Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Swiss Change Rules for Notifying U.S. Taxpayers of U.S. Treaty Requests and Swiss Response (12/17/14; 12/18/14)

Caplin & Drysdale, a major player in the offshore account saga, has this new posting, titled "Switzerland Narrows Advance Notice to Account Holders of Treaty Requests: Americans with Unreported Accounts Impacted," here.  I encourage readers having an interest in the issue to read the entire posting, but here is a bottom-line for those U.S. taxpayers still not making affirmative choices about their otherwise unreported Swiss accounts:
Americans can no longer count on being warned beforehand that information about a Swiss account might be provided to the IRS or the U.S. Justice Department ("DOJ").  By the time notice is given, it may well be too late for the account holder to make a voluntary disclosure. 
The article notes that, pursuant to the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks the DOJ and, of course, the IRS will be receiving aggregate data from the banks that will permit "group" requests -- I call them John Doe requests because they function like John Doe summons and subpoenas -- to be made under the exchange of information provision of the double tax treaty, with the Swiss competent authority and the banks then being required to identify the taxpayers within the group (scope of the characteristics in the request).

Thanks to Caplin & Drysdale for reporting this development.

Addendum 12/18/14 12:26 AM:

Hugo Miller, Switzerland Fissures as Account Secrecy Loses Charm, Bloomberg News (12/16/14), here.

Now, a bill winding its way through Swiss parliament is set to curtail the court’s authority and make it harder for suspected financial criminals to hide behind secrecy rules. The Financial Market Infrastructure Act will waive the requirement for Finma, the Swiss finance regulator, to pre-inform bank clients that data on them has been shared with a foreign regulator if doing that could compromise the outcome of the investigation. Endorsed by the Swiss government, the act will be voted on next year. 
“The big debate is how far you go to protect individuals when states are working together on an investigation and to what extent do you not inform those individuals,” Daniel Zuberbuehler, a former vice-chairman of Finma and chief executive officer of the Swiss federal banking commission, said in a telephone interview. “Given the spate of new treaties to share data internationally, this client procedure should be abolished.”
It is a bit late at night for me, so I may not be focusing closely.  But the two items above may be referring to the same thing.  The Bloomberg article says that the bill is winding its way through the legislature and will be voted on next year.

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