Swiss Parliament Votes to Allow Disclosure of UBS Accounts

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In a blow to the Swiss tradition of banking secrecy, the Swiss Parliament voted today to allow UBS AG to carry out its agreement with the U.S. government. Under the terms of the agreement, UBS promised to disclose the identities of U.S. taxpayers with hidden accounts at the Swiss bank. In exchange, the U.S. government agreed to not prosecute UBS for its role in assisting U.S. tax evaders. UBS plans to disclose the names and account details of 4,450 accounts held by US citizens suspected of tax evasion.

Thorn Tax Law Group's Managing Partner Kevin Thorn

“Once the account information is turned over to the U.S., the opportunity to make a voluntary disclosure will be gone.”

In what is seen as a blow to the famous Swiss banking secrecy laws, the Swiss Parliament voted on Tuesday to effectively overturn the Swiss court’s ruling that was blocking UBS AG’s ability to carry out its agreement with the U.S. government. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to not prosecute UBS for its actions in assisting U.S. tax evaders so long as UBS disclosed the names and account details of 4,450 accounts held by U.S. citizens suspected of tax evasion.

Washington, D.C. Tax Attorney and Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group, Kevin E. Thorn, who represents many UBS clients, was not surprised at the passage, but cautions that “UBS is not out of the woods yet, and won’t be until all 4,500 UBS account holders subject to the agreement are disclosed.”

The Swiss tax authority reports that the account information of approximately 500 individuals who have submitted privacy waivers to UBS or the Swiss government has already been handed over to the U.S. authorities. Similarly, the Swiss government has already compiled the requested information on 2,900 more accounts for transfer once the UBS - U.S. agreement is approved, and it is currently processing the remaining 1,550 accounts covered by the agreement for transfer as well.

The agreement faces one final hurdle, however, as the two houses of the Swiss Parliament are still divided on whether the Swiss voters should have a voice in the issue through a referendum. If the upper house changes the position against referendum that it stated with its vote last week, the Swiss people will have 100 days to gather enough signatures to move the referendum process forward. The question of whether parliament will allow the referendum is expected to be resolved before the end of the session on Friday, June 18.

Thorn still urges taxpayers to come forward and utilize the IRS’ Voluntary Disclosure Program to avoid greater criminal and civil penalties. He further goes on to state that “such passage should be a wakeup call to all individuals who hold undisclosed foreign accounts,” and cautions that “once the account information is turned over to the U.S., the opportunity to make a voluntary disclosure will be gone.”

For additional information on the news that is the subject of this release, contact Kevin E. Thorn or visit http://www.thorntaxlaw.com.

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

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

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Kevin E. Thorn

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