US and Switzerland agree to new tax treaty

The United States and Switzerland have agreed in principle on a new double-taxation accord, though the treaty's contents are being kept confidential.

This content was published on June 19, 2009 - 15:16

The Swiss finance ministry announced on Friday that the two sides initialed a new agreement after a second round of negotiations in Washington, which lasted three days.

The treaty, in general terms, will "permit an exchange of information on tax matters in individual cases where a specific and justified request has been made", the ministry said in a statement.

The intent of the accord is to loosen Switzerland's banking secrecy laws, to bring them in line with international standards set by the Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The agreement will be made public once it has been signed at the ministerial level in both countries.

Cantonal authorities and business associations, however, have access to the text in a summary report.

The accord can only enter into force after it is approved by the Swiss parliament. That could prove difficult without a political solution concerning a lawsuit that US authorities have filed in a Miami court against Swiss bank UBS.

The US Internal Revenue Service wants UBS to hand over the names of around 52,000 of the big bank's clients. Swiss authorities have maintained that doing so would violate domestic law.

The US is the sixth country with which Switzerland has initialed a revised double-taxation treaty.

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