to helping clients resolve complicated tax, criminal tax, and international tax problems.

Contact:
Kevin E. Thorn
Managing Partner Thorn Law Group, PLLC
202-270-7273
http://www.thorntaxlaw.com/

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