Reactions vary to Swiss-UK tax deal

SwitzerlandA tax deal agreed between Switzerland and the UK has elicited varying reactions.

The deal, announced this week, will see the Swiss taxing bank accounts of UK taxpayers and passing this money to HMRC, the British tax authority. Subject to ratification into Swiss law, it should come into effect in May 2013.

Simon Airey, director of national tax investigations at law firm DLA Piper, said: “It will strengthen Switzerland’s standing as an international financial centre and effectively signals the demise of banking secrecy as a mean of concealing tax evasion.”

Some have argued that the delay in implementing the new deal means that tax dodgers have time to relocate their assets to a different tax haven though Airey said that “HMRC will obtain certain information about the destination of assets that are transferred out of Switzerland so closing accounts in order to avoid the levy is not a risk-free option.”

The logistics of the deal could present “an operational headache” to businesses that fall within its scope, according to Glen Millar, head of global professional services firm Kinetic Partners’ Swiss operations.

He added: “Swiss based private banks will also need to plan for the impact of this agreement and consider how it will affect business strategy in the future.”

©2011 funds europe