Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Questions Answered

The Bank Secrecy Act demands that anyone with 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, reports to the IRS by filling Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Why File FBAR?

Some people use foreign financial accounts to get around United States law, and the FBARs areused to identify such persons for the reason that foreign financial institutions may not be subject to the same reporting requirements as domestic financial institutions. FBARs are used by investigators to help discover any income maintained or generated abroad that isn’t reported.

The FBAR was amended and final regulations published on February 24, 2011 by the Treasury Department and they came into effect a month later, on March 28, 2011. The regulations apply to FBARs that were required to be filed with respect to not only foreign financial accounts maintained in 2010 calendar year but also in respect to all subsequent years. The FBAR form and instruction has since been amended to reflect the revisions made by the final regulations

To help provide administrative reprieve for specific individuals with signature authority over but no financial interest in foreign financial accounts, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a notice on May 31, 2011 that was later revised on June 6, 2011.

Who Should File FBAR?

Employees or officers of entities under 31 CFR § 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v) who had signature or other authority over and no financial interest in foreign financial accounts of controlled persons of that entity. Also, employees or officer of controlled individuals of entities under 31 CFR § 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v) who have signatures or other form of authority over and without financial concern in foreign financial accounts of the entities, the controlled persons, or other controlled persons of the entities, had The deadline of reporting signature authority extended to June 30, 2012. A controlled person is a United States or foreign entity more than 50 percent owned (directly or indirectly) by an entity under 31 CFR § 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v).

The deadline of filing the FBAR for individuals with signature authority but without financial interest whose filing requirements were properly deferred under Notice 2009-62 or Notice 2010-23, were notified on June 16, 2011 that their deadline for filing the FBAR had been extended to November 1, 2011. The extension was only applicable to the 2009 and earlier calendar years.

Another notice was issued by FinCEN on June 17, 2011 to June 30, 2012. This was aimed to facilitate more precise conformity with FBAR filing requirements. The June notice was aimed at providing administrative relief for certain officers or employees of venture advisors registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission with no financial interest in certain foreign financial accounts but with signatures or other form of authority.

To file an FBAR, one must be a United States Person with a financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account situated outside the U.S. Also, the cumulative value of all foreign financial accounts ought to surpass $10,000 at any time for the period of the calendar year.

In this case, a U.S. person can be U.S. citizens, populace, body, including but not limited to joint venture, corporations, or limited liability companies created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States.

Are There Any Exemptions?

There are some filing exceptions to the FBAR reporting, they are available in the FBAR instructions. The following persons in the United State or foreign accounts are exempted from filing the FBAR. The FBAR instructions contain information on the eligibility for an exception as well as exception requirements.

A joint FBAR that include United States persons.
International financial institution that own foreign financial accounts
Beneficiaries and owners of the IRA
Nostro or Correspondent accounts
Certain foreign financial accounts that are jointly owned by spouses
Foreign financial accounts maintained on a United States military banking facility.
Some individuals without financial interest in a foreign account but have signature authority
Tax-qualified retirement plans beneficiaries and participants
Government-entity owned financial accounts
Trust beneficiaries.

Even though foreign accounts may not produce taxable income, persons with such accounts may still have a reporting obligation. An account holder’s obligation can be confirmed by checking the appropriate block on FBAR- linked federal tax return or information return questions like the one indicated on Schedule B of Form 1040, the “Other Information” section of Form 1041, Schedule B of Form 1065, and Schedule N of Form 1120) and filing the FBAR.

Are There Any Differences Between Filing FBAR and Federal Returns?

The FBAR is filed separately from the filer’s federal income tax return. The IRS may grant an extension to file federal income tax returns but that doesn’t affect the due date of filing an FBAR. The filing of the FBAR is not extendable as it must be received by June 30, of the year following the calendar year being reported. One can file by mailing it to either the United States Department of the Treasury or by express mailing to the IRS Enterprise Computing Center located on 985 Michigan Avenue

Civil penalties, criminal penalties, or both may be subjected to account holders who fail to conform to the FBAR reporting requirements.

Can FBAR Forms Be Filed Electronically?

E-filing is a quicker and efficient way to file FBAR. An electronic filing system that accepts the FBAR forms was announced by FinCEN on July 18, 2011. Online filers are supposed to receive acknowledgement from the system after each submission.

How Do I Access FBAR Customer Service?

More information and help on the filing of the FBAR can be accessed from the IRS website or any of the 400 IRS centers. The FBAR form is also available to download from the Financial Crimes Enforcement website.

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