If you have a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, or other type of foreign financial account, exceeding certain thresholds, the Bank Secrecy Act may require you to report the account yearly to the Department of Treasury by electronically filing a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). See the ‘Who Must File an FBAR’ section below for additional criteria.
Current FBAR Guidance
FinCEN introduces new forms
On September 30, 2013, FinCEN posted a notice on their website announcing the current FBAR form, FinCEN Report 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. FinCEN Report 114 supersedes the previous years’ form TD F 90-22.1 and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. The e-filing system allows the filer to enter the calendar year reported, including past years, on the online FinCEN Report 114. It also offers filers an option to “explain a late filing” or to select “Other” and enter up to 750-characters within a text box to provide a further explanation of the late filing or to indicate whether the filing is made in conjunction with an IRS compliance program.
On July 29, 2013, FinCEN posted a notice on their website introducing a new report to filers who submit FBARs jointly with spouses or who wish to have a third party preparer file their FBARs on their behalf. The new FinCEN Report 114a, Record of Authorization to Electronically File FBARs, is not submitted when filing an FBAR but, instead, is kept in FBAR records maintained by the filer and the account owner, and must be made available to FinCEN or IRS upon request.
Filing deferral for certain individuals with signature authority only, effective through June 30, 2016
FinCEN Notice 2014-1 extended the due date for filing FBARs by certain individuals with signature authority over, but no financial interest in, foreign financial accounts of their employer or a closely related entity, to June 30, 2016.
U.S. Taxpayers Holding Foreign Financial Assets May Also Need to File Form 8938
Taxpayers with specified foreign financial assets that exceed certain thresholds must report those assets to the IRS on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, which is filed with an income tax return. Those foreign financial assets could include foreign accounts reported on an FBAR. The Form 8938 filing requirement is in addition to the FBAR filing requirement. A chart providing a comparison of Form 8938 and FBAR requirements may be accessed on the IRS Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act Web page.
Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program
On January 9, 2012, the IRS reopened its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program following continued interest from taxpayers and tax practitioners after the closure of the 2011 and 2009 programs. This program offers people with unreported taxable income from offshore financial accounts or other foreign assets an opportunity to fulfill their tax and information reporting obligations, including the FBAR. Although the program does not have a closing date, the IRS may end the program at any time.
Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures
On September 1, 2012, the IRS implemented new streamlined filing compliance procedures that were available only to non-resident U.S. taxpayers who failed to file required U.S. income tax returns. Taxpayer submissions were subject to different degrees of review based on the amount of tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a risk questionnaire.
On June 18, 2014, the IRS announced the expansion of these procedures. The expanded procedures are available to a wider population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the country and, for the first time, certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States; reference IR-2014-73. For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing outside the United States, all penalties will be waived. For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States, the only penalty will be a miscellaneous offshore penalty equal to five percent of the foreign financial assets that gave rise to the tax compliance issue. For more information, go to Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures.
Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures
Taxpayers who have not filed a required FBAR and are not under a civil examination or a criminal investigation by the IRS, and have not already been contacted by the IRS about a delinquent FBAR, should file any delinquent FBARs according to the FBAR instructions and include a statement explaining why the filing is late. All FBARs are required to be filed electronically through FinCEN’s BSA E-Filing System. Select a reason for filing late on the cover page of the electronic form or enter a customized explanation using the ‘Other’ option. If unable to file electronically you may contact FinCEN’s Regulatory Helpline at 800-949-2732 or 703-905-3975 (if calling from outside the United States) to determine acceptable alternatives to electronic filing.
The IRS will not impose a penalty for the failure to file the delinquent FBARs if income from the foreign financial accounts reported on the delinquent FBARs is properly reported and taxes are paid on your U.S. tax return, and you have not previously been contacted regarding an income tax examination or a request for delinquent returns for the years for which the delinquent FBARs are submitted.