September 23, 2009 - Phil Hodgen

The reaper is coming for UBS account holders

If you have a UBS account, you are probably sitting by the mailbox. Waiting.

The list of 4,450 names to be divulged?  Well, UBS is working on identifying the human sacrifices whose names will be offered up to the Almighty Tax God.  Key ‘graf in the story:

“UBS is currently examining which client relationships fulfill the government’s criteria of ‘tax fraud or the like,’ ” Mr. Steiner said. He said this process would take “some months,” but UBS would tell clients whether they were affected once a decision was reached.

Key on that phrase “tax fraud or the like.”  Swiss law permits UBS to breach bank privacy laws where “tax fraud” is committed.  Other lesser offenses (such as the fact that you have U.S. citizenship, or even “tax evasion” as the Swiss define it) will theoretically keep information locked behind bank secrecy walls.

At this point, your fate is in someone else’s hands.  What will that random diligent Swiss bureaucrat think when he/she looks at your UBS account?  Will he/she decide “Oh, dear, this is ‘tax fraud or the like,’ so here’s a name of someone who can help with your budget deficit, Mr. Treasury Secretary,”  or maybe the decision in Switzerland is “Meh, just a run of the mill tax evader, no problem-o dude!”

Here is where you hold a lottery ticket.  There is an uncertain (and maybe low) probability of disclosure.  The payout upon disclosure, though, is that the IRS will cook you for breakfast.

You have until October 15, 2009 to calculate the expected values of the various outcomes (thanks, Prof. Gerald Eyrich for the Statistics classes at Claremont Men’s College all those years ago), make a decision, and take action.

Me?  Life is too short, etc.  I’d rather have a money problem than a jail problem.  Even if it wiped out my net worth.  Because the jail problem will wipe out my net worth, too.

My suggestion:  if you are at UBS, or if you did have an account there at any time after 2001, seriously consider making a voluntary disclosure and cleaning things up.

Call me.  Landline +1-626-689-0060, mobile +1-626-437-2500.  Let’s talk.  We are helping a LOT of people through this process.  We can help you, too.

Voluntary Disclosure