FAQs regarding Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

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  1. What is an FBAR?
    An FBAR is a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account. The form number is TD F 90-22.1 (PDF).
  2. Who must file an FBAR?
    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
  3. What is a United States person?
    A United States person is:
    • A citizen or resident of the United States
    • A domestic partnership
    • A domestic corporation
    • A domestic estate or trust
  4. What is a foreign country?
    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).
  5. What is a financial account?
    A “financial account” includes any bank, securities, securities derivatives or other financial instruments accounts. The term includes any savings, demand, checking, deposit, or any other account maintained with a financial institution.
  6. What constitutes signature or other authority over an account?
    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 comparable power 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.
  7. What does “maximum value of account” mean (for Box 22 on the FBAR)?
    The maximum value of account is the largest amount of currency and non-monetary assets that appear on any quarterly or more frequent account statements issued for the applicable year. If periodic account statements are not issued, the maximum account value is the largest amount of currency or non-monetary assets in the account at any time during the year. Convert foreign currency by using the official exchange rate at the end of the year.

    The value of stock, other securities or other non-monetary assets in an account reported on TD F 90-22.1 (PDF) is the fair market value at the end of the calendar year. If the asset is withdrawn from the account, the value is the fair market value at the time of the withdrawal.
  8. Is an FBAR required if the account generates neither interest nor dividend income?
    Yes, an FBAR must be filed whether or not the foreign account generates any income.
  9. How do foreign account holders report their accounts to the IRS?
    The holders report their foreign accounts by completing boxes 7a and 7b on Form 1040 Schedule B and completing Form TD F 90-22.1 (PDF). 
  10. When is the FBAR due?
    The FBAR is due by June 30th 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.   There is no extension available for filing the FBAR. Note it must be received by this date and cannot just be postmarked that date.

    If an account holder does not have all the available information to file the return by June 30th, they should file as complete a return as they can and amend the document when the additional or new information becomes available.
  11. Where are FBAR forms available?
    FBAR forms are available:
    • On the IRS.gov (PDF) Web site.
    • On the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Web site for Money Services Businesses.
    • By calling IRS at (800) 829-3676.
  12. Is there a help line for questions about completing the form?
    You can get answers to questions concerning the FBAR form by calling (800) 800-2877, option 2.
  13. Where do account holders file the FBAR?
    Send completed forms to:

    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    P.O. Box 32621
    Detroit, MI 48232-0621

    The FBAR is not to be filed with the filer’s Federal tax return.
  14. How does an FBAR filer amend a previously filed FBAR?
    FBAR filers can amend a previously filed FBAR by:
    • Writing the word “Amended” at the top of a new FBAR form;
    • Adding or correcting the account information; and,
    • Stapling it to a copy of the original FBAR. 
    If the amendment is for a delinquent FBAR, the filer should also attach an explanation giving the reasons why the form was not filed timely.
  15. What is the statute of limitations for assessing civil penalties for violations of the FBAR requirements?
    Civil penalties can be assessed anytime up to six years after the date of the violation.
  16. How long should account holders retain records of the foreign accounts?
    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.
  17. What happens if an account holder is required to file an FBAR and fails to do so?
    Failure to file an FBAR when required to do so may potentially result in civil penalties, criminal penalties, or both.
  18. An American citizen, X, gives a person who is a citizen or resident of the U.S. power of attorney to X’s Canadian bank accounts.  X files an FBAR form annually.  Does the power of attorney also need to file an FBAR?
    Yes, because the power of attorney has a financial interest in the accounts and because he is a U.S. person.
  19. A fiduciary who is a U.S. person has control as a trustee for an IRA with a foreign account.   Should an FBAR be filed?
    Yes, because the fiduciary is a U.S. person.
  20. Does the term “other authority over a financial account” mean that a person, who has the power to direct how an account is invested, but who cannot make disbursements to the accounts, has to file an FBAR?
    No, an FBAR is not required because the person has no power of disposition of money or other property in the account.
  21. Does more than one form need to be filed for a husband and wife owning a   joint account?
    No, if the names and social security numbers of the joint owners are fully disclosed on the filed FBAR.  This is not stated in the instructions for the FBAR but it is the practice of the IRS to accept one filing for both when the names of the joint owners are fully disclosed.  This practice only applies to joint owners who are husband and wife and who reside at the same address.  Other joint owners must file separate FBARs.
  22. Must a U.S. person file an FBAR on a Eurodollar account in the Cayman Islands?
    Yes, the Cayman Islands account is a foreign account.
  23. A N.Y. corporation owns a foreign company that has foreign accounts.  The corporation will file an FBAR for the foreign company’s accounts.  Do the primary owners of the U.S. Company also have to file?
    Yes, if any owner directly or indirectly owns more than 50 percent of the total value of the shares of stock, that owner will have to file an FBAR.
  24. A company has over 25 foreign accounts.  What should they enter in Part ll of the FBAR?
    If the filer holds a financial interest in more than 25 accounts, indicate the        number of accounts in box 20.  Do not complete any further items in Part II.  Sign the form in box 36 and enter the date signed in box 37.  Any person who lists more than 25 accounts in item 20 must provide all the information called for in Part II when requested by the Department of the Treasury.
  25. A person is a non-resident alien living in the U.S. and owns several foreign accounts.  Does that person have to file an FBAR?
    Not at this time.  The current instructions for the FBAR form do not include non-resident aliens in its definition of United States persons.  Section 5314(b)(1) of Title 31 gives the Secretary of the Treasury the discretion to exempt groups of persons identified in section 5314(a) from the FBAR filing requirements.  Issuing instructions for the FBAR form is one way the Secretary may exercise this discretion.  Since the FBAR instructions do not require non-resident aliens to file FBARs, they do not have to file FBARs.  The FBAR instructions are being revised and it is possible that a change may be made at a later date to require non-resident aliens to file FBARs.  The revision of the FBAR instructions related to the definition of a U.S. person may include the use of the “Tax Code Test.”  (You may be considered a U.S. person if you live in the U.S. for 180 days or 30 days with no strong tax home.)
  26. What are the exceptions to the FBAR filing requirement?
    Accounts in U.S. military banking facilities, operated by a United States financial institution to serve U.S. Government installations abroad, are not considered as accounts in a foreign country.  For this reason, these accounts do not have to be reported on an FBAR.

    An officer or employee of a bank which is subject to the Supervision of the
    Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of Thrift Supervision, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation need not report that he has signature or other authority over a foreign bank, securities or other financial account maintained by the bank, if the officer or employee has NO personal financial interest in the account.

    An officer or employee of a domestic corporation whose equity securities are listed on a national securities exchange or which has assets exceeding $10 million and 500 or more shareholders of record, need not file a report concerning the other signature authority over a foreign financial account of the corporation, if he has NO personal financial interest in the account and he has been advised, in writing, by the chief financial officer of the corporation that the corporation has filed a current report, which includes that account.
  27. Does the IRS have an email address to send questions regarding the FBAR?
    You can send questions concerning the FBAR to FBARquestions@irs.gov

    MORE INFORMATION ON FBAR PENALTIES AND LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS

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