California residents with money in foreign banks may have been following the recent goings-on in Switzerland. The Swiss President and Finance Minister has asserted that progress is being made toward resolving U.S. tax evasion cases against Swiss banks. However, U.S. prosecutors continue to increase pressure on Swiss banks to give up the names of American customers who might have committed tax evasion.

In a 2010 case against UBS AG — Switzerland’s largest bank — U.S. authorities successfully forced the bank to disclose 4,450 U.S. clients’ files. After that, an amnesty program and the arrest of a number of Swiss bankers have given U.S. prosecutors the information they need to file disclosure actions against other Swiss banks.

Last month, Switzerland’s oldest bank, which dates back to 1741, closed after U.S. authorities indicted the bank for conspiring to aid Americans in concealing over $1.2 billion from the IRS. Now two more Zurich-based banks, Zuercher Kantanalbank and Julius Baer Group — both founded in the late 19th century — have been targeted by U.S. prosecutors. The banks are expected to outline their responses to the pressure from the U.S. to provide detailed information on tax-evading Americans. In all, 11 Swiss banks are facing serious pressure from U.S. officials.

In addition, the Swiss government has agreed to give U.S. authorities certain documents outlining the activities of Swiss banks with regard to U.S. business.

To ensure their own tax compliance, California residents with money in foreign banks will want to consult with a tax attorney who can help determine the best course of action. With the IRS cracking down on tax evasion, Californians will want to know exactly what their options are.

Source: metronews.com, “Swiss banks to outline steps in US tax evasion row,” Feb. 5, 2012