Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg agreed to share secret banking information in cases of tax evasion on Friday. Basically, these havens are agreeing to the OECD standards on financial information sharing. Of course, this is not an open season on the bank and financial information. These countries will consider various requests from other countries for banking information on a case by case basis.
The IRS has information sharing agreements with many tax havens, or as they like to call themselves–offshore financial centers. None of the countries, however, automatically turn over bank or financial upon a request from the IRS. There is a lot more to the process and procedure. Using various laws and procedures, the person or business subject of the request can delay or stop the requests. When I was a trial attorney for the Office of Chief Counsel, IRS, International Division I was involved in many local countries court proceeding challenging the IRS request. Some challenges are successful.
Anyway, read the NY Times story on the recent Swiss agreement:
The Swiss government bowed to pressure on Friday and agreed to conform to international standards on exchanging information in suspected cases of tax evasion, but it maintained that its principle of banking secrecy was in tact.
Two other countries, Austria and Luxembourg, announced steps to fend off a global crackdown on tax evasion by offering concessions before a meeting of leaders from the Group of 20 nations in London at the start of next month.
Read the whole story Click Here NYT
In another story, the Cayman Islands “Leader of Government Business,” Kirk Tibbets, announced that he and others from the Caymans met with US Congress to brief new members about the Cayman’s laws, positions and cooperation in sharing information under various agreements:
Part of the press release said: “[Purpose] to brief new members of key House and Senate committees about the quality of Cayman’s regulatory and international cooperation regimes, with specific reference to our longstanding and effective arrangements with the United States, and to glean any available intelligence on the US position in relation to the April G20 Summit.
My colleagues and I covered, between us, 30 meetings over two days. The people we met were receptive to what we had to say and appeared to have no particular ‘anti-Cayman’ - or even ‘anti- offshore’ - agenda. That is not to say that there are not those members of Congress who do, but they do not appear to reflect the majority sentiment. What came through most forcefully was that the policy environment in Washington is very fluid at the moment, and most of people’s energies and attentions are, understandably, taken up with the US economy, budget and financial system.”
Read the whole press release: Click Here
No legal opinion here