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Have you got a swiss bank account?

To all UK residents with a Swiss bank account

Due to the UK Swiss agreement, Swiss banks are going to deduct a withholding tax (WHT) of between 21–41% on the balance in Swiss bank accounts owned by UK residents, on 31 May 2013. 

Furthermore, as from 1 January 2013, all interest earned by such accounts is going to suffer a 48%  WHT, dividends received are going to suffer WHT of 40% and capital gains a WHT of 27%. Also when the holder of the account dies there is going to be a further WHT of 40%.

The alternative to all this is for the account holder to authorise the bank to disclose the details of the account and its holder to HMRC. 

For tax compliant individuals that is not a problem. But for individuals who have not paid the tax due to HMRC on their Swiss bank accounts – this will lead to an HMRC investigation.

For the non compliant, the best advice is either a) close the Swiss bank account before 31 May 2013 (not just withdraw all the funds) and move everything elsewhere, or b) make use of the Lichtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF). The problem with option a) is that it is not so easy to apply in practice – for one reason, the number of tax havens is becoming dramatically smaller.  

The LDF enables the individual to make a full disclosure to HMRC, and consequently pay any tax due to HMRC from 1999 onwards, together with interest due on that tax. The penalty is a mere 10% on the unpaid tax until 2009, and 20% thereafter. Once the individual has gone through the LDF procedure all the remaining funds are completely cleared, it is a complete amnesty that sweeps away all previous tax misdemeanours. 

UK resident Swiss bank account holders need to make a decision and act now – or else automatically the WHT regime will start to apply.

This article has been provided by Arthur Weller, and you can discuss options to help you move forward by using his Tax Advice and Consultancy service.