Posts

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

US Taxpayers’ Nightmare Continues: FBAR Penalty Inflation Adjustment

As if the FBAR penalties were not frightening enough, the Congress has mandated the IRS to adjust the FBAR penalties to account for inflation. As a result, the already complicated and severe system of FBAR penalties became even more complex and ruthless. In this article, I would like provide a general overview of the FBAR penalty inflation adjustment and what it means for noncompliant US taxpayers.

FBAR Penalty Inflation Adjustment: The “Old” FBAR Penalty System

The FBAR penalty system was already complex prior to the 2015 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 the willful failure to file an FBAR – up to $100,000 or 50% of the highest balance of an account, whichever is greater, per violation. It is important to emphasize that the IRS has unilaterally interpreted the word “violation” to mean that a penalty should be imposed on each account per year, potentially going back six years (the FBAR statute of limitations is six years).

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.

FBAR Penalty Inflation Adjustment: Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015

Apparently, the Congress did not believe that these FBAR penalties were sufficiently horrific. Hence, it enacted a law awkwardly named Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (“2015 Inflation Adjustment Act”) to “improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect.”

The 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act required federal agencies to do two things: (1) adjust the amounts of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment; and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. It is important to note that only civil penalties, not criminal, were subject to the inflation adjustment.

While the annual adjustment requirement is fairly clear, the “catch-up” adjustment requires a bit more explanation. In essence, the catch-up adjustment requires a federal agency to adjust the penalty (as it was last originally established by an act of Congress) for inflation from the time of establishment through roughly the November of 2015. In other words, a penalty would be adjusted in one year for all of the inflation that accumulated between the time the statutory penalty was created and the time the 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act was enacted. The adjustment was limited to 2.5 times of the original penalty.

The end result of the penalty adjustment was a massive increase in federal penalties in 2016. For example, one OSHA penalty went up from $70,000 to $124,709.

New System under the FBAR Penalty Inflation Adjustment

Luckily, the FBAR penalties were last revisited by Congress in 2004 and the increase in FBAR penalties, while very large (about 25%), was not as dramatic as some of the other federal penalties. Nevertheless, the FBAR penalty inflation adjustment further complicated the multi-layered system of FBAR penalties.

The key complication came from the fact that the FBAR penalty became dependent on the timing of the IRS penalty assessment, bifurcating the already existing FBAR penalty system (that was broadly described above) into two distinct parts: pre-November 2, 2015 and post-November 2, 2015.

If an FBAR violation occurred on or before November 2, 2015, the old FBAR penalty system applies. This is also true even if the actual IRS assessment of the FBAR penalties for the violation occurred after this date. In other words, the last FBAR violation definitely eligible for the old statutory penalties is the one concerning 2014 FBAR which was due on June 30, 2015. Obviously, FBARs for prior years are also eligible for the same treatment.

If an FBAR violation occurred after November 2, 2015 and the FBAR penalty would be assessed after August 1, 2016, the new system of penalties (i.e. the one after the FBAR penalty inflation adjustment) applies. In other words, all FBAR violations starting 2015 FBAR (which was due on June 30, 2016) are subject to the ever-increasing FBAR civil penalties.

With respect to these 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, if the IRS penalty assessment was made after August 1, 2016 but prior to January 15, 2017, then maximum non-willful FBAR penalty per violation will be $12,459 and the maximum willful FBAR penalty per violation will be the greater of $124,588 or 50% of the highest balance of the account.

If, however, the penalty was assessed after January 15, 2017 but prior to January 15, 2018, the maximum non-willful FBAR penalty will increase to $12,663 per violation and the maximum civil willful FBAR penalty will be the greater of $126,626 or 50% of the highest balance of the account.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Avoiding or Reducing Your FBAR Penalties

Whether you have undisclosed foreign accounts on which the FBAR penalties have not yet been imposed or the IRS has already imposed FBAR penalties for your prior FBAR noncompliance, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to secure professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to reduce and, under certain circumstances, completely eliminate FBAR penalties through properly made voluntary disclosures. We have also helped US taxpayers to fight the already imposed FBAR penalties through appeals to the IRS Office of Appeals as well as in a federal court.

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

University Professor Sentenced to Prison with $100 Million FBAR Penalty

On February 10, 2017, the IRS scored yet another victory in its fight against secret offshore accounts with the imposition of a $100 Million FBAR Penalty. Mr. Dan Horsky, a 71-year old retired university professor (he used to teach at a business school), was a spectacularly successful investor and a very unsuccessful tax evader. After making a fortune, he decided to conceal his earnings through secret offshore accounts in Switzerland. Now, not only will this university professor pay an enormous $100 Million FBAR penalty, but he will also go to prison.

Facts of the Case: From University Professor to a $100 Million FBAR Penalty

Let’s first explore how did a simple professor ended up paying a $100 Million FBAR penalty.

According to court documents and statements made during the sentencing hearing, Mr. Horsky is a citizen of the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel. For over 30 years, he worked as a professor of business administration at a university located in New York. Around 1995, this university professor invested in numerous start-up companies. All of them but one failed; however, the one that succeeded (“Company A”) was spectacularly profitable.

In 2000, Mr. Horsky consolidated all of his investments into a nominee account in the name of a shell entity, Horsky Holdings. The account was opened at a Swiss bank in Zurich in order to conceal his financial transactions and accounts from the IRS and the US Treasury Department (the “DOJ”).

In 2008, Mr. Horsky received approximately $80 million in proceeds from selling Company A’s stock. However, he filed a fraudulent 2008 tax return, under-reporting his income by more than $40 million and disclosing only approximately $7 million of his gain from the sale. Then, the Swiss Bank opened multiple accounts for the university professor to assist him in concealing his assets. The university professor decided to trick the IRS and opened one small account for which Horsky admitted that he was a US citizen and another much larger account for which he claimed he was an Israeli citizen and resident.

As a university professor who loved business, Mr. Horsky could not stay away from temptation of further investments. He re-invested some of his gains from selling Company A’s stock into Company B’s stocks. Again, the university professor was enormously successful – by 2015, his secret offshore holdings exceeded $220 million.

In 2012, after learning about the IRS efforts to fight offshore tax evasion, Mr. Horsky engaged in a new scheme. He arranged for an individual (“Person A”) to take nominal control over his accounts at the Swiss Bank because the bank was closing accounts controlled by US persons. Interestingly, the Swiss Bank went so far as to help Person A relinquish his US citizenship. In 2014, Person A filed a false Form 8854 (Initial Annual Expatriation Statement) with the IRS that failed to disclose his net worth on the date of expatriation, failed to disclose his ownership of foreign assets, and falsely certified under penalties of perjury that he was in compliance with his tax obligations for the five preceding tax years.

By 2015, however, the IRS already conducted an investigation (probably triggered by information received as a result of the Swiss Bank Program) and identified Mr. Horsky’s tax evasion scheme. The IRS special agents actually raided Mr. Horsky’s home and confronted him about his concealment of his foreign financial accounts.

The IRS estimated that, during this entire 15-year old tax evasion scheme, Mr. Horsky evaded more than $18 million in income and gift taxes.

Punishment: $100 Million FBAR Penalty, Imprisonment and Other Penalties

Mr. Horsky faced a large array of penalties for filing fraudulent federal income tax returns, failure to disclosure his beneficial interest in and control over his foreign financial accounts on FBARs through the year 2011, and filing of fraudulent 2012 and 2013 FBARs.

The court sentenced Mr. Horsky to seven months in prison, one year of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Horsky also paid over $13,000,000 in taxes owed to the IRS and a $100,000,000 FBAR penalty.

Lessons to be Learned from this $100 Million FBAR Penalty Case

So, how did this become a $100 Million FBAR Penalty Case? What qualified this case for criminal prosecution?

First, the very sophisticated nature of the tax evasion scheme made it very easy for the IRS to pursue criminal penalties in this case. Mr. Horsky went from one tax evasion trick to another, believing that he could avoid IRS detection. Using a shell corporation to hide his identity was definitely a big factor here. However, other strategies (like the use of a nominee who gave up his US citizenship) employed by him also made it an easy target for criminal prosecution.

Second, the amounts involved. With over $200 million in assets, Mr. Horsky should have known that he would be a valuable target for the IRS criminal prosecution.

Third, income evasion was done here on a grand scale. Not only did Mr. Horsky conceal the income from his accounts, but he also tried to evade the taxation of his very large capital gains. Every time that there is a combination of FBAR violation with a large-scale income tax violation, the chances of a criminal prosecution increase exponentially.

Finally, the willfulness of Mr. Horsky’s entire behavior was particularly made evident with the filing of fraudulent tax returns. A partial disclosure is one of the most dangerous patterns of tax behavior, because it discloses the knowledge of a tax obligation on the part of the taxpayer and points to the willfulness of the violation with respect to the noncompliant part of the obligation.

In fact, looking at this case, one can say that Mr. Horsky’s $100 Million FBAR penalty was definitely not the worse outcome. It is probably thanks to the skillful work of his criminal tax attorneys that the worst was avoided.

There is one more lesson that needs to be learned from this case. It appears that Mr. Horsky had plenty of opportunities to enter into any of the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure programs to avoid his $100 Million FBAR penalty and a prison sentence. He could have entered the 2009 OVDP, 2011 OVDI, 2012 OVDP and probably even 2014 OVDP.

If he would have entered into any of these programs, Mr. Horsky could have avoided the $100 Million FBAR penalty, saved tens of millions of dollars in potential penalties and eliminated any serious chance of a criminal prosecution.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the Voluntary Disclosure of Your Foreign Accounts

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts outside of the United States, you are in grave danger of IRS detection and the imposition of draconian FBAR penalties, including incarceration. This is why you need to contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore your voluntary disclosure options.

Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in offshore voluntary disclosures. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers to avoid or reduce draconian FBAR penalties and bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws. We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!