NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Internal Revenue Service announced Wednesday that it has reached a deal with the Swiss government, gaining access to thousands of UBS AG accounts that Americans might have used to avoid paying taxes.
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that it had gained access to about 5,000 UBS accounts held by rich American investors. In a teleconference with reporters, Shulman said these accounts have held $18 billion in assets at one time, though he did not have a current tally for their value.
The announcement is the result of a settlement that the IRS and Switzerland-based UBS reached earlier this month to track down and identify wealthy Americans who have avoided paying taxes by hiding their assets in offshore accounts. Shulman said the deal should deter Americans from evading taxes in the future.
"Thousands of taxpayers who avoided paying taxes in the past are being brought into compliance," said Shulman. "As this agreement demonstrates, the world of international taxes has drastically changed."
Shulman said that investors can still "get right with their" government by reporting their tax activity by the Sept. 23 voluntary disclosure deadline.