To ensure that U.S. taxpayers properly report and pay taxes on funds held in foreign accounts, the IRS now requires "U.S. persons" to submit a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) filing on an annual basis. The report is only necessary if the aggregate value of the accounts is greater than $10,000 (USD) at any time during the tax year.
The filing requirements apply to U.S. persons which includes among other things, citizens of the United States, green card holders and U.S. residents, domestic partnerships, domestic corporations and domestic trusts. It is very important to be aware that there are NO special rules for minors; as a result minors who meet the listed criteria must also submit a FBAR filing. Only U.S. persons with a financial interest and/or signature authority over the foreign account must file an FBAR.
The IRS has provided specific direction on what qualifies as a foreign financial account. Qualifying accounts include bank accounts (savings, checking, deposits), securities or brokerage accounts, mutual funds, debit and prepaid credit cards, annuities and pension plans, retirement plans, interests in partnerships, trust and pass through entities with foreign accounts, and insurance policies with a cash surrender value.
There are currently two categories of penalties applicable to FBARs including willful and non-willful violations. Regardless of the category, the IRS assesses penalties on a per account basis and not on a per filing basis. So, one individual could face a large fine based on the number of accounts they control. Penalties are generally assessed for each year there is a violation. Civil penalties range from fines of $10,000 per year to levies of up to 50% of the actual account balances per year.
Our professionals have significant experience working with individuals, families and corporate officers who either have a financial interest in one or more foreign bank accounts or who hold signatory authority over one or more foreign bank accounts. We work with each client by conducting the following:
FBAR filing regulations are complex and require the assistance of a professional to navigate. There have been several modifications and changes to the regulations since they were initially implemented. If you would like to submit FBAR filings for current or past tax years, then Sasserath & Co. can help you! For additional information, please contact Alan R, Sasserath, CPA, MS, at 631-368-3110, or click here to email Alan. In a brief consultation he can assess your situation and determine the next steps to attain compliance.