While official details will not be concluded until the US signs the agreement, both the cabinet and the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) said the deal should finally settle past misdemeanors to the satisfaction of all parties without breaking Swiss law.
“The signing of the joint statement should enable Swiss banks to resolve the tax dispute with the United States,” the government said in a short statement.
The SBA hailed the agreement as the “final step towards a solution”, adding that “the protection of employees [threatened with criminal prosecution in the US] can now be afforded to the best possible extent.”
The agreement between the Swiss government and banks sidesteps the need for parliamentary approval, a crucial point given the rejection by both houses of parliament in June of the so-called Lex USA deal that promised to find an earlier solution.
According to the US Justice Department, the total penalties expected to be levied against banks under the agreement will amount to hundreds of millions and possible over a billion dollars.
Penalties will increase for accounts opened after 2009, when the bank UBS reached a $780 million prosecution agreement with the US for having assisted tax evaders.
The deal will mainly affect around 100 banks that are under suspicion, but not investigation, by the US Department of Justice, several media outlets reported.
However, the handful of banks (around 14) currently under active investigation by US authorities will not be eligible for the deal. Those banks had been authorised by the Swiss government last year to hand over details of their US business activities to the US authorities, including names of employees.
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Read more at: Tax Times blog