On May 29, 2013, Switzerland announced that it reached an agreement with US negotiators regarding US Department of Justice (DOJ) and IRS investigations of multiple Swiss banks alleged to have facilitated US tax fraud by providing “secret” bank accounts used by US taxpayers to hide assets and income from the IRS. The agreement is further evidence of the erosion of Swiss banking secrecy, and the power of the US Government to obtain information regarding undeclared foreign bank accounts owned by US taxpayers. It is anticipated that many such account owners will now be rushing to voluntarily disclose their offshore accounts to the IRS before the foreign banks reveal their identities and bank data to DOJ and the IRS. In addition to racing to the IRS before the banks reveal the information, US taxpayers must also keep in mind that the IRS can terminate the current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) at any time. In addition, the IRS can also announce, at any time, that US clients of a certain bank or banks under investigation are no longer eligible to enter the OVDP. If US taxpayers with undeclared foreign assets are ineligible to make a voluntary disclosure, the taxpayers will likely face IRS audit, investigation and charges of criminal tax fraud.
Asher’s comments appear in the following media, and are translated below.
Tax dispute – U.S. Reactions to the Tax Dispute-Deal
Banking Secrecy is Over
by Roman Elsener, SDA
In the U.S., the Swiss tax law template for solving the dispute is seen by experts as the end of banking secrecy. In the media, this view is shared.
The New York Times calls the template a turning point in the previously escalated conflict between Switzerland and the U.S. The CNN headline on Wednesday: “Switzerland Lifts Bank Secrecy.”
Asher Rubinstein, a tax attorney in New York, who advises U.S. clients with Swiss accounts, is convinced that banking secrecy is over. “The resolution of banking secrecy is not new, it has been running for five years,” Rubinstein told the SDA on Wednesday in New York.
“New World Order”
American tax evaders have to be aware of “a new world order” under which the IRS can identify their account data. Not only in Switzerland, international tax cooperation steadily strides ahead.
Rubinstein says in the interview with the SDA that tax authorities have the opportunity to end the voluntary disclosure program for repentant tax sinners towards certain banks, as the U.S. Justice can get the banks themselves to provide the data in the future.
“U.S. customers can not wait until their bank is sued and then decide to pursue a voluntary disclosure. The door to come to terms with the tax authorities will close for these customers,” says Rubinstein.