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Swiss Tax Treaty Change Affects IRA Dividends

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The U.S. Treasury Department and Swiss officials have proposed a tax protocol that could affect taxation of dividends owned by individual retirement savings plans.

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the proposed tax protocol with Switzerland during a recent hearing.

The proposed Swiss protocol modifies a tax treaty and a tax protocol that were signed in 1996.

The proposed protocol would expand a provision banning “source-country taxation of dividends beneficially owned by pension or other retirement arrangements resident in the other treaty country,” Barthold said, according to a written version of his remarks posted by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Under the expanded provision, the ban on source-country taxation of dividends owned by pension plans would apply to “dividends that are beneficially owned by an individual retirement savings plan set up in, and owned by a resident of, the other treaty country.”

The expanded provision would apply to an individual retirement account (IRA) or other individual retirement savings plan if regulators agree that, for tax purposes, the individual retirement savings plan in one country resembles an individual retirement savings plan in the other country.

“The prohibition on source-country taxation is not available if the beneficial owner controls the company paying the dividend,” Barthold says.

- Allison Bell

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