US orders Swiss banks to disclose non-compliant FATCA accounts

US orders Swiss banks to disclose non-compliant FATCA accounts

The US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is forcing banks in Switzerland to disclose full details of client accounts that have not be previously reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

FATCA, which was introduced internationally in 2010, compels foreign banks to disclose details of assets and funds held by US citizens.

According to reports, 12 Swiss-based banks and fiduciary firms have received group administrative assistance requests via the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA).

The IRS is requesting details of American clients' accounts, with account holders required to update the SFTA with their Swiss residential address.

In the past, Switzerland did not cooperate with such requests from the US tax authorities. The SFTA is now working to a deadline of 20 December for either contesting or fulfilling the disclosure requests to the 12 financial institutions listed by the IRS.

The banks involved include Barclays (Suisse), Indosuez, Crédit Agricole, Union Bancaire Privée, Schroder and Co, and Bank Vontobel.

The requests under FATCA relate to private bank accounts that have been identified as American-owned, or financial institutions to which foreign transfers had been paid, but for which such transactions were not given consent for reporting to the IRS.

The SFTA said in a statement: "The specified US persons and non-participating financial institutions concerned by one or more of these group requests, as well as any other parties to the account relationships concerned, may submit their opinion on the intended transmission of their data to the IRS within 20 days after publication of this notification. The same applies to the legal successors of any deceased contracting parties to the account relationships concerned."

"The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) will issue a final decree for each account relationship concerned by a group request. If the delivery of the final decree is requested, the persons mentioned are required to provide the FTA with their Swiss address if they are domiciled in Switzerland, or to designate a person in Switzerland authorised to receive service if they are domiciled abroad."

"Legal successors of deceased contracting parties to the account relationships concerned must also submit a certificate of inheritance to the FTA."

The statement went on: "If a person entitled to appeal does not consent to the simplified procedure, and has not notified the FTA of a Swiss address or a person in Switzerland authorised to receive service, the FTA notifies the final decree on an anonymous basis by a publication in the Federal Gazette and on its website."

Subscribe to International Investment's free daily newsletter


Author spotlight

Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.