Have You Disclosed Your Swiss Bank Account Yet?

From the L.A. Times:

Wealthy U.S. taxpayers, concerned about an Internal Revenue Service crackdown on the use of secret overseas bank accounts as tax havens, are rushing to meet a Thursday deadline to disclose those accounts or face possible criminal prosecution.

The concern was triggered this summer when Switzerland's largest bank, caught up in an international tax evasion dispute, said it would disclose the names of more than 4,000 of its U.S. account holders.

The decision shattered a long-held belief that Swiss banks would guard the identities of its American customers as carefully as they did their money, and it raised concern that other international tax havens might be next.

Under an amnesty program, the IRS is allowing taxpayers to avoid prosecution for having failed to report their overseas accounts. As a result, tax attorneys across the nation have been besieged by wealthy clients who are lining up to apply even though they will still face big financial penalties. [...]

"It's crazy busy," said Pasadena tax attorney Phil Hodgen, who for a brief period in September stopped accepting new clients because he was overwhelmed with amnesty requests. "These people are calling, saying, 'I can't sleep at night.' "

Some 3,000 U.S. residents have voluntarily disclosed their foreign bank accounts to the IRS this year, compared to fewer than 100 in 2008, said one U.S. government official who asked not to be identified.

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  • Attorney||

    Suddenly, Stepfather Bank doesn't seem so implausible anymore.

  • Xeones||

    Man, and i don't even have enough money for a domestic bank account.

  • Rich||

    Must I also disclose my accounts in Swaziland?

  • Xeones||

    What about this bank in Nigeria that is paying me to help them transfer some money? Do i have to disclose that?

  • ||

    Why, of course not! What sort of poppycock is this?

    Nevertheless, I must have my Hatian house-servant contact my Liberian accountants to make sure that my Swiss goodies are locked up tightly, away from the sticky fingers of Uncle Sam.

  • robc||

    I wonder how many of the 3000 switched their money from a named account to a numbered-only account before disclosing? "Why Yes, IRS, I have about 100k in an account in Switzerland, here is the 35k in taxes I owe. [Snicker]"

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Hatian? Cool. I've always wanted a servant from Lidsville.

  • T||

    Antigua and the Caymans are looking better and better all the time.

  • ||

    But taxes are completely voluntary. Why would anyone hide money from the poor and unwashed masses with a billion grasping hands?

  • ||

    No, paying taxes is patriotic. These people are traitors that hate America.

  • anonymous||

    Why not try for Swiss citizenship if they prefer Swiss taxes and banking? The US might disagree, but if they cut all ties then there's only so much the US can do.

  • matt||

    "Trying" for Swiss citizenship is hard.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_nationality_law

    They want you to have lived there for 12 years, know your region's language, and demonstrate knowledge of the culture. Some federal states add extra conditions, too.

    If getting Swiss citizenship was easy, everyone would have done it already.

  • ||

    everyone would have done it already

    And then Switzerland would be ruined, so whats the point. Or did you mean only us cool people?

  • Nate||

    If the IRS determines that you surrendered your US citizenship for tax resaons, they reserve the right to go after you anywhere in the world for the following 10 years.

    But yeah, taxes are totally voluntary.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Feh. First step is establishing a second (or third) identity with citizenship or residence on foreign soil. Emerging countries are the best places for this. Belize is a good first step!

    Then commingle funds in a trust with your other selves in the Caymans (best done by opening a "hedge fund" (don't worry you don't have to actually have the fund invest in anything)). Now withdraw some money from the fund in, say, the name of your Brazilian identity and wire the money to your Rio bank account.

    Presto! You have money offshore in another name and the IRS has no idea it's you!

    Putting money in Switzerland under your own name is so 1997.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Oh, and put that money in real property - a business, land, rental property or even local stocks or bonds. Cash bank balances are much easier for the authorities to figure out, but a nice apartment overlooking a beach being rented out is almost impossible to ferret out (especially since you will have it listed as "X holding" or whatever)

  • Ska||

    Just ask Charlie Rangel.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I keep my secret money hidden in a storage locker in Grand Central Station.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I keep my "bank account" in a soup can with some grass over it.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    And the proponents of big government will look at this, sniff, stick their noses in the air, and say "well, the IRS should do this sort of thing"...

  • norman||

    Even some proponents of smaller government and lower taxes don't like to see people get away with tax evasion.

  • Geotpf||

    All things being equal, the more people who cheat on their taxes, the higher taxes have to be to make up for that lost revenue.

  • Brian Lockwood||

    If taxes were lower, fewer people would go to such extreme lengths to avoid them.

  • ||

    I Kahn, you show a disturbing, yet fascinating, familiarity with money laundering.

    Any tips on how to establish that overseas identity?

  • John Tagliaferro||

    My stalker apparently found the secret to getting away with that sort of thing. Flee the country with your sig-o and then rat him out so you can come back into the country with a clean slate. Not sure how she was establishing all the different names she claimed to travel under.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Used to be you could buy a Belizean citizenship officially through the government!

    First find a local partner and invest in property (you can even just rent from someone - say an apartment in Leblon, Rio.) under an assumed name. Get a driver's/parking permit and some bills in your name. Fake passport made up in Mexico (or really wherever) tends to work well at local offices (never at airports etc) and will go a long way to get you established. The local bank account then is easy as you will have multiple ids. And you'll then easily obtain a credit card from which you get your paypal account set up. Skype for your phone!

    Pretty much you are all set. From there everything you do helps build on your new identity. For a time you will have to travel under your real name, but eventually with all of your documentation you can get a residency established and working or travel papers.

    To make the circle square, obtain a US birth certificate for someone who died in childbirth who would be near your age, from there use this and the overseas information to establish a credible story. Now you can really work out official docs.

    On the off chance you are of Irish ancestry (or can pass) get that birth certificate for someone with Irish grandparents on both sides since with that you can get Irish citizenship and an EU passport. There are on line resources that are useful on both legs of the transaction.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    BTW these make great "working" holidays.

  • Isaac Bartram||

    ...obtain a US birth certificate for someone who died in childbirth who would be near your age...

    This might have worked at one time but I'm not sure how you would handle the lack of a Social Security Number now.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    That's the point: dead infants never got a number. And you use the document abroad, not here, as an ID.

    If you show up with a fake passport or other official looking doc under that name and can produce the certificate (which you could fake as well, but this is better) you're in.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Thought you could apply for that at any time if you never had one. Should still work for people over 30.

  • Isaac Bartram||

    Sorry, for some reason I thought that there might be some questions asked if you didn't have one these days. But I suppose if you didn't use it with Federal Govt types who might ask questions I guess you're OK.

    That said, I didn't apply for a SSN until I was 21 but that was long before the whole issuing to infants thing. Just think, I had a draft card before I had a SSN. But then the draft card was a much bigger deal then.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    A draft card? Junior Johnson?

  • Isaac Bartram||

    As I said, this was in ancient times.

  • ||

    I like what the Brazilians call their version of the IRS, O Leão, "The Lion." It just seems to fit.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    The guy with the beard and tophat depicted in that mezzotint appears to be a well-to-do fellow about town.

  • smartass sob||

    Some 3,000 U.S. residents have voluntarily disclosed their foreign bank accounts to the IRS this year

    I wonder how many are Congressmen and/or other politicians?

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  • ||

    God wears UGG boots?

  • Kolohe||

    Just the Holy Ghost. Jesus has Birkenstocks and The Father wears Chuck Taylors.

  • Dello||

    Remember that any income your offshore company earns outside the country is US tax deferred until such time as you bring it into the US. That time can include never, as well as a very little at a time (to avoid excessive taxation). You can also take advantage of gifting money (up to $10,000/year, IIRC) to your kids and such.

    In a nutshell, there are still plenty of legal ways to minimize your tax burden.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Hmmm... A fake foreign relative (or many!) would be a great way to gift tens of thousands tax free every year. Genius!

  • T||

    Set up an offshore trust. Get a credit card that allows you to carry a debit balance on the card in the trust's name. Funnel the money through the trust, and use the credit card here in the states. Much simpler.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Yea, the feds will never notice that. Make sure you get it from a Central Asian bank too.

  • T||

    It's not what they notice, it's what they can prove. This method works, with a few minor caveats. The guy who explained it all to me still has the money sitting out there because the feds never did figure out what he did with the cash.

    Of course, he's still in jail for running the Ponzi scheme that got him all the money. But the feds didn't recover the money, so it does work.

  • Anonymous||

    This unfortunate incarceration is but a temporary setback. In the meantime, commissary snacks are on me, gentlemen!

  • Ayn R. Key||

    Why did Switzerland surrender? They stood up to the Nazis. They're the only country in Europe with a sane attitude towards gun control.

  • CTHORM@IBIS||

    It isn't so much that Switzerland is giving-in, it's that the Swiss BANKS are giving-in. What they were doing (not disclosing names of account holders) is perfectly legal under their own laws...they're being strong armed by the redistributionists in Washington.

  • ||

    Why don't the Swiss banks tell the U.S. to fuck off, and not lose all their customers? What recourse does the U.S. government have?

  • ||

    What if the Feds decided to charge a few Swiss bankers who happened to be in the US with embezzlement, just to get their point across.

    I'm pretty certain that the human rights NGO's would quietly look the other way, since it's just capitalists being arrested.

  • Kolohe||

    Making it practically impossible for UBS et al to do business in the USA

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