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Australia set to get access to Swiss bank accounts

Treasury is taking submissions on a revised tax treaty with Switzerland, which will see Swiss banks hand over secretive bank account information to Australian authorities on request.

The new treaty means Australian tax evaders with undisclosed Swiss bank accounts will now rely on limited bank secrecy protection from the European nation, notorious for its status as a tax haven.

The Australian Tax Office will seek details of secret bank accounts through an exchange of information clause introduced in the treaty, which is being changed for the first time since it was signed in 1980.

The new treaty is limited in that it does not provide for automatic exchange of information, which has been endorsed by the OECD as the new standard.

This means officials cannot trawl for potential evaders but only ask for specific accounts.

It will also not apply to tax evaders who have already closed their accounts.


According to the ATO, about $41 billion moved between Australia and Switzerland last financial year, with the average transaction worth just under a quarter of a million dollars.

Treasury is calling on all interested parties to make a submission on the draft by June 18.

''The revised treaty aims to align the bilateral tax arrangements more closely with current Australian and international treaty policy settings,'' a statement said.

The treaty will enter into force after both countries have completed their respective domestic requirements.