FBAR and FATCA

FBAR and FATCA

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is an important development in U.S. efforts to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons holding accounts and other financial assets offshore. The Treasury Department and the IRS continue to develop guidance concerning FATCA. For current and more in-depth information, please visit the IRS FATCA page.

Under FATCA, certain U.S. taxpayers holding financial assets outside the United States must report those assets to the IRS on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. There are serious penalties for not reporting these financial assets (as described below). This FATCA requirement is in addition to the long-standing requirement to report foreign financial accounts on FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) (formerly TD F 90-22.1).

FATCA will also require certain foreign financial institutions to report directly to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The reporting institutions will include not only banks, but also other financial institutions, such as investment entities, brokers, and certain insurance companies. Some non-financial foreign entities will also have to report certain of their U.S. owners.

Therefore, if you set up a new account with a foreign financial institution, it may ask you for information about your citizenship. FATCA provides special (and lessened) reporting requirements about the U.S. account holders of certain financial institutions that do not solicit business outside their country of organization and that mainly service account holders resident within it. In order to qualify for this favorable treatment, however, the local foreign financial institution cannot discriminate by declining to open or maintain accounts for U.S. citizens who reside in the country where it is organized.


Reporting by U.S. Taxpayers Holding Foreign Financial Assets

FATCA requires certain U.S. taxpayers who hold foreign financial assets with an aggregate value of more than the reporting threshold (at least $50,000) to report information about those assets on Form 8938, which must be attached to the taxpayer’s annual income tax return. The reporting threshold is higher for certain individuals, including married taxpayers filing a joint annual income tax return and certain taxpayers living in a foreign country (see below).

As of January 2013, only individuals are required to report their foreign financial assets. At a later time, a limited set of U.S. domestic entities also may have to report their foreign financial assets, but not for tax years starting before 2013. There are some exceptions to the requirement that you file Form 8938. For example, if you do not have to file a U.S. income tax return for the year, then you do not have to file Form 8938, regardless of the value of your specified foreign financial assets. Also, if you report interests in foreign entities and certain foreign gifts on other forms, you may just list the submitted forms on Form 8938, without repeating the details.

You may have to complete and file other reports about foreign assets, such as FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) (formerly TD F 90-22.1), in addition to Form 8938. For more information, see “Form 8938 Does Not Relieve Filers of FBAR Filing Requirements” below.



FOREIGN BANK and FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS

If you had any financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, a bank account, securities account, or other financial account in a foreign country at any time during the tax year, you may have to complete Treasury Department Form TD 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, and file it with the Department of the Treasury, P.O. Box 32621, Detroit, MI 48232. You must file this form no matter where you live. You need not file this form if the combined assets in the account(s) are $10,000 or less during the entire year, or if the assets are with a U.S. military banking facility operated by a U.S. financial institution.

Civil and criminal penalties are assessed if non-compliance. Civil monetary penalties if non-willful up to $10,000. If willfull up to the greater of $100,000 or 50% of each account balance. Criminal penalties are assessed separately.

The most recent example of a South Korean National who resided in Connecticut and in Oct. 27th plead guilty of failing to report foreign financial accounts. The value of the financial accounts were in excess of $28 million. In addition to the $14 million civil penalty he was sentenced to 5 years of prison. More detail here

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