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A quick way for UBS clients to fess up

People enter and leave the building of Swiss Bank UBS in Midtown Manhattan

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: There's a new link on the Swiss bank UBS Web site. A form where American clients can go to voluntarily share their secret account information to the IRS. UBS agreed to a legal settlement to reveal the identities of about 4,500 clients. People the United States suspects of illegally hiding assets. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports.


Mitchell Hartman: With secret account information supplied by the Swiss, the IRS will go after tax evaders using auditors who usually investigate shady international business dealings.

Joel Slemrod directs the University of Michigan's Office of Tax Policy Research. He says it's a matter of following the money.

Joel Slemrod: If Mr. X has got a foreign bank account on which the income is not being reported, it's not just a matter of the money being under his name, but there might be a complex set of shell corporations and other devices to camouflage what's going on.

Tax-evaders have until September 23 to fess up voluntarily and pay reduced penalties. But it could be risky, says Slemrod, for people whose own accounts are interwoven with other secret accounts and sham corporations.

Slemrod: You might keep your fingers crossed that you're not on this list or won't be discovered from what the IRS learns.

The UBS cases could ultimately number 10,000. And that's only the beginning: government auditors are also turning their sights on other international tax havens where Americans hide their wealth from the taxman.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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