Thomas v. UBS AG, No. 12-2724 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, American citizens, had bank accounts in UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, in 2008 when the UBS tax-evasion scandal broke. The accounts were large and the plaintiffs had not disclosed the existence of the accounts or the interest earned on the accounts on their federal income tax returns, as required. Pursuant to an IRS amnesty program, they disclosed the interest and paid a penalty. They brought a class action to recover from UBS the penalties, interest, and other costs, plus profits they claim UBS made from the class as a result of the fraud and other wrongful acts. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, noting that the “plaintiffs are tax cheats,” and rejecting an argument that UBS was obligated to give them accurate tax advice and failed to do so. Plaintiffs did not argue that they asked UBS to advise them on U.S. tax law or that the bank volunteered advice. The court stated that: “This is like suing one’s parents to recover tax penalties one has paid, on the ground that the parents had failed to bring one up to be an honest person who would not evade taxes.” The court noted, but did not decide, choice of law issues.