Swiss bank account holders have to December 31 to avoid audit dangers

Switzerland and Canada begin an automatic tax information sharing protocol in 2018. In order to prepare for this change (and avoid liability) a very large number of Swiss banks are demanding that resident Canadian account holders either (a) show proof that they are reporting their income from their accounts or (b) show proof that they have begun a voluntary disclosure to do so, as Nicholas Simard of Faskens reports here. If such proof is not received by December 31, plans generally seem to be to liquidate the accounts and send a cheque to the accountholder’s address. This puts such holders at significant risk of an audit. And of course your information will begin to be shared with Canadian authorities beginning in 2018.

That deadline is three weeks away. If you are not reporting income on Swiss accounts, whether they are yours or were left to you by a relative, beginning a voluntary disclosure is easy. It is entirely confidential and privileged when managed by a lawyer. And it will allow you to manage your affairs sensibly while you adjust to the new information sharing regimes. I can assist in opening voluntary disclosures before the December 31 deadline if you act quickly to contact me. (905 870 0196 is the number; is the email.)

Remember too: if you live in fear of an audit, or an envelope requesting information or returns from CRA, a voluntary disclosure is the first step in not just making tonight’s sleep better, but every night’s sleep better. A VD can protect you and save you a great deal of your money, but only if you do it before you hear from the authorities.

Written by Craig Burley

Craig is a tax lawyer in private practice in Hamilton, Ontario. Call Craig at (905) 296-3378 to discuss issues that you think may need independent tax advice. In addition to tax, Craig writes and works publicly on a number of other issues related to law, justice, and public affairs.