Switzerland transfers millions to UK and Austria under new agreements


By Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.

Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration announced Thursday that it transferred almost CHF 900 million ($968 million) to UK and Austrian tax authorities under the terms of Switzerland’s new bilateral tax withholding agreements with those countries. Switzerland also disclosed about CHF 12 billion ($12.9 billion) in assets.

The transfers and disclosures are the first in a series of transfers Switzerland is obliged to make to settle disputes over the taxation of British and Austrian residents with Swiss bank accounts. The transfer of withheld tax to the United Kingdom amounted to £258.3 million ($397.4 million). The transfer to Austria was €416.7 million ($548.3 million).

The withholding agreements allow British and Austrian account holders to maintain their anonymity while still fulfilling their tax obligations. In lieu of withholding, the account holders can disclose the existence of their accounts to their home countries’ tax authorities. The Federal Tax Administration has recorded almost 15,000 such declarations for the UK and almost 14,000 for Austria.

The withholding agreements went into effect January 1st 2013.

Alistair Nevius (anevius@aicpa.org) is editor-in-chief, tax for CGMA Magazine.

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