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Japanese and Swiss Banks to Agree on FATCA Compliance Method
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Japanese and Swiss Banks to Agree on FATCA Compliance Method

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Japanese and Swiss Banks to Agree on FATCA Compliance Method

The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday it reached agreements with Japan and Switzerland to work on a deal to make it easier for banks in those countries to comply with a U.S. law targeting those avoiding taxes by stashing money in foreign accounts.

Thursday’s joint statements (pdf) aim at finding another alternative method of compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

The 388-page proposed rule, which a senior Treasury official said Thursday should be finalized by the fall, gives a graduated road map for full compliance with FATCA, culminating in 2017 when foreign financial institutions would be required to report not just on the value of an account but its gross proceeds. Institutions that don’t comply face a 30% tax penalty under the statute.

The framework agreed to Thursday would allow banks in Japan and Switzerland to report directly to the Internal Revenue Service. A previous deal with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. called for financial institutions to report to their local governments, which in turn would automatically send the information to the IRS.

Treasury said the two deals could serve as alternative models for compliance that other countries could consider.

“The intergovernmental framework announced today provides a second model for implementing FATCA in a way that addresses domestic legal impediments and reduces burdens on financial institutions,” said Emily McMahon, acting assistant secretary of Treasury for tax policy, in a statement.

The Swiss Banking Association, the country’s bank lobby, said it welcomed the start of negotiations between the two countries on implementing FATCA.

Switzerland’s finance ministry said the declarations signed Thursday accommodate the needs of both countries, but that there are some outstanding details that need to be worked out.

Among them is a way to deal with tax issues of the past. The Swiss government, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report, has for months been trying to negotiate a settlement covering all Swiss banks that may have helped Americans evade taxes.

Switzerland’s finance ministry said it hopes to reach a settlement by the end of the year. In the meantime, the U.S. has started to target individual banks, probing alleged assistance in helping Americans evade taxes, according to the Newswires report.

Tony Wicks, director of anti-money laundering solutions for NICE Actimize, said in an email to Corruption Currents the agreements with the Swiss and Japanese could be the “tipping point that will bring a flood of countries into line” ahead of the final regulations.

“It’s another indication for institutions with their heads in the sand that FATCA is here to stay,” said Wicks. “They need to be making sure that they are in a position to meet the 2013 deadlines or else create negative customer impacts, face reputational damage or lose competitive edge in international markets.”

Moreover, Wicks said that it’s significant the Swiss are on board given their reputation for banking secrecy. It could open the door slightly wider toward a global tax compliance act, he said.

“Are we likely to start seeing Swiss institutions advertising FATCA compliance to attract and retain high-value customers? Perhaps not yet, but I think it will come,” Wicks said.

Treasury Gets Japanese and Swiss Banks to Agree on FATCA Compliance Method - Corruption Currents - WSJ

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