On 1 March 2016, the Switzerland State Secretariat for Financial Matters (SIF) announced the signing of an agreement between the competent authorities of Switzerland and the United States regarding a new FATCA exception clause for certain accounts held by lawyers or notaries.

With this exception clause, accounts maintained for specific purposes (e.g., accounts for specific activities protected by professional confidentiality laws) by lawyers or notaries will be excluded from the scope of the application of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). As a result of this exception, the financial institution maintaining the account will not have to identify the clients of lawyers or notaries, provided the lawyers or notaries confirm in writing to the financial institution that the accounts meet the requirements outlined within the exception clause. This new exception will help to ensure that the professional confidentiality of lawyers and notaries will be maintained under Swiss law.

The Swiss Banker’s Association (SBA) is already working to amend the Form R to consider this new information. As soon as the form is amended and approved by FINMA, it will be released via circular to the members of the SBA.