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  #61  
Old 05.10.2015, 14:45
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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I am not talking about tax evasion. At all. I agree that people who plan to evade tax will do so anyway...

I am talking about bringing your money to a safe haven. Hard to imagine for a Swiss, but totally common in less stable economies - you do not want all your money to be in one currency in one country, especially if either the country or currency have a track record to cause trouble. Just look at the development of the Malaysian Ringgit of the last year. Trust me, over 90% of rich Malaysians will have some money stashed away in Singapore... If I was rich and living in South Africa would I make sure that a lot of my wealth is out of reach for the government and not 100% in Rand. Same is true for any other African country. I would want to store it in a bank in a place that is famous to be safe and stable, ideally in my time zone... and that leaves me with Switzerland or London.
I wouldn't underestimate the safe haven factor. It's a important reason why middle class Venezuelans and other Latin Americans have bank accounts in Miami.

My German neighbor likes to mention that Germany destroyed its currency twice in the last century while the same Swiss coins from the 1930s remain in circulation.
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  #62  
Old 05.10.2015, 14:56
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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I am talking about bringing your money to a safe haven. Hard to imagine for a Swiss, but totally common in less stable economies - you do not want all your money to be in one currency in one country, especially if either the country or currency have a track record to cause trouble.
It's true, not all such moving of money around is about tax evasion and you don't have to be in a developing nation to realize this. Back in 2008 and more recently this year, the danger existed in both Ireland and Greece that they would end up leaving the Euro and return to a new Punt / Drachma respectively, which would end up being devalued drastically before long. I had more than a few casual inquiries about Swiss bank accounts come my way seven years ago.
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Old 05.10.2015, 16:30
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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My German neighbor likes to mention that Germany destroyed its currency twice in the last century while the same Swiss coins from the 1930s remain in circulation.
Reichsmark to Deutsche Mark after WW2 was one, the Euro another... be he did not count the ridiculous exchange rate for worthless savings in Eastern German currency at the unification as the third time?
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  #64  
Old 05.10.2015, 16:55
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Reichsmark to Deutsche Mark after WW2 was one, the Euro another... be he did not count the ridiculous exchange rate for worthless savings in Eastern German currency at the unification as the third time?
The first Geman currency collapse in the 20th century was of the Mark, which was then superseded by the Rentenmark/ Reichsmark. Then, after WW II, the Reichsmark was replaced by the Deutsche Mark in BRD:

"Die deutsche Währungsgeschichte seit der Reichsgründung (1871) war durch Einführung einer einheitlichen Währung und eine Reihe nachfolgender Währungsreformen geprägt. Nach der Einführung der goldgedeckten Mark 1871 brachte der Erste Weltkrieg zunächst die Aufhebung der Golddeckung der Mark, 1923 gefolgt von einer Hyperinflation. Die Hyperinflation konnte durch Währungsumstellung auf die Rentenmark (später Reichsmark) gestoppt werden. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg brach auch die Reichsmark zusammen. 1948 wurden die Deutsche Mark in den drei westlichen Besatzungszonen und die Mark der DDR in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone eingeführt."

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsc...ungsgeschichte
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  #65  
Old 05.10.2015, 17:17
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Reichsmark to Deutsche Mark after WW2 was one, the Euro another... be he did not count the ridiculous exchange rate for worthless savings in Eastern German currency at the unification as the third time?
If we're talking about the last Century, I think there were slightly more currency reforms than that. The one after the end of hyperinflation comes to mind for example.

Edit: OOPS, somebody beat me to it.
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  #66  
Old 06.10.2015, 11:05
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Should protecting my money from a corrupt regime be a crime?

I think it would help the country more if they start working on the reasons why people move their money abroad instead of criminalizing the people who have the means to improve the country...
Simply moving assets abroad (in a legal manner, which by definition includes having it taxed as defined by all applicable laws) doesn't get your assets out of a governments' reach.

Thus (as you phrase it), protecting your assets from a corrupt regime (btw, who's the judge on that?), clearly encompasses evading taxes and similars.

Pretending to move your assets abroad simply to find stability is nothing but a smokescreen to cover the illegality of the move.

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I am not talking about tax evasion. At all. I agree that people who plan to evade tax will do so anyway...
In my book that's a direct contradiction to your above statement because, as shown above, "protection from a corrupt regime" necessarily includes tax evasion.
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  #67  
Old 06.10.2015, 11:16
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Simply moving assets abroad (in a legal manner, which by definition includes having it taxed as defined by all applicable laws) doesn't get your assets out of a governments' reach.

Thus (as you phrase it), protecting your assets from a corrupt regime (btw, who's the judge on that?), clearly encompasses evading taxes and similars.

Pretending to move your assets abroad simply to find stability is nothing but a smokescreen to cover the illegality of the move.


In my book that's a direct contradiction to your above statement because, as shown above, "protection from a corrupt regime" necessarily includes tax evasion.
Not quite so simple, had you had 1,000,000 in a bank in Cyprus, you would have lost 900,000 just because it was in Cyprus. Had you put that 900,000 in any bank in another country you would still have that 900,000. No cheating or evading taxes.

Do you think Jews living in Germany during the war who hid money in Switzerland were really criminals? The punishment if caught was the death penalty, however if you already fear for your life that's not going to be an issue.

Up until 1979 you could not export money from the UK without permission from the Bank of England. Ok you could go on holiday with £600. Just impose exchange controls..... See how well that goes down, no foreign internet purchases.
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  #68  
Old 06.10.2015, 11:20
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Should protecting my money from a corrupt regime be a crime?

I think it would help the country more if they start working on the reasons why people move their money abroad instead of criminalizing the people who have the means to improve the country...
This I agree with, absolutely.

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If you do that in bank legislation you need to be stringent and do the same in other areas - only Swiss can buy a beer, people from countries where alcohol is illegal should be controlled at the kiosk and the attempt reported to their home countries... sounds like a lot of work? Welcome to Fatca.
I'm not so sure. There are many other things you cannot do in Switzerland as a foreigner, or in many other countries as a foreigner for that matter. So there is a legally enshrined dsicrimantion on the job market for example, favouring Swiss and residents of countries with which Switzerland has agreements over residents of countries with which Switzerland doesn't have comparable agreements. In some places your nationality may affect your right to buy property. In the US, only citizens can buy guns.

So there are plenty of examples of such nationailty based discrimination which we accept and rarely question.

It would be bad business practice if banks started discriminating based on country of residency, but I don't think it would be legally objectionable.

It's not so much about what is permitted in people's home countries as what is practicable and enforcable and advantageous from Switzerland's perspective.
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  #69  
Old 06.10.2015, 11:43
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Simply moving assets abroad (in a legal manner, which by definition includes having it taxed as defined by all applicable laws) doesn't get your assets out of a governments' reach.
Depends on the government in question and depends on whether you're willing to suffer the consequences. Pretty much out of the reach of the government of somewhere like Tonga, but quite likely still in the political reach of a government such as the US or UK. Might makes right.
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In my book that's a direct contradiction to your above statement because, as shown above, "protection from a corrupt regime" necessarily includes tax evasion.
Well, you're entering debatable territory here. If you pay all your taxes and legally transfer your money abroad, then you've not evaded anything.

However, if your government subsequently introduces a law that says you need to pay 90% tax on all your savings, domestic and foreign, then you would indeed be correct. Technically.

However would this be, for lack of a better word, just? After all, the Swiss Federal Act on Banks and Savings Banks was enacted in 1934 largely in response to efforts by the German government to chase down and claim the accounts of German Jews. Legally, at the time, those Jews would indeed have been, by your logic, tax evaders, yet would this have been just - or in light of these laws being revoked in 1945, even legal internationally?

Overall, it's as much a philosophical question as a legal one, but it does mean that your black and white definition is open to question.
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Old 06.10.2015, 12:05
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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However would this be, for lack of a better word, just? After all, the Swiss Federal Act on Banks and Savings Banks was enacted in 1934 largely in response to efforts by the German government to chase down and claim the accounts of German Jews. Legally, at the time, those Jews would indeed have been, by your logic, tax evaders, yet would this have been just - or in light of these laws being revoked in 1945, even legal internationally?

Overall, it's as much a philosophical question as a legal one, but it does mean that your black and white definition is open to question.
Switzerland has the concept of withholding tax. The bank takes a percentage of your interest and gives it to the government without detailing where it comes from.

On your tax form, you can declare that and reclaim that money. However, if you chose not to declare it, you just lose the withholding tax. But as the government comes out ahead, you have not defrauded them, and hence done nothing illegal (it is not illegal to pay too much tax). In the case of say a Jew hiding money from the Nazis, I think that is an acceptable price to pay.

So if Switzerland started doing something similar with all foreign-held accounts, and people had legitimate reasons to hide money (and I very much believe there are legitimate reasons to hide money) then the price they would pay for that would be losing the withholding tax. An acceptable loss I think if you have a legitimate cause.

This way banking secrecy could be preserved while also satisfying taxation demands of foreign governments.
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  #71  
Old 06.10.2015, 12:12
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Switzerland has the concept of withholding tax. The bank takes a pervcentage of your interest and gives it to the government without telling them where it comes from.

On your tax form, you can declare that and reclaim that money. However, if you chose not to declare it, you just lose the withholding tax. But as the government comes out ahead, yopu have not defrauded them, and hence done nothing illegal (it is not illegal to pay too much tax). In the case of say a Jew hiding money from the Nazis, I think that is an acceptable price to pay.

So if Switzerland started doing something similar with all foreign-held accounts, and people had legitimate reasons to hide money (and I very much believe there are legitimate reasons to hide money) then th price they would pay for that would be losing the withholding tax.

This way banking secrecy could be preserved while also satisfying taxation demands of foreign governments.
Accounts for foreigners historically did not pay interest, the account attracted charges as they were providing various services including holding all mail.

As far as withholding tax goes, you may get it all back but have a further liability, which in many countries will exceed the tax withheld.

In ZH you get 0.3% credit for declaring capital as management expenses, so you get a refund for declaring the first 6 million or so.
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  #72  
Old 08.10.2015, 19:00
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Not quite so simple, had you had 1,000,000 in a bank in Cyprus, you would have lost 900,000 just because it was in Cyprus. Had you put that 900,000 in any bank in another country you would still have that 900,000. No cheating or evading taxes.

Do you think Jews living in Germany during the war who hid money in Switzerland were really criminals? The punishment if caught was the death penalty, however if you already fear for your life that's not going to be an issue.

Up until 1979 you could not export money from the UK without permission from the Bank of England. Ok you could go on holiday with £600. Just impose exchange controls..... See how well that goes down, no foreign internet purchases.
The post I replied to mentions corruption as reason for the flight, that doesn't apply to Cyprus. Plus, from what I understand, only deposits were affected by the haircut (which was a bit less than 50% actually), every type of securities (stock, bonds, etc) was spared.

Capital controls at that time were commonplace. I think they were used all over western Europe, including CH.

And thx for the Godwin.
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Old 08.10.2015, 21:39
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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The post I replied to mentions corruption as reason for the flight, that doesn't apply to Cyprus.
So what exactly applies to Cyprus? The Greek financial crisis as well: maybe it's not outright corruption but "only" severe cronyism, the result is the same.
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  #74  
Old 09.10.2015, 15:41
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

I think you could argue refusal is legitimate if forced to stay, but not if you are free to leave, even more so when there's also the option to get politically active to enact change from within. Thus there's not even moral ground to refuse paying taxes on since the whole thing comes as a package you take or leave, there's no picking what you like only.

Btw, who exactly is to say which government is corrupt? You and me? Or Tom Perkins? Well, in that case I declare Switzerland corrupt, which (according to you) makes it legitimate to commit tax fraud.
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  #75  
Old 09.10.2015, 16:06
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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The post I replied to mentions corruption as reason for the flight, that doesn't apply to Cyprus. Plus, from what I understand, only deposits were affected by the haircut (which was a bit less than 50% actually), every type of securities (stock, bonds, etc) was spared.

Capital controls at that time were commonplace. I think they were used all over western Europe, including CH.

And thx for the Godwin.
Why would Stocks or Bonds be due for a haircut, they belong to the registered holder. Cash in a bank belongs to the bank, the account holder is merely an unsecured creditor.

I don't believe Switzerland ever had capital controls, if it had people would have not squirrelled away their money would they? 1000 CHF note is nothing new.
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Old 11.10.2015, 23:47
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Why would Stocks or Bonds be due for a haircut, they belong to the registered holder. Cash in a bank belongs to the bank, the account holder is merely an unsecured creditor.

I don't believe Switzerland ever had capital controls, if it had people would have not squirrelled away their money would they? 1000 CHF note is nothing new.
Capital control is not the same as a ban on capital export, controls can take many forms. They can slow down the flow, make it costly, limit the amount in a given time frame, etc. There are many forms. Since all Bretton Woods countries had them they were nothing to deter money inflow.

Switzerland had lifted all capital flow controls with the dissolution of the Bretton Woods system in 1973 (though some got temporarily re-introduced a few years later), after which the CHF was allowed to float freely against the other currencies.

It would be silly to make free flow of capital one of the four fundamental pillars of the EU treaty if it had been commonplace. Actually the complete lifting of all capital flow controls within the ECU system in 1992/93 upon the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty is said to have caused a severe crisis.
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Old 17.06.2016, 16:00
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

I thought I would share this article highlighting the impact of the more stringent reglations over the past few years. I found it fairly insightful.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl...anking-secrecy

Last edited by JoeUK; 17.06.2016 at 16:34. Reason: re-written in proper English
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Old 17.06.2016, 16:23
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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Reichsmark to Deutsche Mark after WW2 was one, the Euro another... be he did not count the ridiculous exchange rate for worthless savings in Eastern German currency at the unification as the third time?
If you count that you must also count the 1924 (?) replacement of the hyperinflation devastated Reichsmark by a new pegged Reichsmark.

And then of course there is the 1914 transition from Goldmark to Papiermark.

So that's quite a few changes in currency and coinage within a single century.

Of course at the time the present Swiss coinage was introduced (1850s) there wasn't even a Reichsmark in Germany as the Länder used their own currencies, but there was some commonality thanks to the Vereinstaler and later the Latin Monetary Union.
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Old 17.06.2016, 16:51
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Re: The end of banking secrecy for foreigners

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I thought I would share this article highlighting the impact of the more stringent reglations over the past few years. I found it fairly insightful.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl...anking-secrecy
I stopped reading once I saw the first chart:
The only way to make the 6% net loss in jobs look story-worthy is by leaving out the bottom19'000 jobs. Talk about fabricating headlines.
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