Switzerland is in the process of setting up a tax hotline, primarily for US citizens, to deal with an expected influx of questions once the US and Switzerland both sign the new double taxation agreement, GenevaLunch has been told by a government official. The date for the hotline to open is not yet set, nor are further details available yet.

The Swiss cabinet 11 September gave a green light to two ministries, foreign affairs and finance, to sign the agreement. They are currently working on details, the official says, and while no one can yet say when exactly the agreement will be signed, he would not exclude that this could be in the very near future. [Ed. note: a Swiss Bankers Association senior official said at a meeting in Geneva Tuesday evening that Switzerland is expected to sign the agreement tomoorw, 23 September].

Once the agreement is signed the contents will be made available to the public. The hotline will respond to questions about the role of the Swiss government and banks in Switzerland in providing administrative assistance to the IRS, the US tax authority.

The new treaty could leave several gray areas, in particular where dual nationals or Americans with Swiss or other foreign spouses are concerned. The Swiss government cannot provide advice or information to Americans about filing their US taxes, nor does the IRS provide information about respecting Swiss laws, for those who live in Switzerland. GenevaLunch spoke with the IRS office in Paris to ask about a possible conflict over filing FBAR (list of foreign assets, including bank accounts) forms with the IRS in the case of US citizens who have joint accounts with non-US citizen spouses, as one example of a possible problem. Citizens must complete the form, for the past six years, by 15 October, to be compliant with US law, the IRS officer said. She would not comment on a potential conflict with Swiss privacy protection laws, if the spouse does not agree.

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