In the earlier days, Swiss banks were legally forbidden to disclose account holders’ personal data. This was the reason banks in Switzerland were a draw for HNWIs from all over the world. Is the confidentiality tradition still alive in Switzerland in 2023? Do Swiss banks share tax info with the EU member states at present?
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Just like many other states, including, inter alia, EU member countries, Switzerland is a signatory to the agreement that allows sharing information on residents’ income and assets otherwise known as CRS (common reporting standard). Hence, it is no longer an option to evade taxes by hiding your assets in Swiss banks.
Swiss banks have been automatically sharing bank customer info with the EU member states since 2018
It was 5 years ago that G20 and OECD member states obliged to implement the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). The purpose was to regulate information sharing on depository accounts and funds foreigners held with banks (AEOI) in order to secure tax transparency and fight money laundering.
In 2018, bank and tax institutions of Switzerland and the EU started automatically sharing tax information between them. At the moment, Switzerland has AEOI treaty obligations to over 100 jurisdictions worldwide.
Although lots of governments were successful in securing tax transparency and disclosing the personal data of account holders with accounts in foreign banks, the AEOI implementation resulted in multiple losses for Switzerland. In particular, Switzerland lost its bank secrecy appeal for foreign customers.
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What does Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) imply?
The AEOI standard is used to govern information exchange on non-resident bank accounts between AEOI member states.
Say, the main tax authority in Switzerland gathers information about Germans with Swiss bank accounts and shares it with the Finanzamt, a.k.a. the German tax administration. The same happens to the information about bank accounts held by the Swiss in Germany and the other AEOI member states. Information shared includes the following data as to bank customers that may be either natural or legal persons:
- full name
- residential address
- taxpayer identification number
- beneficiaries (for legal persons)
- account number
- account activity in the reporting period
- account balance.
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Is bank secrecy still a reality in Switzerland?
These are only Swiss tax residents with no dual citizenship who can enjoy bank secrecy and confidentiality as Swiss bank customers. This means that banks in Switzerland are not obliged to disclose the personal data of their customers who are Swiss nationals to any foreign institutions.
Foreigners, however, can no longer benefit from bank secrecy in Switzerland. This is explained by the fact that like other member states including the EU, the jurisdiction has become a signatory to the CRS agreement. Consequently, Swiss banks shall now share any info on foreign customer accounts, transactions, and balances thereon with the corresponding tax authorities of the states whose citizens hold the Swiss bank accounts in question. In some cases, Swiss banks may be not particularly cooperative where bank account opening for foreign customers is concerned.
You should keep in mind that in most countries including the EU local laws oblige taxpayers to inform the corresponding tax authorities if they set up any bank accounts abroad.
For any further information as to international tax planning and setting up bank accounts abroad, you are welcome to message the International Wealth industry profs who will eagerly assist you with any tricky issues.
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