Posts Tagged ‘OECD’
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Reacting to criticism that it has not done enough to assist international tax authorities in combating tax fraud, the Swiss Finance Ministry said on Tuesday that it will provide information on bank account holders if foreign tax authorities provide a bank account number, social security number, or other information. Prior to the announcement, Switzerland had required the bank account details, as well as the name and address of the individual, often halting investigations in their initial stages.
Switzerland made the change because it concluded that it would not pass an ongoing review by a tax forum organized under the umbrella of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). If it didn’t pass the current peer review, it risked sanctions by the Group of 20 countries.
Tax agencies often have bank account information because they see movements of money, but do not have the account holder’s name. In some cases, the Swiss demanded the name of the so-called beneficial owner, or the individual behind a trust or an offshore entity that were the titular account holders. Now, the Swiss will help if a foreign country provides a reasonable amount of information to track down an account.
Switzerland’s actions come as the international community seeks to crack down on tax evaders to fill depleted public coffers. “This sends a strong signal that Switzerland is no longer in the business of facilitating offshore tax evasion,” said Jeffrey Owens, director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD.