The author of this article, MLaw Dr. phil. Tetyana Miller, is legal counsel at Dr. J. Bollag & Cie. AG .
What to do if you forget to report income or assets on your tax return in Switzerland?
There are situations, when you negligently or deliberately make a false or incomplete statement of your income or assets in your tax declaration. It often happens to persons who possess expensive art objects and jewelry collections, foreign equity, bank accounts or real estate. Sometimes heirs discover that the assets of the deceased person have not been declared. If Swiss tax authorities obtain such tax-related data from domestic or foreign sources that are based on double taxation agreements or automatic information exchange, they may qualify such false statements as tax evasion or tax fraud and impose penalties.
To avoid criminal proceedings and fines, it is important for a taxpayer to make a spontaneous denunciation before the tax authority has become aware of the undeclared income and assets. In case of voluntary self-denunciation, only the ordinary additional tax for ten years preceding the spontaneous denunciation will be levied.
You can avoid tax penalties if the voluntary disclosure of the tax evasion is filed for the first time and the following conditions are met:
- the tax evasion is not known to any authority
- you support the tax authority unconditionally in the assessment of the additional tax
- you make a serious effort to pay the tax owed.
If these requirements are not met, exemption from penalties is excluded and the fine will be determined according to the degree of fault. Usually, the fine for tax evasion is equal to the amount of tax evaded, but it can be increased up to three times the amount of unpaid taxes.
There are no formal requirements or special forms for the spontaneous self-denunciation. It can be filed at any time in the form of a letter to the cantonal or regional tax administration or submitted with the current tax return. However, a reference to the previously incomplete declaration must be made explicitly. The self-denunciation does not need to be justified, but all relevant documents should over the last 10 years should be enclosed, such as end-year statements of bank accounts and securities, life insurance policies, for real estate abroad – a copy of purchase agreement, certificate of value, receipts for mortgage debt and interest.
A first-time self-disclosure in relation to legal persons also leads to an exemption from penalty under similar conditions.
We offer tax advice for individuals and companies and can support you with self-denunciation.
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