UBS AG has formally warned wealthy American clients that their secret Swiss accounts may be revealed to U.S. tax authorities after next Wednesday’s expiration of a U.S. amnesty program.
A UBS letter obtained by Reuters tells clients their accounts fall under a deal signed in August that ended a long-running dispute with the U.S. government over off-shore assets of U.S. clients.
The letter lands in the mailboxes of rich Americans as they decide whether to participate in the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s amnesty program — a chance to reveal income in tax havens such as Switzerland, Cayman Islands and Monaco while generally avoiding prosecution.
Lawyers said the UBS letters have been received by a cross section of clients — even those with relatively modest assets of under $1 million.
“Everybody who was coming to my office last week, said ‘it’s not going to be me,’” said Bryan Skarlatos, a tax lawyer at Kostelanetz & Fink in New York.
In exchange for coming clean by the September 23 deadline, individuals pay back taxes and a reduced fine, while generally avoiding criminal charges.
After months of tortuous negotiations that involved the Swiss government and challenged the country’s tradition of banking secrecy, UBS agreed in August to disclose the names of 4,450 American holders of secret accounts at UBS.
The letter obtained by Reuters said the IRS is seeking information about those with direct accounts at UBS in Switzerland and those who owned accounts indirectly through an off-shore company. The letter was dated September 10.
William Sharp, an attorney at Sharp Kemm in Tampa, Florida, who represents American clients of UBS and was in Switzerland this week, said UBS transferred the first 500 files to Swiss authorities on September 11.
Way to cave in Switzerland. King America reaches out across the sea and claims the property of its slaves. Some background:
Banking in Switzerland is characterised by stability, privacy and protection of clients’ assets and information. The country’s tradition of bank secrecy, which dates to the Middle Ages, was first codified in a 1934 law.
Swiss neutrality and national sovereignty, long recognized by foreign nations, have fostered a stable environment in which the banking sector was able to develop and thrive. Switzerland has maintained neutrality through both World Wars, is not a member of the European Union, and was not even a member of the United Nations until 2002.
The taxes on $5.7 trillion dollars will be significant. Now the US government can afford to invade some more countries, to curtail liberties, spy on Americans more and put even more Americans in prisons.
I don’t know where most of that $5.7 trillion comes from, but as far as people working and having their pay go straight into a Swiss account, my feeling is that you should be able to do this. As a free person, you own your labor. All of it. This is why income taxes is wrong. I pay, but under protest. No one should be able to tax your income unless you are a slave. Slavery is illegal and income taxes should be a well.