Italian Tax Authorities Request Information From Switzerland On UBS Bank Customers

Author:Mr Peter R. Altenburger, Niccolò Figundio and Sebastiano Garufi
Profession:Altenburger Ltd legal + tax

In the official Swiss Journal ("Bundesblatt") no. 31 dated 6 August 2019, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration ("FTA") published a request for administrative assistance issued by the Italian Agenzia delle Entrate ("AdE") on 6 December 2018. The request concerns an undefined number of accounts held by Italian residents at UBS Switzerland AG ("UBS") between February 23, 2015 and December 31, 2016.

The anonymous notice published by the FTA is based on Art. 14a para. 4 of the Federal Act on International Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters ("TAAA") and concerns group requests. Such requests target numerous persons who can be identified on the basis of a common pattern of behavior. The purpose of the publication in the official Swiss Journal is to give to persons concerned the possibility to object to the disclosure of details on their personal account and receive a final decree ("Schlussverfügung") from the FTA instead, based on which they can then engage in administrative and court proceedings to prevent the envisaged administrative assistance.

Administrative Assistance provided by Switzerland

In the past ten years, Switzerland has undertaken significant efforts to combat international tax fraud and tax evasion and to fight for the strict observance of foreign tax laws. In order to do so, a number of tax laws were enacted, allowing Switzerland to comply with international standards issued by the OECD (acting on behalf of the G20). In this respect, Switzerland ratified the Multilateral Convention on Administrative Assistance originally issued by the CoE and the OECD in 1988 and amended in 2011 ("OECD MC"), and it renegotiated numerous Double Taxation Conventions ("DTC"), amongst them also the DTC with Italy, in order to comply with the international standard introduced by the OECD MC in the version of July 2010.

In addition to the already referred to TAAA, Switzerland:

- ratified the OECD's Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement/Common Reporting Standard (MCAA/CRS) dated October 29, 2014;

- released a federal law on the automatic exchange of information, dated December 18, 2015 (AEOI Law);

- activated the AEOI standards of the MCAA/CRS with more than 80 countries; and

- issued domestic guidelines on the AEOI dated February January 23, 2019.

Exchange of Information on Request

The key element for an exchange of information on request based on Art. 26 OECD MC (or the respective DTC provision) and the TAAA is that the information...

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