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29 October 2014

The world is getting smaller

Two interest articles have appeared in The Marker (Hebrew) over the last 24 hours.

The first article discusses the fact that the Treasury has agreed to put into place measures necessary to ensure that Israel will be compliant with the OECD's multilateral exchange of information agreement regarding bank account holders by 2018. The agreement, which also includes a number of other countries, essentially means that Israel will be transferring information about bank account holders who live outside Israel to each of the 50 or so countries, and in turn, Israel will receive similar information from each of those countries regarding Israelis holding such accounts.

The second article relates the recent story of a European who wanted to withdraw a significant sum from his Israeli bank account. The bank requested him to sign a declaration that he has fully declared the account and accounted for the taxes in his country of residence. When the customer refused to do so, the bank refused to release the funds.

Between these two articles, we can see how the world is getting smaller and it is getting more difficult to evade taxes without the relevant authorities finding out. Furthermore, the banks and investment houses themselves are starting to act as the world's policemen as they are frightened of serious sanctions - primarily from the US government, but potentially from others as well.

As such, it is highly recommended that one who has hitherto undeclared assets and unreported income take the opportunity to come forward, clear out the past by paying the back taxes due and start reporting everything in full. In Israel, a Voluntary Disclosure scheme was announced just 6 weeks ago (see here for more), and it is highly recommended that anyone in this situation takes the opportunity to straighten their affairs NOW. It will be far better for everyone involved if you make the approach to the tax authority rather than the other way round.

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