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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘UBS’

William Byrnes presents for Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland (LATCAM) and San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA)

Posted by William Byrnes on July 23, 2013


Link to the story at the faculty page of Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Following on his lunch time CLE presentation for the San Diego County Bar Association with Procopio tax partner Patrick Martin, Associate Dean William Byrnes was invited in April to Zurich, Switzerland to deliver a week-long series of workshops on the implications of FATCA for large financial institutions on the LATAM market.  The series of lectures and workshops began with a breakfast conference of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland, and continued through the week with banking workshops for HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, Hinduja Bank, among others.

Professor William Byrnes’ workshop series was sponsored by Amicorp, a global company service provider, via an invitation by Thomas Jefferson international tax alumni and Swiss office managing director, Geralda Buckley.

William Byrnes stated, “I was intrigued to engage with the banks’ FATCA compliance teams in an open discussion format. The rush of back and forth Q&A and thinking on my feet felt like sixteen years ago when I was a Senior Manager with Coopers & Lybrand leading in-house workshops.  Very complex issues but I’ve since been invited for other workshops so must have been well received.”

He continued, “But the best part of this lecture series was that I shared the floor with an international tax program alumni, and former federal IRS prosecutor, Robert Payne.  It’s wonderful to see the positive impact that the international tax program has played in an alumni’s career.”

“After the workshops, I fielded questions from participants about Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s distance learning pedagogical leadership via video conference specific to a bank’s tax department.”  William Byrnes said “I will continue to introduce Thomas Jefferson to a wider financial community via my alumni outreach, publications and subscribers, and invited lectures with the hope that embedded externships for the current JD and Master students may be established over the coming years.”

Conference information is available at:

San Diego County Bar https://www.sdcba.org/index.cfm?pg=events&evAction=showDetail&eid=11009&evSubAction=listAll

LATCAM http://www.puntolatino.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6240%3A160413-seminar-the-foreign-tay-compliance-act-fatca&catid=345%3Acamara-latinoamericana-de-comercio-en-suiza&Itemid=487&lang=de

Posted in Courses, FATCA | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

FINRA Puts Disciplinary Histories on Web

Posted by William Byrnes on September 29, 2011


Disciplinary histories are becoming easier to access. Brokers’ disciplinary histories are now prominently displayed for the web savvy public; they’re no longer filed away at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), where only the most diligent investors will find them. FINRA has made your disciplinary history freely and easily available to the public by launching a web-accessible discipline database.

Whether the easy accessibility of the information is a  beneficial will depend on a broker’s history. Those with a clean record will undoubtedly benefit from the easy accessibility of the information and the ease with which clients and prospects can search their record and compare it to others. Those with a negative history, whether deserved or not, may now find themselves on the defensive with prospects more often.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of FINRA complaint and disciplinary procedure in Advisor’s Journal, see FINRA Rule 45-30: Expansive New Complaint Report Requirements (CC 11-96) & Broker Bonus Arbitration Bottleneck Forces FINRA to Reconsider Arbitrator Qualification Standards (CC 11-08).

Posted in Financial Crimes, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRS Kicks Off New Offshore Amnesty Program

Posted by William Byrnes on April 6, 2011


Taxpayers with assets hidden in offshore accounts will get a second chance to voluntarily declare their assets to the IRS in return for reduced penalties under the new Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”).

This newest offshore amnesty program offers a reduced, 25% penalty which will be calculated based on the highest aggregate amount in the taxpayer’s offshore account between 2003 and 2010.   In addition to penalties, program participants will be required to pay eight years of back taxes plus interest, accuracy related penalties, and delinquency penalties.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of offshore issues in Advisor’s Journal, see IRS Planning New Voluntary Disclosure Program for Offshore Assets (CC 10-118)Offshore’s Limited Shelf Life (CC 10-47)IRS Proposed FATCA Guidance Expands Offshore Compliance Initiatives (CC 10-52)

 

Posted in Compliance, Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Offshore Swiss Bank Indictments Follow Voluntary Disclosure Program

Posted by William Byrnes on April 1, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses the potential consequences of not playing by the rules; it is important to constantly keep in mind the balance between providing the most efficient and effective services to clients and crossing the line into illegal territory. Clients may not realize the harsh penalties associated with offshore activity, and although when performed by expert planners under the proper circumstances, that some offshore transactions may be legal and beneficial, it is the job of informed wealth managers to keep clients abreast of information that is useful in making long-term financial decisions.

Four bankers at an international bank incorporated and with its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, with offices worldwide, including New York City and Miami, were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia and charged with conspiring with other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Wednesday.

According to the indictment, the international bank’s managers and bankers engaged in illegal cross-border banking that was designed to assist U.S. customers evade their income taxes by opening and maintaining secret bank accounts at the bank and other Swiss banks. As of the fall of 2008, the international bank maintained thousands of secret accounts for customers in the United States with as much as $3 billion in total assets under management in those accounts.

The Justice Department announced the scheme dates back to 1953 and involved two generations of U.S. tax evaders including U.S. customers who inherited secret accounts at the international bank.

The indictment asserts that four foreign individuals, members of senior management, bankers and others assisted U.S. taxpayers in evading their U.S. taxes through the use of secret bank accounts in Switzerland.

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators solicited U.S. customers to open secret accounts because Swiss bank secrecy would permit them to conceal from the IRS their ownership of accounts at the bank and other Swiss banks. It is further alleged that they provided unlicensed and unregistered banking services and investment advice to customers in the United States in person while on travel to here, including at the international bank’s representative office in New York City and by mailings, e-mail and telephone calls to and from the United States.

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

Posted in Compliance, Money Laundering | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Wikileaks To Release Details of Secret Swiss Accounts

Posted by William Byrnes on March 1, 2011


Wikileaks is set to release confidential Swiss banking documents, and although the scope of information included in the documents isn’t yet clear, the release could pave the way for a new IRS surge against tax evaders.  Similar disclosures by bank insiders were at the heart of the Justice Department’s UBS investigation.   This most recent leak came from a former senior private banker and chief operating officer of Julius Baer’s Caribbean operation.   He’s currently on trial in Switzerland for allegedly leaking client documents in 2005.

… the statute of limitations for criminal tax offenses is generally three years, but there are a number of exceptions that extend the statute to six years, including “willfully attempting to evade or defeat any tax.” Leaked documents from prior to 2002 would reveal activities that would generally fall outside the six-year statute of limitations; however, the six year statute only begins to run on the day the last affirmative act is committed by the defendant, so criminal prosecution of accountholders revealed by the leak may still be viable.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the IRS’s offshore enforcement efforts in Advisor’s Journal, see Offshore’s Limited Shelf Life (CC 10-47)IRS Proposed FATCA Guidance Expands Offshore Compliance Initiatives (CC 10-52), and IRS Planning New Voluntary Disclosure Program for Offshore Assets (CC 10-118).

Posted in Money Laundering | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tax Information Exchange (TIEA): an Opportunity for Latin America and Switzerland to Clawback the Capital Flight to America?

Posted by William Byrnes on September 3, 2009


Tax Information Exchange (TIEA): an Opportunity for Latin American to Clawback Its Capital Flight Back from America?  Perhaps even Switzerland?

This blogticle is a short note regarding the potential risk management exposure of US financial institutions’ exposure to a UBS style strategy being employed by foreign revenue departments, such as that of Brazil, and Switzerland.  Of course, such foreign government strategies can only be productive if US financial institutions are the recipient of substantial funds that are unreported by foreign nationals to their respective national revenue departments and national reserve banks, constituting tax and currency/exchange control violations in many foreign countries. 

The important issue of Cross Border Assistance with Tax Collection takes on more relevance when foreign governments begin seeking such assistance from the USA Treasury in collecting and levying against the hundred thousand plus properties purchased with unreported funds, and whose asset value may not have been declared to foreign tax authorities where such reporting is required in either the past, or the current, tax years.  

In the 15 week online International Tax courses starting September 14, we will be undertaking an in-depth analysis of the topics covered in this blog during the 10 online interactive webinars each week.

Tax Elasticity Of Deposits

In the 2002 article International Tax Co-operation and Capital Mobility, prepared for an ECLAC report, from analysing data from the Bank for International Settlements (“BIS”) on international bank deposits, Valpy Fitzgerald found “that non-bank depositors are very sensitive to domestic wealth taxes and interest reporting, as well as to interest rates, which implies that tax evasion is a determinant of such deposits….”[1]  Non-bank depositors are persons that instead invest in alternative international portfolios and financial instruments. 

Estimating How Much Latin American Tax Evasion are US Banks Involved With?

Within two weeks I will post a short blogticle that I am preparing regarding an estimated low figure of $300B capital outflow that has begun / will occur from the USA pursuant to its signing of a TIEA with Brazil.  Some South Florida real estate moguls have speculated that this TIEA has played a substantial role in the withdrawal of Brazilian interest in its real estate market, which has partly led to the sudden crash in purchases of newly contrasted condominium projects.  

Three historical benchmarks regarding the imposition of withholding tax on interest illustrate the immediate and substantial correlation that an increase in tax on interest has on capital flight.  The benchmarks are (1) the 1964 US imposition of withholding tax on interest that immediately led to the creation of the London Euro-dollar market;[2] (2) the 1984 US exemption of withholding tax on portfolio interest that immediately led to the capital flight from Latin America of US$300 billion to US banks;[3] and (3) the 1989 German imposition of withholding tax that led to immediate capital flight to Luxembourg and other jurisdictions with banking secrecy[4].  The effect was so substantial that the tax was repealed only four months after imposition.

The Establishment of London as an International Financial Center

The 1999 IMF Report on Offshore Banking concluded that the US experienced immediate and significant capital outflows in 1964 and 1965 resulting from the imposition of a withholding tax on interest.  Literature identifies the establishment of London as a global financial centre as a result of the capital flight from the US because of its imposition of Interest Equalisation Tax (IET) of 1964.[5]  The take off of the embryonic London eurodollar market resulted from the imposition of the IET.[6]  IET made it unattractive for foreign firms to issue bonds in the US.  Syndicated bonds issued outside the US rose from US$135 million in 1963 to US$696 million in 1964.[7]    In 1964-65, the imposition of withholding tax in Germany, France, and The Netherlands, created the euromark, eurofranc and euroguilder markets respectively.[8]  

The Establishment of Miami as an International Financial Center

Conversely, when in 1984 the US enacted an exemption for portfolio interest from withholding tax, Latin America experienced a capital flight of $300 billion to the US.[9]  A substantial portion of these funds were derived from Brazil.  In fact, some pundits have suggested that Miami as a financial center resulted not from the billions generated from the laundering of drug proceeds which had a tendency to flow outward, but from the hundreds of billions generated from Latin inward capital, nearly all unreported to the governments of origination.

The Establishment of Luxembourg as an International Financial Center

In January of 1989, West Germany imposed a 10% withholding tax on savings and investments.  In April it was repealed, effective July 1st, because the immediate cost to German Banks had already reached DM1.1 billion.[10]  The capital flight was so substantial that it caused a decrease in the value of the Deutsche mark, thereby increasing inflation and forcing up interest rates.  According to the Financial Times, uncertainty about application of the tax, coupled with the stock crash in 1987, had caused a number of foreign investment houses to slow down or postpone their investment plans in Germany.  A substantial amount of capital went to Luxembourg, as well as Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

Switzerland’s Fisc May Come Out Ahead

Perhaps ironically given the nature of the UBS situation currently unfolding, a Trade Based Money Laundering study by three prominent economists and AML experts focused also on measuring tax evasion uncovered that overvalued Swiss imports and undervalued Swiss exports resulted in capital outflows from Switzerland to the United States in the amount of $31 billion within a five year time span of 1995-2000.[11]  That is, pursuant to this transfer pricing study, the Swiss federal and cantonal revenue authorities are a substantial loser to capital flight to the USA.  The comparable impact of the lost tax revenue to the much smaller nation of Switzerland upon this transfer pricing tax avoidance (and perhaps trade-based money laundering) may be significantly greater than that of the USA from its lost revenue on UBS account holders.  Certainly, both competent authorities will have plenty of work on their hands addressing the vast amount of information that needs to be exchanged to stop the bleeding from both countries’ fiscs.

Let me know if you are interested in further developments or analysis in this area.  Prof. William Byrnes (www.llmprogram.org)


[1] International Tax Cooperation and Capital Mobility, Valpy Fitzgerald, 77 CEPAL Review 67 (August 2002) p.72.

[2] See Charles Batchelor, European Issues Go from Strength to Strength: It began with Autostrade’s International Bond in 1963, The Financial Times (September 25, 2003) p.33; An E.U. Withholding Tax?

[3] Globalisation, Tax Competition, and the Fiscal Crisis of the Welfare State, Reuven Avi-Yonah, 113 HVLR 1573, 1631 (May 2000).

[4] Abolition of Withholding Tax Agreed in Bonn Five-Month-Old Interest Withholding To Be Repealed, 89 TNI 19-17.

[5] See Charles Batchelor, European Issues Go from Strength to Strength: It began with Autostrade’s International Bond in 1963, The Financial Times (September 25, 2003) p.33; An E.U. Withholding Tax?

[6] 1999 IMF Offshore Banking Report  p.16.

[7] 1999 IMF Offshore Banking Report  p.16-17.

[8] 1999 IMF Offshore Banking Report  p.17.

[9] Globalisation, Tax Competition, and the Fiscal Crisis of the Welfare State, Reuven Avi-Yonah, 113 HVLR 1573, 1631 (May 2000).

[10] Abolition of Withholding Tax Agreed in Bonn Five-Month-Old Interest Withholding To Be Repealed, 89 TNI 19-17.

[11] Maria E. de Boyrie, Simon J. Pak and John S. Zdanowicz The Impact Of Switzerland’s Money Laundering Law On Capital Flows Through Abnormal Pricing In International Trade Applied 15 Financial Economics 217–230 (Rutledge 2005).

Posted in Compliance, Financial Crimes, information exchange, Legal History, OECD, Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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