A former Credit Suisse banker who had £57,000 taken from her bank account by her employer to comply with the requirements of the UK-Swiss tax cooperation agreement has lost a claim in the High Court for a refund of most of the levy from HMRC.
As a result, HMRC will not have to refund £57,865 to UK resident Karin Vrang, a Swedish national obtained from her Swiss bank account.
The money was taken from Ms Vrang’s account without her permission after she failed to respond appropriately to messages from Credit Suisse and HMRC. The amount was taken as part of a deal between UK and Swiss authorities, which allowed individuals to remain anonymous in exchange for a levy of a proportional amount from their account.
The banker worked in Switzerland for Credit Suisse Asset Management between 1998 and 2005, when she moved to London to take up residency. She had three bank accounts in Switzerland with Credit Suisse, into which she put her earnings while there as well as her encashed Swiss pension. The money in those accounts was to be used when she retired to Sweden.
Ms Vrang’s complaint was that the money was “wrongly levied”. She asserted that the HMRC should pay back the difference between the amount taken from her account as part of the levy and the amount originally due in tax, which reportedly amounted to between £1,000 and £7,000.
In her witness statement, Ms Vrang said that she did not think the UK/Swiss agreement was “aimed at those who, like her, were not tax evaders, had no tax advisers, paid their taxes and expected to be treated fairly".
She said she also thought that, were the HMRC enforcing a debt from a UK taxpayer in the UK by taking money from his bank account, “there would have been greater safeguards for the taxpayer, including a face-to-face visit.”
The High Court ruling, however, declared that “it was [Vrang’s] fault that the levy was taken because she had failed to deal with perfectly clear correspondence.”
A statement from the Revenue said: “HMRC welcomes the court’s decision, which highlights the importance of giving offshore financial matters close attention and seeking appropriate advice to ensure you pay the right amount at the right time.”
Ms Vrang said she would appeal against the judgement.