Federal Office of Justice

UBS case

Agreement between the United States of America and Switzerland on the request for information from the Internal Revenue Service regarding UBS

What is it about?

The Agreement on the request for information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding UBS resolves the conflict over sovereignty with the USA along the lines provided for in the Tax Treaty. The negotiated solution settles the potential conflict between the respective legal orders of Switzerland and USA now that the USA agree to forgo unilateral measures to obtain information. The IRS submits a new treaty request to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA) on the basis of the tax treaty currently in effect between the two nations. In return, Switzerland has undertaken to process the new treaty request within a year.

What has happened so far?
  • On 30 April 2009, Switzerland files a brief with the United States District Court in Miami competent in the UBS case. In its brief, the federal government explains its legal position on the case and emphasizes that Switzerland's legal system, and thus its sovereignty, must be respected (media release media release).
  • In a response to the opinion of the U.S. authorities in the UBS case, Switzerland on 7 July 2009 confirms that Swiss law prohibits handing over client information. In its filing with the competent court in Miami, the government of Switzerland also points out that the necessary measures to implement Swiss law have been prepared (media release media release).
  • On 12 July 2009, the US Government and UBS, with the support of the Swiss Government, file a joint motion to stay the civil litigation pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami (media release media release). Hereinafter, the Court stays the proceedings two other times in order to achieve a settlement.
  • On 12 August 2009 the USA and Switzerland inform the judge that they have reached the out-of-court settlement in the US civil proceedings against UBS (media release media release).
  • On 19 August 2009 the agreement between the USA and Switzerland enters into force. In the UBS case, the United States will submit a new treaty request to Switzerland and will withdraw the John Doe summons that demands disclosure of the identity of 52,000 UBS account-holders. In return, Switzerland has undertaken to process the new treaty request, concerning approx. 4,450 accounts, within a year (media release media release).
  • On 19 August 2009 the Federal Council instructs the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) to set up a project organisation team to deal with the second complex request for administrative assistance from the USA and appoints Hans-Jörg Müllhaupt as project coordinator (media release media release).
  • On 31 August 2009 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) files a request for administrative assistance with the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) concerning approximately 4,450 UBS accounts (media release media release).
  • On 17 November 2009 the Annex to Agreement is published in Switzerland's official compilation of legislation. The official assistance that Switzerland is providing to the US tax authorities in connection with the UBS affair is on track (media release media release).
  • Within the scope of a request for administrative assistance from the US tax authorities, the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has already processed over 500 cases (media release media release).
  • On January 21, 2010, an UBS AG account holder wins a Federal Administrative Court case preventing data from being disclosed to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This ruling involves a single test case on continued and severe tax evasion (media release media release (13 Kb, pdf) ).
  • Further to an analysis of the Federal Administrative Court's latest ruling, the Council decides on 27 January 2010 to continue talks with the USA. A possible second step would be to put the Treaty Request Agreement to Parliament for approval (media release media release).
  • The Federal Council is to put the UBS Agreement to Parliament for formal approval. On 24 February 2010 it instructs the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) to prepare the corresponding Federal Council Message (media release media release).
  • On 31 March 2010 the Federal Council approves the amending protocol which revises the UBS Agreement. The protocol is signed the same day in Washington (media release media release).
  • On 14 April 2010 the Federal Council passes the dispatch on the acceptance of the revised UBS Agreement to parliament (media release media release).
  • The Parliament approves during the summer session 2010 the revised UBS Agreement (media release media release).
  • In a pilot verdict of July 15, 2010, the rejects a complaint with which a UBS client wanted to prevent the release of her client data to the American tax authorities (media release media release).
  • The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has concluded its administrative assistance examination relating to approximately 4,450 UBS client dossiers. It has done so by the deadline set in the administrative assistance treaty with the (media release media release).
  • Following the last substantial delivery of administrative assistance cases by Switzerland, on 15 November 2010 the US tax authority (IRS) withdraws fully and definitively the John Doe Summons served on UBS (media release media release).

For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.

Documentation

Ruling of the Federal Administrative Court
Contact / questions
Folco Galli
Federal Office of Justice
Bundesrain 20
CH-3003 Bern
T +41 58 462 77 88, T +41 79 214 48 81
Contact
Beat Furrer
Swiss Federal Tax Administration
Eigerstrasse 65
CH-3003 Bern
T +41 58 464 91 29
Contact