As US Cracks Swiss Secrets, UBS Clients Cop to IRS

Tax evaders taking agency's amnesty deal rather than risk being caught
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Nov 24, 2008 10:57 AM CST
Secrecy has long been the main selling point for UBS and other Swiss banks.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The IRS is getting an unexpected boon from a Justice Department probe of Swiss bank UBS: Some of its wealthy US clients are owning up to offshore accounts to take advantage of the agency’s amnesty offer, the Wall Street Journal reports—a blow to the secrecy that has made Swiss banks a haven for would-be tax evaders.

UBS helped some 20,000 US customers evade taxes, and though the IRS doesn’t have the staff to track them all down, many aren’t taking the chance, particularly with a key bank exec cooperating with authorities. “We have a lot of names and we're pursuing them aggressively,” the IRS chief said. “People definitely will be better off if they come to us before we find them. And the chances of us finding them increase every day.”