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Swiss Upper House Backs Amendment to Tax Treaty With U.S.

The Swiss parliament’s upper house today approved an amendment to a tax treaty with the U.S. that allows the handover of files on suspected tax offenders.

Today’s decision paves the way for final approval by the parliament’s upper house at its next session in 2012, Mark Stucki, a spokesman for the Swiss parliament, told Bloomberg News by telephone.

Handovers may include cases where U.S. authorities don’t know the identities of American holders of Swiss bank accounts. The revised accord allows officials to support their request by identifying certain patterns of bank transactions by the taxpayer.

The amendment is intended to clarify the September 2009 accord, the Swiss government said in August when it asked the upper house to back it. The previous 1996 agreement already allowed the transfer of documents in certain cases where the U.S. doesn’t have names.

Switzerland is also in talks with the U.S. on a comprehensive solution on untaxed assets of U.S. account holders held at Swiss banks. An agreement will be submitted to parliament for approval separately, Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told the upper house today without giving details.

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