According to press reports Credit Suisse, Basler Kantonalbank, Julius Baer, HSBC Switzerland and seven other Swiss banks are poised to turnover data related to U.S. persons suspected of tax evasion or Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) violations. The story was published on December 18th in SonntagsZeitung, a Swiss newspaper. Supposedly the banks had until Dec. 20th to accept the offer, and that three of the banks have been given until Dec. 31st to turn over the information. Those Swiss banks who accept the deal would be assured immunity from criminal prosecution, and would pay a fine. According to “one insider” the banks are unlikely to turn down the deal.
Since there has been no confirmation from either the Swiss banks or the IRS it is unclear whether the story is true. The deadlines don’t seem realistic, however. In the view of our tax attorneys it would be unlikely that the Swiss banks could comply with turning over documents that quickly, and there would have to be notification of the clients, and an opportunity to appeal if past experience with the UBS settlement is any guide.
Still it is a reminder that in all likelihood that at least the larger Swiss banks will be turning over the names of their U.S. account holders to the IRS sometime in the not too distant future. Those U.S. persons who still have undisclosed Swiss bank accounts, or for that matter any offshore financial accounts would do well to consider whether to make a voluntary disclosure before the choice is made for them.
If you are trying to decide what to do about your offshore financial accounts call the tax litigation attorneys at Brager Tax Law Group, A P.C. for a confidential consultation.