Tags: offshore | accounts

Investors Rush for Tax Advice on Overseas Accounts

Tuesday, 15 Sep 2009 11:39 AM

By Ddan Weil

U.S. investors with offshore accounts are scrambling for tax advice ahead of the Sept. 23 deadline for declaring their holdings.

The government is cracking down on citizens who sought to avoid taxes by parking their assets secretly offshore. A Senate committee calculated that citizens hiding assets overseas cost Uncle Sam $100 billion of taxes each year, according to the Financial Times.

Last month, the government came to a settlement with UBS in which the Swiss government forked over 4,450 names of Americans with accounts at the bank.

Lawyers and tax advisors in London, Hong Kong, and other world financial centers have seen a raft of calls from Americans worried about whether they have correctly declared offshore assets ahead of the deadline.

“My phone is ringing off the hook. There is a tremendous amount of interest,” Darlene Hart, chief executive of U.S. Tax & Financial Services, an advisory firm in London and Switzerland, told the FT.

She said inquiries increased 10 times since the UBS settlement in August.

The deadline is particularly important for Americans living in low-tax areas, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, Suzanne Reisman, a London-based U.S. private client lawyer, told the FT.

Offshore accounts are losing their appeal.

"The entire offshore banking model seems to be dead," Teodoro Cocca, a professor of wealth management at Johannes Kepler University in Austria, tells Reuters.

"Forget bank secrecy and focus on onshore or on tax compliant business."

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