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Facts don’t matter
December 04, 2014

Facts don’t matter

Selective perception in the Huffington Post: An article misleads British clients.

An article in the Huffington Post brings together everything you need for a juicy story: Swiss bank accounts, undeclared assets, and rich people who are having to pay up. It is quite impressive to see how in his article, author Asa Bennett succeeds in ignoring all of the facts that would interfere with his story.

The article gives the impression that any British citizen who still has untaxed assets in Switzerland after the upcoming legislative reforms will be faced with a penalty tax at a rate of 200% - a super-tax. The author nonchalantly mentions an existing tax agreement, but fails to provide any details on the key aspects thereof. The agreement ensures that all British taxpayers with an account in Switzerland are taxable for the past and the future. There are no possibilities for circumventing this, and the taxes are deducted automatically. Clients who did not wish to be subject to the agreement had to declare their accounts with the HMRC and now pay taxes by means of that route. There are therefore no more British clients with untaxed assets in Switzerland. The legislative reform – this was also not worth the mention in the article – is by the way in no way geared toward Switzerland, but rather toward a whole series of other countries including New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, the US and others.

There is one more detail that would have been interesting to readers and we informed the author of thereof before his article went to the editors: Switzerland, together with many other countries, has committed to adopting the automatic exchange of information. Unfortunately, it would appear that this was another detail that did not fit into the story. But what really made me rub my eyes was that even finews.ch, a highly regarded platform in financial circles ate the story up. Thankfully the issue is approached in a more differentiated manner in other cases, as demonstrated in Agefi’s article published on 4 December.