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Britain gets better Swiss tax deal terms

London, April 21, 2012

Switzerland has revised a tax pact agreed with Britain last year and will offer it a higher rate of withholding tax, after Germany earlier this month succeeded in obtaining more favourable terms in a similar deal with the Swiss government.

Switzerland said in a statement on Friday that the terms offered to Britain will be "brought into line" with those granted to Germany. 

For several years, Switzerland has been at loggerheads with several countries, including the United States and Germany, over wealthy individuals who have parked money in secret accounts to avoid taxes.

In 2009, flagship bank UBS had to pay a fine and hand over the names of 4,500 clients who were suspected of cheating on taxes to U.S. authorities to avoid a criminal probe.

In a bid to preserve banking secrecy, which underpins its large offshore wealth management industry, Switzerland last year inked withholding tax deals with both Germany and Britain.

These will allow account-holders to pay taxes without revealing their identities.

Members of the opposition Social Democrat party in Germany, however, have criticised the agreement for being too lenient, forcing Berlin and Berne to revise the deal. Now, London has also obtained new terms.

For Britons, existing assets, some of which have been held in hidden Swiss offshore accounts for decades, will be taxed at a rate between 21 and 41 percent, compared with the initially agreed 19-34 per cent, it said.

The deal is still set to come into force on January 1, 2013.-Reuters




Tags: Britain | Switzerland | term | tax deal |

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