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FAQ
Qualified Intermediary (QI)

FAQ - General questions
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What is the QI Regime?

As a means to help counter tax evasion from the United States, the United States Internal Revenue Service (the "IRS") introduced in 2001 the Qualified Intermediary Agreement ("QIA"). It is the first agreement that linked non-U.S. banks and other financial intermediaries of the whole word to the IRS, via a withholding tax regime (hereafter referred to as the "QI Regime"). A revised edition of the QIA has been introduced in 2014.

The QI Regime is a simplified scheme of taxation and declaration of revenues derived from U.S. securities ("U.S revenues") received by a private person via a non-U.S. financial intermediary and aims to, firstly, identify nonU.S. Persons and, secondly, apply the correct conventional tax rate on the U.S. revenues received by non-U.S Persons.

What is a Qualified Intermediary?

A Qualified Intermediary ("QI") is a non-U.S. financier intermediary, which has signed a QIA with the IRS in order to facilitate the management and the perception of withholding taxes of U.S. revenues.

As a QI, Swissquote Bank (hereafter referred to as "the Bank" or "we") is acting as an intermediary between the IRS and its clients receiving U.S. revenues.

What are the advantages of being a Qualified Intermediary?

As a QI, the Bank enables its clients to benefit from the reduced tax rate as foreseen by the applicable tax convention.

What are the obligations of a Qualified Intermediary?

In return of offering a reduced tax regime to its clients, a QI, as the Bank, commits to respect strict rules and obligations, including: (i) collecting documentation provided by its clients, (ii) client’s data management, (iii) correct implementation of the withholding rates to each of its clients, (iv) submission of an annual report to the IRS and (v) management of an internal compliance program and its internal and external review.

What will happen if I do not provide this documentation to the Bank?

If you fail to provide us with the necessary information required under the QI Regime when you request the opening of an account or whenever the Bank is asking to renew your account’s documentation, you will not benefit from the reduced tax rate for your U.S. revenues as foreseen by the tax convention applicable in you residency country.

Consequently, your U.S. revenues will be taxed at a 30% rate.

What if I am uncertain as to where I am resident for tax purposes?

The rules on tax residence are complex, and it is possible to be resident in more than one jurisdiction for tax purposes (although if there is a Double Tax Treaty in place between the respective jurisdictions, this can often determine which jurisdiction you are deemed to be tax resident in).

Please note that the mere ownership of real estate in a jurisdiction (e.g. a holiday home) does not necessarily mean that you are tax resident in that jurisdiction.

If you are in any doubt as to where you are tax resident, you should contact your tax advisor.

What information will be reported to the IRS ?

The Bank reports to the IRS, on an annual basis, information concerning its client’s U.S. revenues perceived throughout the calendar year. In general, these financial values are provided in an aggregate form and specific information on client’s accounts are not reported.

What happens if my circumstances change?

You are required to inform us of any changes to your circumstances that might have an impact on the information that would be reported under the QI Regime. For example, this includes in a non-exhaustive way (i) any change to your residence or nationality, (ii) any change to your Tax Identification Number (TIN) and (iii), in the case of an entity, any changes of Controlling Persons or any changes in the residence or nationality of any Controlling Persons.

What purpose will the information reported be used for?

Generally, the information reported may only be made available to the IRS and may only be used for tax purposes

How does the QI Regime affect my confidentiality?

Data protection and confidentiality are a key part of the QI Regime. There are detailed rules which provide for strong data safeguards to be in place before Switzerland entered into a QIA with the IRS. The information can only be used for tax purposes

We will respect your data privacy. We will only disclose your information if we are legally required to do so.

How does the QI Regime interact with FATCA?

The QI Regime does not affect the operation of FATCA because the two regimes will run simultaneously.

Where can I find further information on the QI Regime?

Further information on the QI Regime can be found on the IRS website - QI portal.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of the QI Regime on you, you should contact your tax advisor.