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US tax authorities extend deadline

The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended a deadline for tax evaders to come forward in order to be treated relatively leniently.

This content was published on September 21, 2009 - 18:57

A number of those affected will be wealthy Americans, who had placed their money in Swiss UBS bank to avoid paying taxes.

Originally a deadline of September 23 was set for the amnesty, under which anyone who had undeclared assets in a foreign bank would receive reduced penalties if they informed the authorities about what they had done.

However, administrative and logistic hurdles meant that not all those who wished to do so were able to submit their documents in time, so on Monday the deadline was put back to October 15.

The IRS said that the deadline would not be extended again, and anyone who failed to come clean would face a hefty fine.

The amnesty programme started in March, after UBS reached an agreement with the US justice department, which included handing over the names of about 250 suspected tax cheats.

As part of a subsequent agreement, UBS agreed to provide the names of about another 4,450 suspected cheats to the US authorities within a year.

However, these clients can avoid the most serious consequences if they approach the authorities themselves within the deadline. They will be ineligible for the amnesty once the IRS has received information about them from the bank.

At one point the IRS put pressure on UBS to reveal details of all 52,000 of its US customers, but under an agreement between the Swiss and US governments reached in August, this demand was lifted.

Switzerland and the US are to sign a new dual taxation agreement on Wednesday. The agreement, which meets the standards set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, was initialled in June.

Precise details of the agreement have not been released. The Swiss embassy in Washington says the two sides will publish their positions in writing.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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