If you had any interest in a foreign financial account at any time during calendar year 2012, you may have an obligation to file an FBAR by June 30, 2013!
U.S. persons having 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 may be required by the Bank Secrecy Act to report their interest in the account to the IRS by filing Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). A U.S. person may have a reporting obligation even though the foreign financial account does not generate any income.
If a U.S. person had such a financial interest or signature authority at any time during calendar year 2012, the FBAR must be received by the Department of the Treasury on or before June 30, 2013. The FBAR is not filed with the federal income tax return. The granting by the IRS of an extension to file federal income tax returns does not extend the due date for filing an FBAR. The June 30th filing date may not be extended.
FBAR filers report their foreign accounts by (1) completing boxes 7a and 7b on Form 1040 Schedule B; box 3 on the Form 1041 “Other Information” section; box 10 on Form 1065 Schedule B; or boxes 6a and 6b on Form 1120 Schedule N and filing the FBAR, satisfies the account holder’s reporting obligation. Even if all relevant information is not available, the FBAR should be filed with as much information as is available; the FBAR can be later amended (by checking the “Amended” box in the upper right corner of the first page of the FBAR) when the additional or new information becomes available.
A United States person having a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account must file an FBAR if the aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. A United States person includes U.S. citizens; U.S. residents; entities, including but not limited to, corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies created or organized in the U.S. or under the laws of the U. S.; and trusts or estates formed under the laws of the United States.
The term “person” means an individual and legal entities including, but not limited to, a limited liability company, corporation, partnership, trust, and estate. A U.S. resident includes an alien residing in the United States. To determine whether the U.S. person is a resident of the U.S., look for guidance in the residency tests set forth in 26 U.S.C. §7701(b).
A single-member LLC, which is a disregarded entity for U.S. tax purposes, is a U.S. person for FBAR filing purposes since the tax rules concerning disregarded entities do not apply with respect to the FBAR reporting requirement (FBARs are required under Title 31, not under any provisions of the Internal Revenue Code).
Financial Account. A financial account includes, but is not limited to, a securities, brokerage, savings, demand, checking, deposit, time deposit, or other account maintained with a financial institution (or other person performing the services of a financial institution). A financial account also includes a commodity futures or options account, an insurance policy with a cash value (such as a whole life insurance policy), an annuity policy with a cash value, and shares in a mutual fund or similar pooled fund (i.e., a fund that is available to the general public with a regular net asset value determination and regular redemptions).
Foreign Financial Account. A foreign financial account is a financial account located outside of the United States. For example, an account maintained with a branch of a United States bank that is physically located outside of the United States is a foreign financial account. An account maintained with a branch of a foreign bank that is physically located in the United States is not a foreign financial account. A “foreign country” includes all geographical areas outside the United States, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories and possessions of the United States (including Guam, American Samoa, and the United States Virgin Islands).
Financial Interest. A U.S. person has a financial interest in a foreign financial account for which:
(1) the U.S. person is the owner of record or holder of legal title, regardless of whether the account is maintained for the benefit of the U.S. person or for the benefit of another person; or
(2) the owner of record or holder of legal title is one of the following: (a) An agent, nominee, attorney, or a person acting in some other capacity on behalf of the U.S. person with respect to the account; (b) A corporation in which the U.S. person owns directly or indirectly: (i) more than 50 percent of the total value of shares of stock or (ii) more than 50 percent of the voting power of all shares of stock; (c) A partnership in which the U.S. person owns directly or indirectly: (i) an interest in more than 50 percent of the partnership’s profits (e.g., distributive share of partnership income taking into account any special allocation agreement) or (ii) an interest in more than 50 percent of the partnership capital; (d) A trust of which the U.S. person: (i) is the trust grantor and (ii) has an ownership interest in the trust for U.S. federal tax purposes [See 26 U.S.C. § 671-679 to determine if a grantor has an ownership interest in a trust]; (e) A trust in which the U.S. person has a greater than 50 percent present beneficial interest in the assets or income of the trust for the calendar year, unless the trust, a trustee of the trust, or agent of the trust: (i) is a U. S. person and (ii) files an FBAR disclosing the trust’s foreign financial accounts.; or (f) Any other entity in which the U.S. person owns directly or indirectly more than 50 percent of the voting power, total value of equity interest or assets, or interest in profits.
Signature Authority. Signature authority is the authority of an individual (alone or in conjunction with another individual) to control the disposition of assets held in a foreign financial account by direct communication (whether in writing or otherwise) to the bank or other financial institution that maintains the financial account. Other authority exists in a person who can exercise power that is comparable to signature authority over an account by direct communication to the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained, either orally or by some other means. There are specified exceptions to the “signature authority only” filing requirement for officers or employees of certain types of banks and entities.
Where to File. The FBAR is filed by mailing to: Department of the Treasury, Post Office Box 32621, Detroit, MI 48232-0621. If an express delivery service is used, file by sending the FBAR to: IRS Enterprise Computing Center ATTN: CTR Operations Mailroom, 4th Floor, 985 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226. Delivery messenger service contact telephone number: (313) 234-1062.
The FBAR instructions indicate that it may be hand delivered to any local office of the IRS for forwarding to the Department of the Treasury, Detroit, MI. The FBAR may also be delivered to the IRS’s tax attaches located in United States embassies and consulates for forwarding to the Department of the Treasury, Detroit, MI. The FBAR is not considered filed until it is received by the Department of the Treasury in Detroit, MI. The FBAR form and instructions are available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f90221.pdf
Electronic Filing of the FBAR. On June 29, 2011, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that all FinCEN forms must be filed electronically with certain exceptions. However, the FBAR was granted a general exemption from mandatory electronic filing through June 30, 2013. E-filers will receive an acknowledgement of each submission. Currently, the government only has the ability to accept FBAR e-filings when one signature is required. Although the FBAR instructions state that a spouse included as a joint owner, who does not file a separate FBAR, must also sign the FBAR in Item 44, the e-filing process will not yet allow for both signatures on the same electronic form. As such, if spouses desire to e-file regarding a jointly owned account, each spouse must e-file a separate FBAR. Information regarding and registration for e-filing of an FBAR is available at http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/nr/html/20110717.html
Verification of FBAR Filing. Ninety days after the date of filing, the filer can request verification that the FBAR was received. An FBAR filing verification request may be made by calling 866-270-0733 and selecting option 1. Up to five documents may be verified over the phone. There is no fee for this verification.
Alternatively, an FBAR filing verification request may be made in writing and must include the filer’s name, taxpayer identification number and the filing period. There is a $5 fee for verifying five or fewer FBARs and a $1 fee for each additional FBAR. A copy of the filed FBAR can be obtained at a cost of $0.15 per page. Check or money order should be made payable to the United States Treasury. The request and payment should be mailed to: IRS Enterprise Computing Center/Detroit, ATTN: Verification, P.O. Box 32063, Detroit, MI 48232.
No Extension of Time to File FBAR. There is no extension of time available for filing an FBAR. Extensions of time to file federal tax returns do NOT extend the time for filing an FBAR. If a delinquent FBAR is filed, attach a statement explaining the reason for the late filing.
Failure to File the FBAR. The failure to timely file the FBAR can be subject to civil penalties and possibly criminal sanctions (i.e., imprisonment). The civil penalties might be $10,000 per year but a willful failure to file could be subject to civil penalties equivalent to the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the balance in an unreported foreign account, per year, for up to six tax years. Penalties might be avoided if there is reasonable cause for the failure to timely file the FBAR.
Record Keeping Requirements. Persons required to file an FBAR must retain records that contain the name in which each account is maintained, the number or other designation of the account, the name and address of the foreign financial institution that maintains the account, the type of account, and the maximum account value of each account during the reporting period. The records must be retained for a period of 5 years from June 30th of the year following the calendar year reported and must be available for inspection as provided by law. Retaining a copy of the filed FBAR can help to satisfy the record keeping requirements.
Separate Reporting Requirements by U.S. Taxpayers Holding Foreign Financial Assets (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. The Form 8938 filing requirement does not replace or otherwise affect the requirement to file FBAR. A chart providing a comparison of Form 8938 and FBAR requirements, and other information to help taxpayers determine if they are required to file Form 8938, may be accessed from the IRS Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act Web page http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Comparison-of-Form-8938-and-FBAR-Requirements .
Questions. Assistance regarding the filing of an FBAR is available by telephone at 866-270-0733 (toll-free within the U.S.) or 313-234-6146 (from outside the U.S., not toll-free) from 8 a.m.—4:30 p.m. Eastern time, or by sending an e-mail to FBARquestions@irs.gov. Additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/FAQs-Regarding-Report-of-Foreign-Bank-and-Financial-Accounts-(FBAR)—Filing-Requirements#FR5