Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Giving Up Names

Reuters: The decision today goes to the legal root of Switzerland's lack of cooperation with other countries -- the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion.

Under Swiss law, tax fraud is a criminal offence that involves forging documents to hide income from the tax man. Tax evasion, which is defined as not fully declaring one's income to the Swiss tax authorities, is an administrative offence, punishable with a fine only.

The key change is that Switzerland will now cooperate in cases of suspected tax evasion too, at least once double taxation agreements are renegotiated with other countries.

Previously, the world's biggest offshore center would only cooperate with foreign authorities when they could prove tax fraud, which has hindered U.S. access to client data of Switzerland's biggest bank UBS in a tax probe.

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