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Singapore, Australia Agree to Share Information Regarding Offshore Accounts

Offshore Account Update

Posted on September 30, 2016 |

Throughout the world, investors have always been interested in using offshore bank accounts in countries other than the ones they live in. There are a lot of reasons for wanting to keep money offshore, with privacy of the offshore accounts often one of the major driving forces for keeping money in other countries.  Certain locations in particular, like Switzerland, were known for strict banking privacy laws which would prevent accountholder information from being shared.

In recent years, however, there has been a worldwide crackdown on the use of offshore accounts for tax evasion. One of the main forms this crackdown has taken involve countries agreeing to share information with governments in other jurisdictions about accountholders. This is happening with increased frequency now, and more and more countries are signing onto agreements to share account and financial data.

For those with offshore accounts, the stripping away of their privacy protections and sharing of their information is creating problems. In particular, many people with offshore accounts did not report those accounts to their taxing authorities as required, nor did they pay all the taxes they should have.  This could mean legal trouble when their account information is shared.

For those in the U.S. with offshore accounts, you may be able to limit financial penalties and avoid criminal consequences through voluntary amnesty programs. You may also have other proactive approaches you can take. It is best to get legal help before your information is turned over to the IRS, and a Boston tax evasion attorney can help.

More Countries Exchanging Information on Offshore Accounts

Currently, there are more than 100 jurisdictions which have made a commitment to begin sharing information by 2018 with the goal of preventing tax evasion.   More countries are making agreements and committing to providing info on a regular basis. Countries that have already agreed to share tax data include Hong Kong and Switzerland.

Just recently, another agreement was reached. Australia and Singapore committed to a bilateral exchange of accountholder information.  Singapore has been under pressure to agree because it is one of the top locations for commodities companies.

Commodities companies claim they want to be in Singapore because a growing share of their market comes from this region, they want access to local expertise, they want access to trade routes, and they want to be closer to Asian clients. Resource-producing countries, however, claim evading taxes is the real motivating force for commodities companies using units in Singapore.

If tax evasion is the goal, the exchange of information could make this evasion impossible going forward.  Singapore agreed to the exchange because they received assurances information would be kept confidential and data protected. They have not agreed to exchange information with Indonesia yet, despite efforts to create such an agreement.

It is likely more countries will sign agreements and more cooperation will occur in upcoming years to stop tax evasion. For those with undeclared offshore funds, it is time to act before your financial data on your offshore accounts is given to the government. Contact attorney Kevin Thorn for help as soon as possible.

For a consultation, contact Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner, at ket@thornlawgroup.com or (617) 692-2989

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