UBS has so far refused to name the individuals in public. U.S. authorities, meanwhile, have hoped that the identities of the individuals on the list would be kept secret for longer so that more Americans with undeclared assets abroad might come forward under a recently extended tax amnesty program.
According to a bank spokesperson, "UBS is currently examining which client relationships fulfill the government's criteria of 'tax fraud." The review may take some months but UBS is committed to informing clients that they are affected by the tax evasion investigation. UBS has already informed 500 clients that they are the subject of an investigation by the US Justice Department.
The IRS on Monday said it would extend its deadline for an amnesty program that has been flooded with applications from people who hid assets overseas. The program promises no jail time and reduced penalties for tax dodgers who come forward.
The financial services industry can expect these types of investigations to become more commonplace. Institutions that offer hedge funds and investment products that cater to High Net Worth investors will increasingly become subject to greater scrutiny as the US Treasury Department and its enforcement arm the IRS moves to insure that compliance with tax laws and statutes are adhered too.
This resolution signifies that the IRS is serious about its intention to ramp up enforcement of the tax code. The IRS has enhanced its focus on US citizens and corporations utilizing foreign banks and offshore investment vehicles. The agency is concerned that investment products and financial services offered by foreign banks have enabled US citizens and corporations to avoid tax liabilities. Products such as credit cards, hedge funds and other investment partnerships are coming under the exacting microscope of the IRS.
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