Global Tax Insights
FBAR FAQsNovember 14, 2019
Foreign Financial Account holders, your Foreign Bank Accounts Report (FBAR) is due April 15th. Read up on some FAQs.
Do you have foreign financial accounts (FFA)? Any U.S. person with a FFA must report their accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) on FinCEN Form 114 also known as the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR). Here are some common FAQs about the FBAR.
- If my account does not generate any taxable income, do I still have to report it?
Yes, anyone with FFAs must report them on the FBAR. If you have a financial interest in, signature authority or other authority over one or more accounts (bank accounts, brokerage accounts, mutual funds, etc.) in a foreign country and the aggregate value of all FFAs exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year you have a filing requirement.
- Who is considered a U.S. person?
A U.S. person is any citizen or resident of the U.S or any domestic legal entity (i.e. partnership, corporation, Limited Liability Company, estate or trust).
- What is considered a foreign country?
A foreign country includes any area outside the U.S., Indian lands and the following U.S. territories and possessions- Northern Mariana Islands, District of Columbia, American Somoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands and Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.
- When is the FBAR due?
The FBAR is due April 15th (or the next business day if it falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday). If you miss this deadline, you must file by October 15, the automatically extended due date for the FBAR.
- What if you own a joint account?
In a jointly-owned account, all persons with a financial interest in that account must report the entire value of the account on their FBAR.
- Do spouses need to file separate FBARs?
Spouses do not need to file separate FBARs if…
- All reportable FFAs of the non-filing spouse are jointly owned with the filing spouse
- The filing spouse reports all jointly owned accounts on the FBAR (on time).
- The filing spouse submits a joint FBAR.
- How do you file the FBAR?
You must file the FBAR electronically using the BSA e-filing system. If you’re unable to e-file, you are required to request an exemption from e-filing from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s Regulatory Helpline at 800-949-2732 (703-905-3985 for those outside the U.S.)
- What accounts are not reported on the FBAR?
FFAs held in individual retirement accounts, tax qualified retirement plans, and foreign stock not held in a financial account amongst others do not need to be reported.
- How do you report the value of your FFA?
During the calendar year, FBAR filers must reasonably figure and report the greatest value of currency or non-monetary asset in their accounts. If their periodic account statements fairly shows the greatest account value during the year, they can rely on them for the amount.
- Can you amend the FBAR?
Yes but you must file a new FBAR with the corrected information and mark it as “Amended”. Note that all fields must be filled in, even those that don’t need corrections. You can e-file the amended FBAR through the BSA system.
- What are the penalties for failing to file?
If you fail to file, you are subject to either a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each negligent violation (non-willful violation) or a civil penalty of up to $100,000 or 50% of the balance of the account at the time of the purposeful violation (willful violation). Willful violations can also result in criminal penalties.
- What are the record keeping requirements?
Filers must keep records of accounts for typically five years from the FBAR due date and include the name on each account, account number, name and address of the foreign bank, type of account and greatest value of each account during the reporting period.
Questions on FBAR filing? Reach out to us.