Treasury looks to net £5bn in Swiss tax grab

THE UK and Switzerland last night unveiled a landmark deal that will see over 15,000 British holders of Swiss bank accounts pay up to £5bn in tax.

Under the historic agreement, funds held by UK taxpayers in Switzerland will be subject to a one-off levy of between 19 per cent and 34 per cent, depending on the amount kept in the account, to settle all past tax liabilities.

The Treasury estimates that there is some £20bn in UK funds stashed in Swiss accounts and that the total haul from the one-off levy could net the exchequer up to £5bn, making a significant one-off contribution to repairing the public finances.

Swiss banks will initially make a one-off payment of SwFr500m (£384m) to Britain, with the remainder likely to be paid in the 2013-14 tax year once legislation has been passed in the Commons.

In a concession to Switzerland’s much-cherished principle of banking secrecy, the taxes will be collected at source and paid directly to the exchequer by the banks. All account holders will remain anonymous.

Chancellor George Osborne said of the deal: “The days when it was easy to stash the profits of tax evasion in Switzerland are over.”