Monday, December 08, 2008

Heads up to tax dodgers

US Treasury Announcement --

The Department of the Treasury today announced that the United States and Liechtenstein have signed an agreement to allow for exchange of information on tax matters between the two countries. The agreement was signed by U.S. Charge d'Affairs Leigh Carter and Liechtenstein Prime Minister Otmar Hasler in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

The Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with Liechtenstein will provide the United States with access to information it needs to enforce U.S. tax laws, including information related to bank accounts in Liechtenstein ... The TIEA will allow the United States to ask for information relating to 2009 and years following. Documents or other information created before 2009 can be obtained from Liechtenstein provided that the request relates to an investigation of a post-2008 year.

As with anything that happens late in the Bush administration, this might need a closer look. On the one hand it would appear to open up for scrutiny any American using Liechtenstein bank accounts to evade US taxes, and in particular will reduce the need of the US government to rely on the type of evidence that caused the big Germany-Liechtenstein blowup earlier this year. But note that pre-2009 information can only be accessed if there's a 2009 or later paper trail linking to it, unless there is a criminal (as opposed to tax) investigation. Isn't this telling any American with an undisclosed Liechtenstein bank account that December 2008 would be an excellent time to close it?

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