Swiss Agree to Provide Information to U.S. Tax Authorities on HSBC Accounts

July 28, 2016, Insights

Swiss franc

Switzerland said it plans to give information to U.S. tax authorities about accounts at HSBC’s private bank as part of a U.S. investigation into tax evasion. HSBC’s Swiss branch has already paid tens of millions of dollars in fines after admitting to substandard compliance on tax evasion.

The information released by HSBC will include data on non-U.S. assets for U.S. persons. This information will then be used by the government to go after U.S. taxpayers for penalty purposes.

The Swiss government will give HSBC account holders the opportunity to appeal the decision, if they object to having their information passed to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Clients have 30 days to officially launch an appeal, which will be handled by Swiss court.

According to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration, the IRS is targeting HSBC accounts “where there is evidence the US beneficial owner exercised control, directly or indirectly, over the account in violation of corporate governance … by withdrawing funds from the account for personal use.”

“Following an information request in April 2016 from US authorities to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA), the bank has provided certain files, mostly related to former clients, to the SFTA,” said Lonnie Frisby, a spokeswoman for HSBC’s Swiss private bank.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating Britain-based HSBC over its Swiss branch’s role in helping wealthy U.S. citizens evade taxes.

No account holders were named in the Swiss notice. The notice indicated the IRS was seeking information on accounts in excess of $50,000 where there were discrepancies on tax forms.