Senate approves US double taxation measures

United States authorities may be granted assistance on alleged tax evasion without providing personal details of suspects under measures agreed by the Senate.

This content was published on December 13, 2011 - 12:12 and agencies

The Senate vote on Tuesday was in line with the government’s position on the issue. It voted 27 to five for the inclusion of the measures in an already existing double taxation agreement with the US.

Under the amendment, US authorities would not have to provide a name or address of citizens suspected of hiding their assets in Swiss banks to avoid paying tax.

Instead, it will be sufficient to provide evidence of a “pattern of behaviour” on the part of the bank or its associates for information about the client to be provided. If the bank has done nothing wrong or been “passive”, a name or address will still be needed.

Addressing the Senate before the vote, Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the US was a “special case” and assured that any “fishing expeditions” for information would not be allowed under the new agreement. She said the measures would be retrospective until 2009.

The add-on to the current agreement should help towards finding a solution in the latest tax spat between Switzerland and the US, in which several Swiss banks are being threatened with litigation in the US.

The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the issue.

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