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Austria Eyes Tax Information Exchange Negotiations

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

17 April 2013

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has recently confirmed the Government's "clear position" on banking secrecy, insisting that Austria is willing to enter into negotiations with the European Union (EU) on the automatic exchange of bank deposit information.

Chancellor Faymann made clear however that banking secrecy is to remain firmly in place and "untouched" for Austrians, while agreeing that the banking data of foreign clients with accounts held in Austria must in future be exchanged more swiftly. This is to enable both the foreign tax authorities in the taxpayer’s country of residence and the European Union (EU) to combat tax fraud and tax evasion effectively, Faymann emphasized. He stressed that "no-one in the EU" is demanding that Austria abolish its traditional banking secrecy.

The Austrian Chancellor conceded that the details of such plans have yet to be negotiated with the EU, alluding to the fact that there are various models that could be applied. These include information exchange on a case-by-case basis and an automatic exchange of bank information, Faymann noted, underscoring that Austria favors "the most sensible solution."

Faymann rejected the idea that Austria will ultimately be forced to relinquish its banking secrecy, as foreign account holders demand equal treatment with their Austrian counterparts. Experts have already confirmed that a distinction can be made between foreign and domestic account holders, Faymann said. Any EU resident with assets deposited in an Austrian bank must expect to be treated in the same way as all other EU citizens, Faymann ended.

TAGS: compliance | tax | tax compliance | tax avoidance | banking | banking secrecy | Austria | European Union (EU) | Europe

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