UBS To Rat Out Thousands Of Swiss Account Holders

Aggressive users of the Swiss bank account to create tax shelters creatively avoid taxes could be a bit nervous today.

The U.S. and Swiss governments and Swiss bank UBS AG have settled a long-running tax-evasion lawsuit.  Though details of the settlement were not made public, the expectation is that the bank will hand over to the IRS the names of thousands of Swiss bank account holders. 

The bank is relieved for the suit to be almost over (settlement papers are awaiting signatures), especially since it was closely related to a criminal inquiry that resulted in UBS paying $780 million and turning over 250 client names in order to avoid prosecution for helping clients evade taxes. 

Bloomberg:  “They made an agreement that will reconcile the IRS’s desire to get this information as quickly as possible and the Swiss desire to respect their own legal procedures and process,” said Scott Michel, a tax attorney at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, which represents UBS clients.

Thousands of UBS clients avoided prosecution by voluntarily disclosing their accounts to the IRS under a program that ends Sept. 23, tax lawyers said. The pace of future disclosures may hinge on the accord, according to lawyers for clients of UBS, the largest Swiss bank by assets…

Tax attorney Bryan Skarlatos said the case is likely to have wider implications beyond any settlement stipulation between UBS and the IRS.

“Underlying that stipulation will be a broad agreement between the United States and the Swiss government that could affect all U.S. taxpayers who kept money in Swiss banks,” said Skarlatos of Kostelanetz & Fink LLP in New York. The firm’s clients include some UBS account holders.

The U.S. sued UBS for the account data on Feb. 19, a day after the bank admitted that its Swiss private bankers helped wealthy Americans evade U.S. taxes from 2000 to 2007. It admitted setting up sham offshore companies in havens like the British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong and Panama.

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