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Switzerland's Supreme Court Permits Dutch Tax Info Request

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

21 September 2016


Switzerland's Supreme Court has overturned the decision of a lower court preventing information on bank accounts held by Dutch citizens with UBS to be sent to the Netherlands tax authority.

Upholding an appeal by a Dutch client of Swiss bank UBS in March 2016, the Federal Administrative Court blocked the request for administrative assistance under the 2010 Swiss-Netherlands double tax treaty because certain details were absent in the Dutch tax authority's request.

The Dutch tax authorities (Belastingdienst) submitted a request for administrative assistance on the basis of the tax treaty in respect of UBS banking details on July 23, 2015. However, Belastingdienst failed to disclose any client names and indicated only the criteria for identifying the UBS clients covered by the request. The court therefore ruled that such anonymous group requests were impermissible under the terms of the tax treaty.

However, in its decision of September 12, the Supreme Court said that the request provided enough detail to allow the individual account holders to be identified, even though they were not specifically named, and therefore did not amount to a fishing expedition.

The Supreme Court pointed out that the Swiss-Dutch tax treaty allows information exchange in tax matters "to the greatest extent possible" short of fishing expeditions, and argued that sufficient conditions were met within the bounds of the treaty to allow the Swiss authorities to act on the request.

TAGS: court | tax | double tax agreement (DTA) | Netherlands | law | banking | tax authority | Switzerland

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