Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts FINCEN Form 114

FBAR Noncompliance & Taxpayer’s Options | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney

FBAR noncompliance is the worst nightmare for US taxpayers due to enormous FBAR penalties even for non-willful taxpayers. US Taxpayers who are not facing an IRS examination or a DOJ (US Department of Justice) lawsuit have three options with respect to their FBAR noncompliance: (1) do nothing with respect to correcting their prior FBAR noncompliance, close the accounts and hope that the IRS will never discover them; (2) do a quiet disclosure; and (3) come forward and voluntarily disclose their unfiled FBARs.

I already explored the highly-risky strategy of a quiet disclosure in another article. In this article, I will focus on option #1 – doing nothing about prior FBAR noncompliance. In the next article, I will discuss the option of Offshore Voluntary Disclosure as a way to deal with prior FBAR noncompliance.

This article does not constitute legal advice, but merely provides information for educational purposes.

Advantages of Doing Nothing With Respect to Prior FBAR Noncompliance

Doing nothing with respect to FBAR noncompliance is a position that some taxpayers prefer, because it requires no action, no immediate legal expenses and no immediate payment of IRS penalties.

In other words, if a taxpayer chooses to do nothing with respect to his late unfiled FBARs and his strategy is successful, he stands to gain in two aspects: (1) he spends no effort, time or money on correcting his past FBAR noncompliance; and (2) if (and this is big “if”) the IRS never finds out about his past FBAR noncompliance, he will not pay any penalties. This whole strategy is based on the hope that the IRS will not find out about their FBAR noncompliance.

Disadvantages of Doing Nothing With Respect to Prior FBAR Noncompliance Even If the Strategy Is Successful

From legal perspective, this strategy of doing nothing can be classified as very risky. If unsuccessful, a noncompliant taxpayer who chooses to do nothing stands to lose a lot more than he could ever gain if his strategy works.

Let’s analyze the disadvantages of doing nothing based on two scenarios: the strategy is successful and the strategy is unsuccessful.

Even if the strategy is ultimately successful and the IRS does not find out about FBAR noncompliance, there is still a heavy psychological price to pay for this success, because the taxpayer will not find out about the success of his strategy until the FBAR statute of limitations expires. In other words, for six long years, the taxpayer will not have any peace of mind and will constantly worry about his potential FBAR penalty exposure. If the taxpayer does not close his foreign accounts, the waiting period could be extended even further.

Moreover, if FBAR noncompliance is combined with income noncompliance and failure to file other US international information returns, the statute of limitations on the tax returns might be open for an indefinite period of time (especially if the IRS can assert a fraud claim against the noncompliant taxpayer).

I have personally seen the psychological effects of such pressure on some of my clients. It was simply destroying their lives. Eventually, they could not live like this and came to me to do offshore voluntary disclosure to resolve their prior FBAR noncompliance.

Disadvantages of Doing Nothing With Respect to Prior FBAR Noncompliance Where the Strategy Fails

If the success of this strategy exhorts such a heavy price, its failure may potentially result in disastrous consequences. Let’s explore the main two reasons why the strategy of doing nothing is so disfavored among international tax lawyers.

First, as described above, the current international tax enforcement structure severely undermines the entire basis for the strategy – i.e. hope that the IRS will not find out about FBAR noncompliance is simply too risky in the contemporary world dominated by FATCA, CRS and a widely-spread web of bilateral and multilateral automatic information exchange treaties. It is still possible that the IRS will not find out about a US person’s foreign accounts, but it is becoming less and less likely.

Second, since the strategy of doing nothing implies a taxpayer’s conscious choice not to comply with the FBAR requirements, it may turn a relatively simple and non-willful situation into a complex and willful one. In other words, under these circumstances, if the IRS is able to find out about prior FBAR noncompliance, the IRS may pursue willful and, in extreme circumstances, even criminal FBAR penalties.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Resolving FBAR Noncompliance Issues

If you never filed your required FBARs and other US tax forms, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. Our legal team is headed by one of the most experienced international tax lawyers in this area – Mr. Eugene Sherayzen. He has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to successfully resolve their prior FBAR noncompliance, and He can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Following the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the FBAR civil penalties are adjusted every year by the IRS for inflation. In this brief article, I would like to describe the new 2018 FBAR Civil Penalties that may be assessed by the IRS with respect to FBAR noncompliance.

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties: Pre-2016 FBAR Penalty System

The FBAR penalty system was already complex prior to the FBAR penalty inflation adjustment. It consisted of three different levels of penalties with various levels of mitigation. The highest level of penalties consisted of criminal penalties. The most dreadful penalty was imposed for the willful failure to file FBAR or retain records of a foreign account while also violating certain other laws – up to $500,000 or 10 years in prison or both.

The next level consisted of civil penalties imposed for a willful failure to file an FBAR – up to $100,000 or 50% of the highest balance of an account, whichever is greater, per violation per year.

The third level of penalties were imposed for the non-willful failure to file an FBAR. The penalties were up to $10,000 per violation per year. It is also important to point out that the subsequent laws and IRS guidance imposed certain limitations on the application of the non-willful FBAR penalties.

Finally, there were also penalties imposed solely on businesses for negligent failure to file an FBAR. These penalties were up to $500 per violation; if, however, there was a pattern of negligence, the negligence penalties could increase ten times up to $50,000 per violation.

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties: Penalty Adjustment System

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 further complicated the already complex FBAR penalty system, including for 2018 FBAR civil penalties.

As a result of the Act, with respect to post-November 2, 2015 violations, the exact amount of penalties will depend on the timing of the IRS penalty assessment, not when the FBAR violation actually occurred.

For example, in 2017, the IRS announced that if the IRS penalty assessment was made after August 1, 2016 but prior to January 16, 2017, then the maximum non-willful FBAR penalty per violation would be $12,459 and the maximum willful FBAR penalty per violation would be the greater of $124,588 or 50% of the highest balance of the account.

Similarly, if the penalty was assessed after January 15, 2017, the maximum non-willful FBAR penalty would increase to $12,663 per violation and the maximum civil willful FBAR penalty would be the greater of $126,626 or 50% of the highest balance of the account.

Now, in 2018, post-January 15, 2017 FBAR penalties are adjusted higher.

2018 FBAR Civil Penalties: 2018 Inflation Adjustment

The new 2018 FBAR civil penalties for FBAR violations have increased as a result of inflation. If a penalty was assessed after January 15, 2017, the maximum 2018 FBAR civil penalties for a non-willful violation increased from $12,663 to $12,921. Similarly, the maximum 2018 FBAR civil penalties for a willful violation assessed after January 15, 2017 increased from $126,626 to $129,210.

It should be emphasized that the IRS currently interprets the term “violation” as a failure to report an account on an FBAR. In other words, these higher 2018 FBAR civil penalties can be assessed on a per-account basis.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with 2018 FBAR Civil Penalties

If you have not filed your FBAR and you want to do a voluntary disclosure; if you are being audited by the IRS with the possibility of the imposition of FBAR penalties; or FBAR penalties have already been assessed and you believe that they are too high, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help.

Sherayzen Law Office has helped hundreds of US taxpayers to deal with their FBAR penalties on all levels: offshore voluntary disclosure, FBAR Audit pre-assessment, post-audit FBAR penalty assessment and FBAR litigation in a federal court. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2017 FBAR Currency Conversion Rates | FBAR Lawyer and Attorney

Using proper currency conversion rates is a very important part of preparing 2017 FBAR and 2017 Form 8938. The instructions to both forms require (in case of FATCA Form 8938, this is the default choice) US taxpayers to use the 2017 FBAR Currency Conversion Rates published by the Treasury Department. The 2017 FBAR Currency Conversion Rates may also be used for other purposes, not just the preparation of the 2017 FBAR and Form 8938.

The 2017 FBAR Currency Conversion Rates are the December 31, 2017 rates officially published by the U.S. Department of Treasury (they are called “Treasury’s Financial Management Service rates” or the “FMS rates”) and they are the proper conversion rates that must be used while preparing FBAR and Form 8938.

Due to this importance of the 2017 FBAR Currency Conversion Rates to US taxpayers, international tax lawyers and international tax accountants, Sherayzen Law Office provides the table below the official 2017 FBAR Currency Conversion Rates (keep in mind, you still need to refer to the official website for any updates).

 

Country – Currency

Foreign Currency to $1.00

AFGHANISTAN – AFGHANI

69.3200

ALBANIA – LEK

110.6000

ALGERIA – DINAR

114.6590

ANGOLA – KWANZA

170.0000

ANTIGUA – BARBUDA – E. CARIBBEAN DOLLAR

2.7000

ARGENTINA – PESO

19.1600

ARMENIA – DRAM

485.0000

AUSTRALIA – DOLLAR

1.2790

AUSTRIA – EURO

0.8330

AZERBAIJAN – NEW MANAT

1.7100

BAHAMAS – DOLLAR

1.0000

BAHRAIN – DINAR

0.3770

BANGLADESH – TAKA

82.0000

BARBADOS – DOLLAR

2.0200

BELARUS – NEW RUBLE

1.9730

BELGIUM – EURO

0.8330

BELIZE – DOLLAR

2.0000

BENIN – CFA FRANC

562.3300

BERMUDA – DOLLAR

1.0000

BOLIVIA – BOLIVIANO

6.8600

BOSNIA – HERCEGOVINA – MARKA

1.6300

BOTSWANA – PULA

9.8040

BRAZIL – REAL

3.3120

BRUNEI – DOLLAR

1.3420

BULGARIA – LEV

1.6310

BURKINA FASO – CFA FRANC

562.3300

BURMA – KYAT

1354.0000

BURUNDI – FRANC

1720.0000

CAMBODIA (KHMER) – RIEL

4103.0000

CAMEROON – CFA FRANC

567.7900

CANADA – DOLLAR

1.2550

CAPE VERDE – ESCUDO

92.0260

CAYMAN ISLANDS – DOLLAR

0.8200

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – CFA FRANC

567.7900

CHAD – CFA FRANC

567.7900

CHILE – PESO

614.2300

CHINA – RENMINBI

6.5040

COLOMBIA – PESO

2981.7900

COMOROS – FRANC

411.0000

CONGO – CFA FRANC

567.7900

CONGO, DEM. REP – CONGOLESE FRANC

1580.0000

COSTA RICA – COLON

564.0000

COTE D’IVOIRE – CFA FRANC

562.3300

CROATIA – KUNA

6.2300

CUBA – PESO

1.0000

CYPRUS – EURO

0.8330

CZECH REPUBLIC – KORUNA

20.8840

DENMARK – KRONE

6.2070

DJIBOUTI – FRANC

177.0000

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – PESO

48.1100

ECAUDOR – DOLARES

1.0000

EGYPT – POUND

17.7300

EL SALVADOR – DOLARES

1.0000

EQUATORIAL GUINEA – CFA FRANC

567.7900

ERITREA – NAKFA

15.0000

ESTONIA – EURO

0.8330

ETHIOPIA – BIRR

27.2000

EURO ZONE – EURO

0.8330

FIJI – DOLLAR

2.0170

FINLAND – EURO

0.8330

FRANCE – EURO

0.8330

GABON – CFA FRANC

567.7900

GAMBIA – DALASI

47.0000

GEORGIA – LARI

2.6100

GERMANY FRG – EURO

0.8330

GHANA – CEDI

4.5200

GREECE – EURO

0.8330

GRENADA – EAST CARIBBEAN DOLLAR

2.7000

GUATEMALA – QUENTZAL

7.3300

GUINEA – FRANC

9004.0000

GUINEA BISSAU – CFA FRANC

562.3300

GUYANA – DOLLAR

215.0000

HAITI – GOURDE

62.9500

HONDURAS – LEMPIRA

23.5000

HONG KONG – DOLLAR

7.8150

HUNGARY – FORINT

258.4500

ICELAND – KRONA

104.0900

INDIA – RUPEE

63.7500

INDONESIA – RUPIAH

13490.0000

IRAN – RIAL

36057.0000

IRAQ – DINAR

1166.0000

IRELAND – EURO

0.8330

ISRAEL – SHEKEL

3.4710

ITALY – EURO

0.8330

JAMAICA – DOLLAR

128.0000

JAPAN – YEN

112.5500

JERUSALEM – SHEKEL

3.4710

JORDAN – DINAR

0.7080

KAZAKHSTAN – TENGE

331.3100

KENYA – SHILLING

103.2000

KOREA – WON

1065.9301

KUWAIT – DINAR

0.3010

KYRGYZSTAN – SOM

69.0000

LAOS – KIP

8274.0000

LATVIA – EURO

0.8330

LEBANON – POUND

1500.0000

LESOTHO – SOUTH AFRICAN RAND

12.3160

LIBERIA – U.S. DOLLAR

125.1700

LIBYA – DINAR

1.3570

LITHUANIA – LITAS

0.8330

LUXEMBOURG – EURO

0.8330

MACAO – MOP

8.0000

MACEDONIA FYROM – DENAR

51.0700

MADAGASCAR – ARIA

3235.6201

MALAWI – KWACHA

731.0000

MALAYSIA – RINGGIT

4.0440

MALI – CFA FRANC

562.3300

MALTA – EURO

0.8330

MARSHALL ISLANDS – DOLLAR

1.0000

MARTINIQUE – EURO

0.8330

MAURITANIA – OUGUIYA

355.0000

MAURITIUS – RUPEE

33.4000

MEXICO – NEW PESO

19.7040

MICRONESIA – DOLLAR

1.0000

MOLDOVA – LEU

17.0580

MONGOLIA – TUGRIK

2427.3999

MONTENEGRO – EURO

0.8330

MOROCCO – DIRHAM

9.3520

MOZAMBIQUE – METICAL

58.8500

NAMIBIA – DOLLAR

12.3160

NEPAL – RUPEE

102.4000

NETHERLANDS – EURO

0.8330

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES – GUILDER

1.7800

NEW ZEALAND – DOLLAR

1.4050

NICARAGUA – CORDOBA

30.6000

NIGER – CFA FRANC

562.3300

NIGERIA – NAIRA

359.0000

NORWAY – KRONE

8.1960

OMAN – RIAL

0.3850

PAKISTAN – RUPEE

110.4000

PALAU – DOLLAR

1.0000

PANAMA – BALBOA

1.0000

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – KINA

3.1350

PARAGUAY – GUARANI

5574.0000

PERU – NUEVO SOL

3.2360

PHILIPPINES – PESO

49.8490

POLAND – ZLOTY

3.4830

PORTUGAL – EURO

0.8330

QATAR – RIYAL

3.6400

ROMANIA – LEU

3.8800

RUSSIA – RUBLE

57.8450

RWANDA – FRANC

855.0000

SAO TOME & PRINCIPE – DOBRAS

20597.2227

SAUDI ARABIA – RIYAL

3.7500

SENEGAL – CFA FRANC

562.3300

SERBIA – DINAR

101.3300

SEYCHELLES – RUPEE

13.3800

SIERRA LEONE – LEONE

7645.0000

SINGAPORE – DOLLAR

1.3360

SLOVAK REPUBLIC – EURO

0.8330

SLOVENIA – EURO

0.8330

SOLOMON ISLANDS – DOLLAR

7.4910

SOMALI – SHILLING

575.0000

SOUTH AFRICA – RAND

12.3160

SOUTH SUDANESE – POUND

126.0000

SPAIN – EURO

0.8330

SRI LANKA – RUPEE

153.4000

ST LUCIA – EC DOLLAR

2.7000

SUDAN – SUDANESE POUND

9.0000

SURINAME – GUILDER

7.5200

SWAZILAND – LILANGENI

12.3160

SWEDEN – KRONA

8.1930

SWITZERLAND – FRANC

0.9750

SYRIA – POUND

515.0000

TAIWAN – DOLLAR

29.6460

TAJIKISTAN – SOMONI

8.7500

TANZANIA – SHILLING

2235.0000

THAILAND – BAHT

32.6000

TIMOR – LESTE – DILI

1.0000

TOGO – CFA FRANC

562.3300

TONGA – PA’ANGA

2.1140

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – DOLLAR

6.6300

TUNISIA – DINAR

2.4580

TURKEY – LIRA

3.7880

TURKMENISTAN – MANAT

3.4910

UGANDA – SHILLING

3635.0000

UKRAINE – HRYVNIA

28.1450

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DIRHAM

3.6730

UNITED KINGDOM – POUND STERLING

0.7400

URUGUAY – PESO

28.7600

UZBEKISTAN – SOM

8030.0000

VANUATU – VATU

105.0000

VENEZUELA – BOLIVAR

3345.0000

VIETNAM – DONG

22708.0000

WESTERN SAMOA – TALA

2.4400

YEMEN – RIAL

250.5000

ZAMBIA – NEW KWACHA

9.9750

ZAMBIA – KWACHA

5455.0000

ZIMBABWE – DOLLAR

1.0000

2017 FBAR Deadline | FinCEN Form 114 FBAR Lawyer & Attorney

FinCEN recently confirmed the 2017 FBAR deadline and the automatic extension option.

2017 FBAR Deadline: FBAR Background

FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, is commonly known as FBAR.  US taxpayers should use this form to report their financial interest in or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts. Failure to timely file the FBAR may result in the imposition of draconian FBAR penalties.

2017 FBAR Deadline: Traditional FBAR Deadline

Prior to 2016 FBAR, the taxpayers had to file their FBARs for each relevant calendar year by June 30 of the following year. No filings extensions were allowed. The last FBAR that followed this deadline was 2015 FBAR (its due date was June 30, 2016).

2017 FBAR Deadline: Changes to FBAR Deadline Starting 2016 FBAR

The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (the “Act”) changed the FBAR deadline starting with 2016 FBAR.  Section 2006(b)(11) of the Act requires the FBARs to be filed by the due date of that year’s tax return (i.e. usually April 15), not June 30.

Furthermore, during the transition period, the IRS granted to US taxpayers an automatic extension of the FBAR filing deadline to October 15. The taxpayers do not need to make any specific requests in order for extension to be granted.

In other words, starting 2016 FBAR, the Act adjusted the FBAR due date to coincide with the federal income tax filing deadlines. Moreover, the new FBAR filing deadline will follow to the letter the federal income tax due date guidance. The federal income tax due date guidance states that, in situations where the tax return due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the IRS must delay the due date until the next business day.

2017 FBAR Deadline

Based on the new law, the 2017 FBAR deadline will be April 17, 2018 (same as 2017 income tax return due date). If a taxpayer does not file his 2017 FBAR by April 17, 2018, then the IRS will automatically grant an extension until October 15, 2018. Failure to file 2017 FBAR by October 15, 2018, may result in the imposition of FBAR civil and criminal penalties.

2018 FBAR Criminal Penalties | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney

2018 FBAR criminal penalties should be on the mind of any US taxpayer who willfully failed to file his FBARs or knowingly filed a false FBAR. In this essay, I would like to do an overview of the 2018 FBAR criminal penalties that these noncompliant US taxpayers may have to face.

2018 FBAR Criminal Penalties: Background Information

A lot of US taxpayers do not understand why the 2018 FBAR criminal penalties are so shockingly high. These taxpayers question why failing to file a form that has nothing do with income tax calculation should potentially result in a jail sentence.

The answer to this questions lies in the legislative history of FBAR. First of all, it is important to understand that FBAR is not a tax form. The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”) was born in 1970 out of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), in particular 31 U.S.C. §5314. This means that the initial primary purpose of the form was to fight financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism. In other words, FBAR was not created as a tool against tax evasion.

Hence, the FBAR penalties were structured from the very beginning for the purpose of punishing criminals engaged in financial crimes and/or terrorism. This is why the FBAR penalties are so severe and easily surpass the penalties of any tax form.

It was only 30 years later, after the enaction of The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (the “USA Patriot Act”), that the enforcement of FBAR was turned over to the IRS. The IRS almost immediately commenced using FBAR to fight the tax evasion schemes that utilized offshore accounts.

The Congress liked the IRS initiative and responded with the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (“2004 Jobs Act”). The 2004 Jobs Act further increased the FBAR penalties, including the creation of the non-willful penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

2018 FBAR Criminal Penalties: Description

Now that we understand why the 2018 FBAR criminal penalties are so severe, let’s describe what they penalties actually look like. There are three different 2018 FBAR criminal penalties associated with different FBAR violations.

The first criminal penalty may be imposed under 26 U.S.C. 5322(a) and 31 C.F.R. § 103.59(b) for willful failure to file FBAR or retain records of a foreign account. The penalty is up to $250,000 or 5 years in prison or both.

When the willful failure to file FBAR is combined with a violation of other US laws or the failure to file FBAR is “part of a pattern of any illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period”, then the IRS has the option of imposing a criminal penalty under 26 U.S.C. 5322(b) and 31 C.F.R. § 103.59(c). In this case, the penalty jumps to incredible $500,000 or 10 years in prison or both.

Finally, if a person willingly and knowingly files a false, fictitious or fraudulent FBAR, he is subject to the penalty under 31 C.F.R. § 103.59(d). The penalty in this case may be $10,000 or 5 years or both.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Past FBAR Violations

If you were required to file an FBAR but you have not done it, you need to contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore your voluntary disclosure options. Our international tax law firm specializes in FBAR compliance and we have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their US tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws while reducing and, in some cases, eliminating their FBAR penalties.

We can help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!