Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hunting down tax cheats in Switzerland gets easier

Switzerland has taken steps towards improving cooperation with countries seeking to pursue tax evaders hiding funds in the country.

Before the change in policy, which will take effect following Parliament’s approval, countries seeking information on tax evaders could receive administrative assistance from the Swiss government only with the full name and address of the parties of interest; the new policy will allow governments to use more varied search methods and provide less complete information.

However, the Swiss Ministry has said that it will not allow for “fishing expeditions,” whereby a government might attempt to gain information on parties that are not reasonably suspected of any wrongdoing.

The policy change comes on the heels of increased pressure from the US government to pursue tax evaders in Switzerland and other countries, including a sustained inquiry into UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, which was recently completed.