UBS Swiss Bank account owners who did not make a voluntary disclosure to the IRS last year breathed a sigh of relief when the lower house of the Swiss Parliament voted against amending the U.S. Swiss Tax Treaty to allow the handover of the names of U.S. holders of Swiss bank accounts who are suspected of tax evasion by the IRS. The story has more twists and turns than a John Grisham novel, most of which I have previously blogged about. To summarize briefly:
• A report by a disgruntled ex-employee of UBS led to the indictment of Bradley Birkenfeld a former UBS Swiss banker. Revelations by Birkenfeld led in turn to the indictment of UBS which paid 750 million dollars to the IRS to settle the criminal case. UBS turned over the names of 250 holders of offshore bank accounts.
• 150 of these UBS Swiss bank account owners are under active investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CI), and the tax attorneys at the Department of Justice
• Approximately 10 individuals (including some at banks other than UBS) have already pled guilty to various charges including the filing of false documents, failure to file an FBAR, and tax fraud
• The IRS filed a John Doe summons demanding from UBS the names of all its clients who were U.S. citizens or residents
• In high level diplomatic negotiations the case was settled with UBS agreeing to turnover the names of approximately 4,450 UBS Swiss bank account owners.
• A decision by a Swiss Court earlier this year ruled that certain accounts could not be turned over under Swiss law despite the agreement with the IRS
• On June 3rd the upper house of the Swiss Parliament ratified a Treaty amendment which would overturn the Swiss Court decision
Although the Swiss lower house refused to ratify the Treaty amendment things are not over yet. The Swiss lawmakers are expected to go back to the bargaining table to see if the issue can be resolved. Further developments are expected by June 18th—the end of the Swiss parliamentary session.
If you have an offshore financial account, whether it is a Swiss bank account, or an offshore account in another country call the tax litigation lawyers at Brager Tax Law Group, a P.C. to find out about your options.