If you have over $10,000.00 stashed away in a bank account in a foreign country, you may have to report it to the IRS using IRS form TD F 90-22.1. (Also note you have to report interest in foreign assets and corporations, but that is outside the scope of this blog post.) Below are some FAQS straight from the IRS website that deal with the filing requirements.
If you need help with FBAR filings, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Q. What is an FBAR?
A. An FBAR is a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. The form number is TD F 90-22.1 (PDF).
Q. Who must file an FBAR?
A. Any United States person who has a financial interest in or signature authority or other authority over any financial account in a foreign country, if the aggregate value of these accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. See also Notice 2010-23.
Q. What is a foreign country?
A. 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).
Q. What is a United States person?
A. “United States person” includes a citizen or resident of the United States, a domestic partnership, a domestic corporation, and a domestic estate or trust. See Announcement 2010-16.
Q. Is a single-member LLC, which is a disregarded entity for U.S. tax purposes, a United States person for FBAR purposes?
A. Yes, 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.
Q. What constitutes signature or other authority over an account?
A. A person has signature authority over an account if such person can control the disposition of money or other property in it by delivery of a document containing his or her signature (or his or her signature and that of one or more other persons) to the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained. 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.
Q. Is a U.S. resident with power of attorney on his elderly parents’ accounts in Canada required to file an FBAR, even if the resident never exercised the power of attorney?
A. Yes, if the power of attorney gives the U.S. resident signature authority, or other authority comparable to signature authority, over the financial accounts. Whether or not such authority is ever exercised is irrelevant to the FBAR filing requirement. See Notice 2010-23 for information regarding an extended due date to report signature authority over a foreign financial account.
Q. How do filers report their accounts to the IRS?
A. 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 (2) completing Form TD F 90-22.1 (PDF).
Q. When is the FBAR due?
A. The FBAR is due by June 30 of the year following the year that the account holder meets the $10,000 threshold. The granting, by IRS, of an extension to file Federal income tax returns does not extend the due date for filing an FBAR. Filers cannot request an extension of the FBAR due date. See also Notice 2010-23. If a filer does not have all the available information to file the return by June 30, they should file as complete a return as they can and amend the document when the additional or new information becomes available.
Q. What happens if an account holder is required to file an FBAR and fails to do so?
A. Failure to file an FBAR when required to do so may potentially result in civil penalties, criminal penalties or both. If you learn you were required to file FBARs for earlier years, you should file the delinquent FBAR reports and attach a statement explaining why the reports are filed late. No penalty will be asserted if the IRS determines that the late filings were due to reasonable cause. Keep copies of what you send for your records.
Q. Can cumulative FBAR penalties exceed the amount in a taxpayer’s foreign accounts?
A. Yes, under the penalty provisions found in 31 U.S.C. 5314(a)(5), it is possible to assert civil penalties for FBAR violations in amounts that exceed the balance in the foreign financial account.
Q. How long should account holders retain records of the foreign accounts?
A. Records of accounts required to be reported on an FBAR must be retained for a period of five years. Failure to maintain required records may result in civil penalties, criminal penalties or both.
Q. Does more than one form need to be filed for a husband and wife owning a joint account?
A. No, provided that the names and Social Security numbers of the joint owners are fully disclosed on the filed FBAR. A spouse having a joint financial interest in an account with the filing spouse should be included as a joint account owner in Part III of the FBAR. The filer should write “(spouse)” on line 26 after the last name of the joint spousal owner. If the only reportable accounts of the filer’s spouse are those reported as joint owners, the filer’s spouse need not file a separate report. If the accounts are owned jointly by both spouses, the filer’s spouse should also sign the report. It should be noted that if the filer’s spouse has a financial interest in other accounts that are not jointly owned with the filer or has signature or other authority over other accounts, the filer’s spouse should file a separate report for all accounts including those owned jointly with the other spouse.