- Days left
Liechtenstein has long been thought of as a country which is a tax haven for those who wanted to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. And now, a former banker with UBS, a Swiss bank with a license to do business in the United States, says employees were trained on helping customers avoid U.S. tax laws. Bradley Birkenfeld has pleaded guilty to tax evasion in the U.S. and is helping federal prosecutors investigate banking practices.

It is alleged that UBS Bank helped at least 19,000 U.S. consumers to create "undeclared" bank accounts in Liechtenstein, which hid $18 billion in assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is head of a Senate committee that held a hearing about this issue today. He released a list of "secrecy tricks" to the media, which include some of the following tactics to help hide assets: give clients code names, use pay phones instead of business phones, create undeclared accounts, transfer companies to cover tracks, use foreign shell companies, create fake charitable trusts, use anonymous wire transfers, disguise business trips, and shred mail.
It is alleged that UBS violated U.S. banking laws by providing services it was not licensed to provide and by misusing Swiss bank secrecy laws. UBS is being investigated by the IRS, FBI, and Securities and Exchange Commission. This could get very interesting. It's already sounding mighty "cloak and dagger" with former employee Birkenfeld telling a story about buying diamonds with a client's Swiss bank funds and smuggling them into the United States in a toothpaste tube.

I'm not a fan of income taxes, and will do anything legal to reduce my tax burden as much as possible. But if I have to follow the laws, so should everyone else. Using foreign laws and tax havens to avoid U.S. taxes is wrong, and if UBS is actively helping customers to do just that, they need to be stopped and punished.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

How much house can I afford

Home buying 101, evaluating one of your most important financial decisions.

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Ways To Increase Your Tax Refund You Never Thought About

Laying the groundwork for a tax refund requires some simple tax planning, a little research and some forethought. Reviewing your tax status, consulting your spouse when filling out your W-4s and taking advantage of several tax credits can help you increase your tax refund. TurboTax also can help decide which credits can get you the biggest refund.

What Extra Tax Deductions Should I Make Sure To Take?

The federal government offers tax deductions and credits to reduce taxable income under certain circumstances. There are several that are often overlooked, including deductions for job hunting, caregiver expenses for dependents and children while you work, a credit to reduce taxes for moderate- to low-income earners and the premium tax credit associated with the Affordable Care Act. TurboTax can help determine if you qualify for these credits and deductions.

8 Things You Think Are Tax Deductible That Aren't

There?s a fine line between looking to save money on your taxes and taking deductions that will raise eyebrows at the Internal Revenue Service. Some taxpayers are tripped up by expenses that they assume are tax deductions, but don?t qualify under IRS guidelines. Here are a dozen items that can lead to unpleasant surprises in case of an audit.

9 Things You Didn't Know Were Tax Deductions

Few realizations are more painful than realizing that you forgot to include a tax deduction that would have lowered your tax bill or increased your tax refund on your tax return. Here are some tax deductions that you shouldn't overlook.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum