Oct 07, 2022
Most of the time, this is still true. Swiss banks are known for being safe and private. But people from other countries who use personal banking services should know that things have changed in the past few years. The Swiss Banking Law of 1934 said that Swiss banks couldn't tell who had an account. These protections are why bank customers worldwide like Swiss bank accounts so much. They are like the rules about privacy between a doctor and a patient or an attorney and a client. Still, Swiss bank accounts might be good for Americans. The country's political and economic stability is not based on its ability to be a tax haven, and you can set up your accounts in a way that makes it hard for others to go after your assets.
Swiss banks have kept account information secret since the beginning. In 1932, two people who worked for a big Swiss bank were arrested. This led to the Swiss Federal Banking Act of 1934. So, bankers can be charged with a crime if they talk about their private clients or say they have client accounts. Over time, people have used the privacy of Swiss banks to hide Nazi money, protect the assets of people who were being persecuted, and stay out of sight in many other ways. Numbered accounts, which can only be found by their number on the inside, are the most private.
There are both good and bad things about how private Swiss bank accounts are. Even if you do everything by the book, you may still want more privacy. Wealthy people might want to stay out of the public eye, so they don't get sued or get other unwanted attention. It's common knowledge that these accounts can protect you in this way. But people also use Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes or doing other illegal things. People have been arguing for a long time about which protections should be weakened, and some changes have been made over the years.
In the past, people tried to hide money from the police, creditors, and tax authorities by putting it in a Swiss bank account. In movies, bad guys use Swiss bank accounts to accept wire payments and hide. But you can't protect your assets if you break the law in Switzerland. Swiss banks are criticized and pressured to work with foreign governments that want to get more tax money, fight terrorism, and cut down on fraud.
It is harder to avoid paying taxes because of the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). FATCA is a U.S. law, but Swiss banks have agreed to share information about account holders in the U.S., probably because of the harsh penalties for not following the law. Having assets outside the United States is not against the law, but U.S. taxpayers must report these accounts, which could cause tax problems.
Having a Swiss bank account doesn't protect most U.S. citizens much from creditors. When U.S. courts make civil and criminal decisions, Swiss banks have to follow them. This makes them almost useless for staying out of trouble with the law, washing money, or hiding stolen money. Victor J. Medina, CFP, an attorney and financial planner who specializes in estate planning and asset protection, says that people can protect their assets even more by putting them in entities like trusts and LLCs that are located in places other than the U.S. This means that decisions would have to be made in those particular areas.
If you know your limits and still want to move forward, you should be ready for a long process. You aren't making an online bank account; the job will take many hours and hundreds of pages of paperwork.
Swiss banks research new clients before opening accounts, as they're closely watched and could be fined. You'll also need a passport and proof of money source. Private bankers need to know how money is made. When making large deposits, you may need to show bank statements and contracts.
To ensure banks know their customers and where their money comes from. Think you can walk into a Swiss bank and open an account? Instead, do research and talk to people before opening an account. Know the issues banks have with Americans.
Foreigners rarely have bank accounts in Switzerland. You can use debit and credit cards, but private Swiss accounts are safer and keep your information private. Using debit cards or checks in public reveals that you have a Swiss bank account. This hurts your privacy.