Times: You and Us and the IRS and UBS and Your Moral Quandary

As the ads say there is You and Us and UBS.

And now there is the IRS and your moral quandary to add to this party as the Swiss close your secret offshore account.

Quandary: You can cash your check, or throw it away. Tough decision.
Pressured by I.R.S., UBS Is Closing Secret Accounts

Under pressure from federal authorities, the Swiss bank UBS is closing the hidden offshore accounts of its well-heeled American clients, potentially allowing their secrets to spill into the open.

In a step that would have once been unthinkable in the rarefied world of Swiss banking, UBS will shut about 19,000 accounts that prosecutors suspect have gone undeclared to the Internal Revenue Service.

UBS will transfer the assets to other banks or other divisions within UBS, or will mail checks directly to the account holders, creating paper trails for federal prosecutors who are examining whether UBS clients used such accounts to evade taxes.

The clients now face stark choices: they can cash their checks, and thereby alert the authorities to any potential wrongdoing, or not cash them, effectively losing their money.

Or they can transfer the money to new banks, a procedure which, in the case of foreign banks, requires depositors of more than $10,000 to report the new account to the Treasury Department.

“You can either take that check and throw it in the woods, or deposit it somewhere and get busted,” said a UBS client, who asked not to be named because of the investigations into UBS and its clients. “There’s nowhere to hide.”

Americans can use offshore accounts, provided they disclose them and pay taxes on their holdings. UBS, the world’s largest private bank, said in July that it would stop offering to American clients offshore private banking services that are not declared to the I.R.S. Prosecutors contend that UBS helped wealthy Americans hide about $18 billion, thereby evading taxes of $300 million each year... more

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