A U.S. person with financial interests in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts generally must file Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) if, at any point during the calendar year, the aggregate value of the accounts exceeds $10,000. The FBAR form is due by June 30 of the calendar year following the calendar year being reported. Thus, FBARs for 2011 are due by June 30, 2012. An FBAR is not considered filed until it is received by the Treasury Department in Detroit, MI.
Aggregate value. To determine whether a U.S. person has interests in or authority over foreign accounts with an aggregate value of at least $10,000 during the year, the maximum values of all of the accounts are added together. An account’s maximum value is a reasonable approximation of the greatest value of currency or nonmonetary assets in the account during the year. Account value is determined in the currency of the account.
Signatures. An FBAR filed by an individual must be signed by the filer identified in Part I. The filer’s title should be provided only if the FBAR reports signature authority over a foreign account. In that case, the title should be the one on which the individual’s signature authority is based.
An FBAR filed by an entity must be signed by an authorized individual, whose title must also be provided. If spouses file only one FBAR to report their jointly owned accounts, they must both sign the FBAR.
Jointly owned accounts. Generally, when one account has more than one owner, each owner that is required to file an FBAR must report the entire maximum value of the account. Each owner must also provide the number of other owners of each account. The FBAR should use the identifying information for the principal owner. Simpler rules apply when joint owners are also spouses. If one spouse files an FBAR the other spouse is not required to file a separate FBAR if: (1) all of the nonfiling spouse’s foreign financial accounts are jointly owned with the filing spouse; (2) the filing spouse reports all of those jointly-owned accounts on a timely filed FBAR; and (3) both spouses sign the FBAR.
Where to file. The FBAR is not filed with the taxpayer’s federal income tax return. Instead, it is filed with the Treasury Department (although the IRS accepts hand deliveries for forwarding).
There are four methods for filing an FBAR. (1) Mail the FBAR to: Department of the Treasury, PO Box 32621, Detroit MI 48232-0621; (2) Send the FBAR via an express delivery service to: IRS Enterprise Computing Center, ATTN: CTR Operations Mailroom, 4th Floor
985 Michigan Ave., Detroit MI 48226; (3) Hand deliver the FBAR to any local IRS office (including IRS attaches located in U.S. embassies and consulates) for forwarding to the Treasury, Detroit MI; or (4) File the FBAR electronically. E-filers must first apply to become a BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) e-filer.
Record-keeping. Persons who must file FBARs must also retain records that show: the name in which each account in maintained, the account number or other designation, the name and address of the foreign financial institution that maintains the account, the type of account, and each account’s maximum account value during the reporting period.
These records must be kept for five years following the FBAR’s due date. The records must also be available for inspection by the Treasury Department.
FATCA. Keep in mind that you may also be required to file new IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Accounts. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of 2010 created separate and distinct reporting requirements for certain taxpayers holding specified foreign financial assets. New Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, is similar to the FBAR but has some important differences.
The threshold for filing Form 8938 is higher than the FBAR (and the threshold varies depending on the taxpayer’s status and location). Form 8938 also applies – at this time – to only specified individuals and covers only specified foreign financial assets. Unlike the FBAR form, Form 8938 is filed together with your Form 1040 tax return if required.
Please call our office at (908) 725-4414 if you are not sure whether you must file an FBAR Form or you are unsure about what information to report. While the Treasury has waived some penalties in the past when FBAR reporting was new, it has indicated that it will be less forgiving, if at all, for FBAR Forms required by the June 30, 2012 deadline.