Swiss Cantonal Banks And Private Banks Making Voluntary Disclosure To IRS: Time Is Running Out For Taxpayers To Make Voluntary Disclosure Of Offshore Accounts

Posted in Press Releases on January 23, 2014 | Share

Kevin Thorn, the Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group discusses the impact on U.S. taxpayers with Swiss bank accounts caused by the recent commitment of many Swiss cantonal banks to disclose account information to the IRS: cautions the window of opportunity for U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts to take advantage of the IRS Voluntary Disclosure program may be closing rapidly.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 23, 2014 - As of the December 31 deadline, numerous Swiss cantonal and private banks announced their agreement to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice’s voluntary disclosure program for banks. Among the banks who publicly announced their decision to participate are: Aargauische Kantonalbank, Bank am Bellevue. Bank Coop, Banque Cantonale Vaudois, Banque Cantonale de Genève, Banque cantonale du Jura, Banque Privee Edmond de Rothschild, Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank, Berner Kantonalbank, EFG International AG, Graubündner Kantonalbank, Hyposwiss Privatbank Zurich AG, Hyposwiss Private Bank Geneve SA, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Linth Bank, Luzerner Kantonalbank, Migros Bank, Nidwaldner Kantonalbank, Piguet Galland & Cie SA, Post Finance, St. Galler Kantonalbank, Union Bancaire Privee, Valiant Holding AG, Vontobel Holding AG, Walliser Kantonalbank and Zuger Kantonalbank. [“Factbox: Swiss Banks and the U.S. Tax Crackdown,” Reuters, December 20, 2013, at] In addition, many of Switzerland’s private banks are believed to be participating, however, due to Swiss regulations, certain private banks are not required to publicly disclose such decisions.

Among the requirements for a Swiss bank’s voluntary disclosure to be accepted by the DOJ, the bank must disclose within 120 days – or by April 30, 2013 – the names of accountholders, account balance information, and detailed financial information on all accounts in which any U.S. taxpayer has any kind of interest. Additionally, the Swiss banks must disclose to the U.S. the names of all professionals, including any relationship manager, client advisor, asset manager, financial advisor, trustee, fiduciary, nominee, attorney, accountant, or any such similar individual, affiliated with each account. In exchange for making a voluntary disclosure, the IRS and DOJ will agree not to prosecute the banks – a move that could prove fatal to the Swiss banks.

The U.S. Treasury has now signed FATCA intergovernmental agreements with many countries around the world including Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and the People’s Republic of China. The IRS is closing in on U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed overseas accounts in banks in these countries.

Kevin E. Thorn, of the Thorn Law Group represents numerous U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed offshore bank accounts located around the world. Thorn states, “The disclosures by the Swiss banks will provide the IRS and DOJ with a treasure trove of information to identify, investigate and prosecute U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts.” He notes that the requirement to identify bank officials and professional advisors may well lead to banks and accounts outside of Switzerland, particularly if the professionals disclose their knowledge of accountholders transferring assets out of Swiss banks once word of the U.S. investigation into the Swiss banking industry became public.

Thorn cautions that U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts, particularly in Switzerland any time over the past eight years, should come into compliance with the IRS immediately. He advises taxpayers to enter the IRS Voluntary Disclosure program to resolve their matters, emphasizing that the penalty for not disclosing offshore accounts can be draconian. “Swiss banks are making voluntary disclosures, and so should taxpayers. Once the IRS and DOJ obtain the identities of accountholders from the Swiss banks, they will likely not allow those accountholders to enter into the IRS Voluntary Disclosure program.” He adds that “compliance may be more difficult and more costly for taxpayers who do not come forward before the banks identify them to the IRS and DOJ,” and notes that “the IRS and the DOJ will continue to put pressure on all foreign banks in order to obtain American Taxpayer information and bring those who have undisclosed overseas bank accounts back into compliance."

Thorn also notes that many Swiss banks are sending letters to accountholders informing them of the bank’s decision to participate in the voluntary disclosure program and advising them to do the same. Says Thorn, “If your bank sends you a letter advising you to enter the IRS Voluntary Disclosure program, consider it a warning that they are going to turn you in to the DOJ and IRS very soon.”

The bank voluntary disclosure program is only available to Swiss banks not already under investigation by the U.S. In addition to Swiss banks making voluntary disclosures, the U.S. is currently investigating 14 Swiss banks, including Basler Kantonalbank, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, Pictet & Cie, HSBC Privatbank, Bank Leumi and Zürcher Kantonalbank.

For additional information on the news that is the subject of this release, contact Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group at 202-270-7273 or visit us at

About Thorn Law Group, PLLC: Thorn Law Group, PLLC is a law firm dedicated to helping clients resolve complicated tax, criminal tax, and international tax problems.

Kevin E. Thorn
Managing Partner Thorn Law Group, PLLC

Thorn Law Group

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