Swiss offshore bank accounts
The UK and Switzerland signed a landmark tax agreement which introduced enormous changes to the taxation of offshore bank accounts in Switzerland. The changes came into effect on 1 January 2013. Under the agreement, UK taxpayers had two options. The first option was to make a full disclosure of their existing banking relationships in Switzerland and pay any outstanding taxes, interest and penalties. Under this option the taxpayer provided authorisation for disclosure of their Swiss assets to the Swiss tax authorities for onward submission to HMRC.
The second option was to make a one-off tax payment deduction to settle past tax liabilities. The one-off charge was to be in the range of between 21% and 41%. The deadline for this option ended in May 2013.
HMRC have now started writing to taxpayers that have opted to agree to the release of information of a beneficial interest in Swiss assets or investments rather than to make a one-off tax payment. HMRC have given the Chartered Institute of Taxation permission to publish a sample of the letter sent to affected taxpayers. HMRC have also confirmed that agents will not receive a copy of this letter. Any taxpayers that receive this, or a similar letter from HMRC, should contact their tax adviser as soon as possible.