In March 2010, the IRS suspended TD F 90-22.1 (FBAR) filing requirements for persons other than U.S. Citizens and domestic entities (including those “in and doing business in the U.S.”). (IRS Announcement: 2010-16)
On 8/7/09, IRS Notice 2009-62, extended the deadline for filing FBAR’s for 2008 (and prior years) for persons with signature authority (but no financial interest) in foreign financial accounts until June 30, 2010.
In March 2010, the IRS extended the 2008 FBAR filings due June 30, 2010 until June 30, 2011 (for FBAR filings due for 2010 and prior years) for “persons with signature authority” (but no financial interest) in foreign financial accounts, defined as including: “Those in which the assets are held in a commingled fund and the account owner holds an equity interest in the fund (including mutual funds). (IRS Announcement: 2010-23)
The FBAR is not a tax return. The FBAR is a financial disclosure (i.e., a report of the Taxpayer’s foreign financial accounts). The FBAR must be filed even if the reported accounts generate no interest or other taxable income. All income earned on the foreign account must be reported on the tax return of the beneficial owner which is an entirely separate reporting from the FBAR. However, once a Taxpayer discloses a foreign account on their Form 1040 Schedule B, the FBAR must be filed.
The FBAR form is designed to disclose the US Taxpayer’s connection to a foreign financial account. The form details the US Taxpayer (e.g., name, address, identification number and balance held in the account over $10,000). The form asks for the name of the financial institution, the country and the account number for each account, if more than one. If there are joint owners, their names and identification numbers are requested and if the person who is reporting claims to have no financial interest in the account (such as a person holding a power of attorney or a corporate officer who has no shares in the corporation), then the name and the identification number of the beneficial owner must be disclosed.
Any US Person who has a financial interest in, or signatory authority over, any financial accounts in a foreign country if the total value of such accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year must file a FBAR. The accounts in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands are exceptions to this rule (see Workbook on the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) )
US Taxpayers include resident aliens and other foreign individuals who are considered US Persons under the Substantial Presence Test (i.e., because of the time spent in the US in a given year [IRC §§7701(b)(1)(A)(ii) and 7701(b)(3)]). (FBAR rules also apply to a domestic trust, estate, partnership or corporation.)
A US Taxpayer has a required financial interest in an account if they:
1. Are the owner of the account.
2. Have legal title to the account (even if it is for someone else’s benefit).
Both financial interest and the signatory authority generate the requirement to file the FBAR. When the account is in joint names, all joint owners must file their own FBAR (even though the funds may belong to only one of them). An exception to the joint account rule applies only if the joint owners are husband and wife (if they live together).
IRS FBAR FAQ #15 (posted on 5/06/09) states: Taxpayers who fail to report foreign bank/financial accounts face civil penalties (based on the entity tax reporting due).
What are some of the civil penalties that might apply if I don’t come in under voluntary disclosure and the IRS finds me? How do they work?
The following is a summary of potential reporting requirements and civil penalties that could apply to a taxpayer, depending on his or her particular facts and circumstances.
• A penalty for failing to file the Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as an “FBAR”). United States citizens, residents and certain other persons must annually report their direct or indirect financial interest in, or signature authority (or other authority that is comparable to signature authority) over, a financial account that is maintained with a financial institution located in a foreign country if, for any calendar year, the aggregate value of all foreign accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the year. Generally, the civil penalty for willfully failing to file an FBAR can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the total balance of the foreign account. See 31 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(5). Nonwillful violations are subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.
• A penalty for failing to file Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts. Taxpayers must also report various transactions involving foreign trusts, including creation of a foreign trust by a United States person, transfers of property from a United States person to a foreign trust and receipt of distributions from foreign trusts under section 6048. This return also reports the receipt of gifts from foreign entities under section 6039F. The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or for filing an incomplete return, is 35 percent of the gross reportable amount, except for returns reporting gifts, where the penalty is five percent of the gift per month, up to a maximum penalty of 25 percent of the gift.
• A penalty for failing to file Form 3520-A, Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner. Taxpayers must also report ownership interests in foreign trusts, by United States persons with various interests in and powers over those trusts under section 6048(b). The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns or for filing an incomplete return, is five percent of the gross value of trust assets determined to be owned bythe United States person.
• A penalty for failing to file Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Person with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations. Certain United States persons who are officers, directors or shareholders in certain foreign corporations (including International Business Corporations) are required to report information under sections 6035, 6038 and 6046. The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return.
• A penalty for failing to file Form 5472, Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business. Taxpayers may be required to report transactions between a 25 percent foreign-owned domestic corporation or a foreign corporation engaged in a trade or business in the United States and a related party as required by sections 6038A and 6038C. The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns, or to keep certain records regarding reportable transactions, is $10,000, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return.
• A penalty for failing to file Form 926, Return by a U.S. Transferor of Property to a Foreign Corporation. Taxpayers are required to report transfers of property to foreign corporations and other information under section 6038B. The penalty for failing to file each one of these information returns is ten percent of the value of the property transferred, up to a maximum of $100,000 per return, with no limit if the failure to report the transfer was intentional.
• A penalty for failing to file Form 8865, Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships. United States persons with certain interests in foreign partnerships use this form to report interests in and transactions of the foreign partnerships, transfers of property to the foreign partnerships, and acquisitions, dispositions and changes in foreign partnership interests under sections 6038, 6038B, and 6046A. Penalties include $10,000 for failure to file each return, with an additional $10,000 added for each month the failure continues beginning 90 days after the taxpayer is notified of the delinquency, up to a maximum of $50,000 per return, and ten percent of the value of any transferred property that is not reported, subject to a $100,000 limit.
• Fraud penalties imposed under sections 6651(f) or 6663. Where an underpayment of tax, or a failure to file a tax return, is due to fraud, the taxpayer is liable for penalties that, although calculated differently, essentially amount to 75 percent of the unpaid tax.
• A penalty for failing to file a tax return imposed under section 6651(a)(1). Generally, taxpayers are required to file income tax returns. If a taxpayer fails to do so, a penalty of 5 percent of the balance due, plus an additional 5 percent for each month or fraction thereof during which the failure continues may be imposed. The penalty shall not exceed 25 percent.
• A penalty for failing to pay the amount of tax shown on the return under section 6651(a)(2). If a taxpayer fails to pay the amount of tax shown on the return, he or she may be liable for a penalty of .5 percent of the amount of tax shown on the return, plus an additional .5 percent for each additional month or fraction thereof that the amount remains unpaid, not exceeding 25 percent.
• An accuracy-related penalty on underpayments imposed under section 6662. Depending upon which component of the accuracy-related penalty is applicable, a taxpayer may be liable for a 20 percent or 40 percent penalty.
The California Tax Lawyer (Summer 2009 Edition) published my article: Penalty Regime for Foreign Bank Account Filing (FBAR), please see copy below.
Penalty Regime for Foreign Bank Account Filing (FBAR)
Each U.S. person who has a financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, one or more foreign financial accounts (valued over $10,000, at any time during a calendar year) is required to report the account on Schedule B/Form 1040, and TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)), due by June 30 of the succeeding year (I.R.M. 188.8.131.52. (2/17/09)). The IRS has six years to assess a civil penalty against a taxpayer who violates the FBAR reporting rules.
Failure to file the required report or maintain adequate records (for 5 years) is a violation of Title 31, with civil and criminal penalties (or both). For each violation a separate penalty may be asserted.
(I) Non Willful Violation: Civil Penalty – Up to $10,000 for each violation.
(II) Negligent Violation: Civil Penalty – Up to the greater of $100,000, or 35 percent of the greatest amount in the account.
(III) Intentional Violations -
(1) Willful Failure to File FBAR or retain records of account: (a) Civil Penalty – Up to the greater of $100,000, or 50 percent of the greatest amount in the account; (b) Criminal Penalty – Up to $250,000 or 5 years or both.
(2) Knowingly and Willfully Filing False FBAR: (a) Civil Penalty – Up to the greater of $100,000, or 50 percent of the greatest amount in the account; (b) Criminal Penalty – $10,000 or 5 years or both.
(3) Willful Failure to File FBAR or retain records of account while violating certain other laws: (a) Civil Penalty – Up to the greater of $100,000, or 50 percent of the greatest amount in the account; (b) Criminal Penalty – Up to $500,000 or 10 years or both.
U.S. Taxpayers, who fail to file FBAR’s to disclose foreign bank accounts, may seek a reasonable cause exception based on their “tax preparer’s” failure to file the FBAR.
Tax Practitioners (Attorneys, CPA’s) must comply with the FBAR rules as part of their due diligence (as to accuracy) obligation under IRS Circular 230 (Section 10.22).
The FBAR (TD F 90-22.1) is not a tax return. The FBAR is an information report required under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) 31 USC 5314 (and related regulations CFR 103.24, 103.27). Related records are required under 31 CFR 103.24 and 103.32.
The Practitioners’ professional responsibility does not require that the Practitioner “audit” their client.
The Practitioner must:
1. Make reasonable inquiries in response to Taxpayer’s information of overseas accounts/transactions.
2. A Practitioner may rely on information provided by a client in good faith.
3. The Practitioner must make reasonable inquiries if information appears incorrect, inconsistent or incomplete.