Revised tax treaty aiming to get official access to Swiss bank accounts
Treasury is taking submissions on a revised tax treaty with Switzerland, which will lead to Swiss banks handing over secretive bank account information to Australian authorities on request.
The new treaty means Australian tax evaders with undisclosed Swiss bank accounts will now rely on limited bank secrecy protection from the European nation, notorious for its status as a tax haven.
The Australian Tax Office will seek details of secret bank accounts through an exchange of information clause introduced in the treaty, which is being changed for the first time since it was signed in 1980.
The new treaty is limited in that it does not provide for automatic exchange of information, which has been endorsed by the OECD as the new standard.
This means officials cannot trawl for potential evaders but only ask for specific accounts.
It won’t apply to tax evaders whose accounts are already closed.
According to the ATO, about $41 billion moved between Australia and Switzerland last financial year, with the average transaction worth just under a quarter of a million dollars.
Data shows Switzerland was the top source of revenue for Australian companies in 2012, at $35.6 billion, with Singapore second at $12.3 billion.
Treasury is calling on all interested parties to make a submission on the draft by June 18.
”The revised treaty aims to align the bilateral tax arrangements more closely with current Australian and international treaty policy settings,” a statement said.
The treaty will be enacted after both countries complete their respective domestic requirements.