London, Aug 25: The Swiss government has agreed to tax black money held by UK citizens in Swiss bank accounts for the first time, while still hiding their identity.
According to a BBC report, the deal could see between 3 billion pounds and 6 billion pounds a year being handed to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) by the Swiss authorities.
The agreement is a part of the HMRC’s latest efforts to track down and tax money hidden in offshore bank accounts. It follows a similar deal agreed earlier this month between Germany and the Swiss authorities. UK officials said the agreement was a landmark one.
“The world has changed for tax evaders,” said Dave Hartnett of HMRC.
“A few years ago, nobody would have anticipated that we would conclude an agreement with Switzerland to tackle tax evasion. We will secure significant sums of tax that some had thought we would never see,” he added.
Meanwhile, David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said, “The historic agreement will enable us to collect billions of pounds from those who have for too long evaded their responsibility to pay UK tax by abusing Swiss banking secrecy.”
For decades, Swiss banking laws have provided complete secrecy to foreigners operating bank accounts there.
The account holders have been able to use the accounts to hide money from the own tax authorities, without even having to pay any Swiss tax.
From 2013, the Swiss will tax the bank accounts of UK citizens and transfer the money directly to the Treasury, but without revealing the identity of the account holders.