Swiss government gives £340m to the UK Treasury in tax deal

THE SWISS authorities have paid HM Revenue & Customs an initial £340m as part of a deal to crackdown on tax evasion, chancellor George Osborne revealed yesterday.

The payment was made on Monday and forms the first part of an arrangement that the Treasury hopes could raise up to £6bn in extra revenue over the next five years.

“[This is] the first time in our history that money due in taxes has flowed from Switzerland to the UK, instead of the other way round,” Osborne told the House of Commons, while defending plans to cut taxes.

Switzerland agreed with the UK last year to impose a one-off levy on money in Britons’ secret Swiss bank accounts and to tax future interest payments, with effect from the start of 2013.

“We are supporting more job creation by further reducing the rate of corporation tax to 21 per cent, and since 1 January we have been helping businesses large and small to invest, with a temporary tenfold increase in the annual investment allowance,” Osborne said at Treasury questions.

“We can afford these tax reductions in part because we are taking tough action on tax evasion.”

The government’s Autumn Statement estimated that £40bn is held by Britons in Swiss bank accounts but it will only be possible to identify of the owners of £25bn of this money.

In addition to the one-off levy there will be a withholding tax of at least 27 per cent on future income and a 40 per cent inheritance tax on Swiss assets held by British investors.

Switzerland has watered down its banking secrecy rules under pressure from foreign governments following the financial crisis.