Sep 7, 2009, 8:53 a.m. EST
U.K., Switzerland to share tax information
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Britain and Switzerland signed a pact Monday to share tax information, the U.K. government said Monday, the latest in a series of agreements expected to limit the ability of individuals to hide money from tax authorities.
"The days when hiding money offshore represented a viable means of evading U.K. tax are rapidly drawing to a close," said Stephen Timms, financial secretary to the British Treasury, in a news release.
Timms signed the accord with Alexis P. Lautenberg, the Swiss ambassador to Britain, the U.K. Treasury said. The agreement will take effect once lawmakers in both countries have made necessary changes to domestic laws.
The United States and Switzerland signed a similar agreement earlier this year.
In a landmark settlement last month, Swiss banking giant UBS agreed to hand over the names of 4,450 U.S. clients to Swiss tax authorities, who will then hand them to U.S. tax enforcers. See full story.
Under heavy international pressure, Switzerland earlier this year said it would take action to comply with standards developed by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on sharing tax information.
Finance ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations on Saturday said they would begin a tough crackdown on tax havens that fail to sign up to the OECD standards by March 2010.
William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London.