Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts FINCEN Form 114

2021 FBAR Civil Penalties | IRS FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

As if they were not high enough, the US Congress has obligated the IRS to adjust FBAR civil penalties for inflation on an annual basis. In this article, I will provide a broad overview of the current FBAR penalty system and describe the current 2021 FBAR civil penalties.

2021 FBAR Civil Penalties: Overview of the FBAR Penalty System

FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (commonly known as “FBAR”), has always had a very complex, multi-layered system of penalties, which has grown even more complicated over the years. These penalties can be grouped into four categories: criminal, willful, non-willful and negligent.

Of course, the most dreaded penalties are FBAR criminal penalties. Not only is there a criminal fine of up to $500,000, but, in some case, a person can be sentenced to 10 years in prison for FBAR violation (and these two criminal penalties can be imposed simultaneously). Since the focus of this article is on FBAR civil penalties, I will not devote more time to the discussion of FBAR criminal penalties here.

The next category of penalties are FBAR civil penalties imposed for the willful failure to file an FBAR. These penalties are imposed per each violation – i.e. on each account per year, potentially going back six years (the FBAR statute of limitations is six years).

The third category of penalties are FBAR penalties imposed for a non-willful failure to file an FBAR or a filing of an incorrect FBAR. These penalties can be imposed on US persons who do not even know that FBAR exists.

Finally, with respect to business entities, a penalty can be imposed for a negligent failure to file an FBAR or a filing of an incorrect FBAR.

It is important to note that FBAR has its own reasonable cause exception that may be used to fight the assessment of any of the aforementioned civil penalties. Moreover, each of these penalty categories has numerous levels of penalty mitigation that a tax attorney may utilize to lower his client’s FBAR civil penalties.

2021 FBAR Civil Penalties: Penalties Prior to November 2 2015

Prior to November 2, 2015, FBAR penalties were not adjusted for inflation and stayed flat at the levels mandated by Congress. Let’s go over each category of penalties prior to inflation adjustment.

As of November 1, 2015, Willful FBAR penalties were up to $100,000 or 50% of the highest balance of an account, whichever is greater, per violation. Again, a violation meant a failure to correctly report an account in any year. Non-willful FBAR penalties were up to $10,000 per violation per year; it is far less clear what “violation” meant in this context. At that time, the IRS took a clear position that non-willful FBAR penalties are imposed on a per account basis similarly to willful penalties, but the validity of this position has been heavily compromised by recent court decisions. Finally, FBAR penalties for negligence 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.

2021 FBAR Civil Penalties: Inflation Adjustment

The situation changed dramatically in 2015. As a result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (“2015 Inflation Adjustment Act”), Congress mandated federal agents to: (1) adjust the amounts of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment; and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. The inflation adjustment applied only to civil penalties.

The “catch-up” adjustment meant a huge increase in penalties, because federal agencies were required to update all of these penalties from the time of their enactment (or the last year the Congress adjusted the penalties) through November of 2015. This meant that, in 2015, the penalties jumped to account for all accumulated multi-year inflation. The catch-up adjustment was limited to two and a half times of the original penalty.

Fortunately, the Congress adjusted FBAR penalties in 2004 and the “catch-up” adjustment did not have to go back to the 1970s. It still meant a very large (about 25%) increase in FBAR civil penalties, but it was not as dramatic as some other federal penalties.

2021 FBAR Civil Penalties: Bifurcation of FBAR Penalty System

The biggest problem with the inflation adjustment, however, was the fact that it further complicated the already dense multi-layered FBAR system of civil penalties – FBAR penalties became dependent on the timing of a violation and IRS penalty assessment. In essence, the 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act split the FBAR penalty into two distinct parts.

The first part applies to FBAR violations that occurred on or before November 2, 2015. The old pre-2015 FBAR penalties described above applies to these violations irrespective of when the IRS actually assesses the penalties for these violations. The last FBAR violations definitely eligible for the old statutory penalties are those that were made concerning 2014 FBAR which was due on June 30, 2015. The statute of limitations for the 2014 FBAR ran out on June 30, 2021.

The second part applies to all FBAR violations that occurred after November 2, 2015. For all of these violations, the exact amount of penalties will depend on the timing of the IRS penalty assessment, not when the FBAR violation actually occurred. In other words, if an FBAR violation occurred on October 15, 2017 and the IRS assessed FBAR penalties June 17, 2021, the IRS would use the inflation-adjusted FBAR penalties as of the year 2021, not October 15, 2017.

2021 FBAR Civil Penalties: Penalties Assessed On or After January 28, 2021

Now that we understand the history of FBAR penalties, we can specifically discuss the 2021 FBAR civil penalties. The first thing to understand is that we are talking about penalties assessed by the IRS on or after January 28, 2021; prior to that date, the 2020 FBAR civil penalties were still effective.

The 2021 Willful FBAR penalty imposed under 31 U.S.C. §5321(a)(5)(C)(i)(I) is $136,399 per violation. So far, for willful FBAR penalties, “violation” is applied on a “per account for each year” basis described above. Last year (i.e. penalties assessed after February 19, 2020 and before January 28, 2021), the willful penalty was $134,806.

The 2021 Non-Willful FBAR penalty imposed under 31 U.S.C. §5321(a)(5)(B) is $13,640 per violation; last year, the non-willful penalty was $13,481. The term “violation” in the context of non-willful FBAR penalties at this point has not been settled. Starting last year and culminating with the recent 11th Circuit court decision, the courts have been applying the term “violation” on a per-form (rather than per-account) basis. It other words, a taxpayer can argue that a non-willful violation of $13,481 should be applied per each delinquent FBAR rather than each account reported on an FBAR. This is of course a highly beneficial approach (for taxpayers) to FBAR penalty imposition, but it is still a struggle to get the IRS to accept this position.

The 2021 Negligence FBAR penalty imposed under 31 U.S.C. §5321(a)(6)(A) is $1,166; if there is a pattern of negligence under 31 U.S.C. §5321(a)(6)(B), then the penalty goes up to $90,743. Last year, the respective amounts were $1,146 and $89,170.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your Prior FBAR Noncompliance

Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in US international tax law and FBAR compliance. We have successfully helped hundreds of clients from over seventy countries resolve their prior FBAR noncompliance concerning disclosure of their foreign bank and financial accounts. We can help you!

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Pakistani Bank Accounts FBAR & FATCA Compliance | International Tax Lawyer

Over the past couple of years, I have seen a rise in the number of clients with Pakistani bank accounts. This increase is undoubtedly tied to the last year’s changes to Pakistani tax laws, which now require a disclosure of certain foreign assets for certain Pakistani tax residents. These new laws created for the very first time awareness among Pakistani taxpayers that foreign assets may be subject to a separate disclosure. For Pakistanis who are also US Persons, this awareness created further inquiries into their US tax reporting of their Pakistani bank accounts. In this article, I will discuss the two most important US tax reporting requirements that may be applicable to US taxpayers with Pakistani bank accounts – FBAR and FATCA Form 8938.

Pakistani Bank Accounts: Income-Reporting Requirements

Before we delve into our discussion of FBAR and FATCA, it is important to address the income tax reporting requirements concerning foreign accounts in general as well as Pakistani accounts in particular. If you are a tax resident of the United States, you are subject to the worldwide income reporting requirement and you must disclose all income generated by your Pakistani bank accounts on your personal US tax return.

This is an absolute rule with almost no exceptions. It does not matter whether you live outside of the United States or reside in the United States, whether this income is brought to the United States or if it continues to accumulate in your foreign bank accounts, or whether you already paid Pakistani taxes on this income or not. As long as you are a tax resident of the United States, you must comply with the worldwide income reporting requirement.

This requirement applies to all reportable income as determined by US tax rules. I want to emphasize this point: the worldwide income reporting rule requires US tax residents to disclose all of their foreign income deemed reportable under the US tax rules, not the Pakistani rules. Since there are huge differences between the Pakistani tax code and the US Internal Revenue Code, this is a potential tax trap for US taxpayers with Pakistani bank accounts.

Pakistani Bank Accounts: Asset Disclosure In General

As I mentioned above, under FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) as well as the BSA (Bank Secrecy Act of 1970), Pakistani bank accounts may be subject to multiple asset disclosure requirements. FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR) and FATCA Form 8938 are undoubtedly the most important among these requirements.

Pakistani Bank Accounts: FBAR

The most important requirement that applies to US taxpayers with Pakistani bank accounts is FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as “FBAR”. As long they meet the filing threshold (see below), US taxpayers are required to disclose all of their Pakistani bank accounts over which they have signatory authority or in which they have a financial interest (i.e. they own an account directly or indirectly, either individually or jointly).

FBAR is a unique information return. The anomaly begins with the fact that FBAR is not technically a tax form, but a BSA form which is being administered by the IRS since the year 2001. This is why FBAR is not filed together with the tax return, but has to be e-filed separately through BSA website.

Second, FBAR also has a very low filing threshold – just $10,000. Moreover, this threshold is determined by taking the highest balances during a calendar year of all of the taxpayer’s foreign accounts (even if these accounts are located in another country in addition to Pakistan) and adding them all up. Sometimes, this results in significant over-reporting of a person’s actual balances, which easily satisfies the reporting threshold.

Finally, FBAR has the most severe noncompliance penalties among all information returns concerning foreign asset disclosure. Its penalties range from non-willful penalties (i.e. potentially a situation where a person simply did not know about FBAR’s existence) to extremely high civil willful penalties and even criminal penalties. In other words, in certain circumstances, FBAR noncompliance may result in actual jail time.

Pakistani Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

While a relative newcomer, FATCA Form 8938 quickly occupied a special place in US international tax compliance. It may appear that Form 8938 duplicates FBAR with respect to foreign bank account reporting, but there are very important differences between these forms. Let’s focus on the top five differences.

First of all, unlike FBAR, it is filed with a US tax return and forms part of the return. This means that the Form 8938 noncompliance may keep the statute of limitations open on the entire tax return indefinitely, potentially subjecting it to an IRS audit indefinitely.

Second, there are differences in how information concerning foreign accounts is being disclosed on FBAR and Form 8938. Form 8938 forces US taxpayers to disclose not only most of the information that is required to be reported on FBAR, but also such details as whether an account was opened or closed in the reporting year, whether it produced any income, how much income was produced, et cetera. This may give the IRS additional information necessary to determine if there was prior tax noncompliance with respect to these accounts.

Third, there are important substantive differences between these two forms with respect to what accounts have to be disclosed. For example, signatory authority accounts must be disclosed on FBAR, but Form 8938 has no such requirement. On the other hand, a bond certificate may not need to be reported on FBAR, but it must be disclosed on Form 8938. In general, Form 8938 is likely to apply to a wider range of Pakistani assets than FBAR; this is why it is often called the “catch-all” form.

Fourth, while FBAR penalties are extremely severe, Form 8938 sports its own arsenal of noncompliance penalties. While they are theoretically lower than FBAR penalties, the Form 8938 penalties may have an equivalent impact due to the fact that they have a much wider range. For example, Form 8938 noncompliance may lead to higher accuracy-related penalties with respect to income-tax noncompliance. A taxpayer’s ability to utilize foreign tax credit may also be impacted by the Form 8938 penalties.

Finally, unlike FBAR, Form 8938 comes with a third-party FATCA verification mechanism. Under FATCA, the IRS should receive foreign-account information not only from taxpayers who file Forms 8938, but also from their foreign financial institutions. This means that it is much easier for the IRS to identify Form 8938 noncompliance than that of FBAR. It also means that Form 8938 noncompliance may have a higher chance to be investigated and penalized by the IRS.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US Tax Reporting of Your Pakistani Bank Accounts

If you are a US Person who has undisclosed Pakistani bank accounts, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe to resolve their past FBAR and FATCA noncompliance, including with respect to financial accounts in Pakistan We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2020 FBAR Conversion Rates | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The 2020 FBAR conversion rates are highly important in US international tax compliance. The 2020 FBAR and 2020 Form 8938 instructions both require that 2020 FBAR conversion rates be used to report the required highest balances of foreign financial assets on these forms (in the case of Form 8938, the 2020 FBAR conversion rates is the default choice, not an exclusive one). In other words, the 2020 FBAR conversion rates are used to translate foreign-currency highest balances into US dollars for the purposes of FBAR and Form 8938 compliance.

The U.S. Department of Treasury  already published the 2020 FBAR conversion rates online (they are called “Treasury’s Financial Management Service rates” or the “FMS rates”).

Since the 2020 FBAR conversion rates are highly important to US taxpayers, international tax lawyers and international tax accountants, Sherayzen Law Office provides the table below listing the official 2020 FBAR conversion rates (note that the readers still need to refer to the official website for any updates).

Country – Currency Foreign Currency to $1.00
AFGHANISTAN – AFGHANI77.0900
ALBANIA – LEK100.3500
ALGERIA – DINAR132.2120
ANGOLA – KWANZA649.6000
ANTIGUA – BARBUDA – E. CARIBBEAN DOLLAR2.7000
ARGENTINA – PESO89.2500
ARMENIA – DRAM515.0000
AUSTRALIA – DOLLAR1.2940
AUSTRIA – EURO0.8150
AZERBAIJAN – NEW MANAT1.7000
BAHAMAS – DOLLAR1.0000
BAHRAIN – DINAR0.3770
BANGLADESH – TAKA85.0000
BARBADOS – DOLLAR2.0200
BELARUS – NEW RUBLE2.5980
BELGIUM – EURO0.8150
BELIZE – DOLLAR2.0000
BENIN – CFA FRANC529.0000
BERMUDA – DOLLAR1.0000
BOLIVIA – BOLIVIANO6.8100
BOSNIA – MARKA1.5940
BOTSWANA – PULA10.7990
BRAZIL – REAL5.1940
BRUNEI – DOLLAR1.3220
BULGARIA – LEV1.5940
BURKINA FASO – CFA FRANC529.0000
BURMA-KYAT1,326.0000
BURUNDI – FRANC1,930.6100
CAMBODIA (KHMER) – RIEL4,051.0000
CAMEROON – CFA FRANC529.2600
CANADA – DOLLAR1.2750
CAPE VERDE – ESCUDO89.8300
CAYMAN ISLANDS – DOLLAR0.8200
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – CFA FRANC529.2600
CHAD – CFA FRANC529.2600
CHILE – PESO709.7500
CHINA – RENMINBI6.5400
COLOMBIA – PESO3,414.5000
COMOROS – FRANC400.6200
CONGO – CFA FRANC529.2600
COSTA RICA – COLON609.1000
COTE D’IVOIRE – CFA FRANC529.0000
CROATIA – KUNA5.9500
CUBA – Chavito1.0000
CYPRUS – EURO0.8150
CZECH REPUBLIC – KORUNA20.7540
DEM. REP. OF CONGO – FRANC1,966.4800
DENMARK – KRONE6.0650
DJIBOUTI – FRANC177.0000
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – PESO58.1400
ECUADOR – DOLARES1.0000
EGYPT – POUND15.6900
EL SALVADOR – DOLARES1.0000
EQUATORIAL GUINEA – CFA FRANC529.2600
ERITREA – NAKFA15.0000
ESTONIA – EURO0.8150
ETHIOPIA – BIRR39.1810
EURO ZONE – EURO0.8150
FIJI – DOLLAR2.0040
FINLAND – EURO0.8150
FRANCE – EURO0.8150
GABON – CFA FRANC529.2600
GAMBIA – DALASI52.0000
GEORGIA – LARI3.2700
GERMANY – EURO0.8150
GHANA – CEDI5.8100
GREECE – EURO0.8150
GRENADA – EAST CARIBBEAN DOLLAR2.7000
GUATEMALA – QUENTZAL7.7800
GUINEA BISSAU – CFA FRANC529.0000
GUINEA – FRANC9,990.0000
GUYANA – DOLLAR215.0000
HAITI – GOURDE71.6060
HONDURAS – LEMPIRA25.0000
HONG KONG – DOLLAR7.7530
HUNGARY – FORINT296.7600
ICELAND – KRONA127.1100
INDIA – RUPEE73.0340
INDONESIA – RUPIAH14,028.0000
IRAN – RIAL42,000.0000
IRAQ – DINAR1,138.0000
IRELAND – EURO0.8150
ISRAEL – SHEKEL3.2130
ITALY – EURO0.8150
JAMAICA – DOLLAR150.0000
JAPAN – YEN103.0800
JORDAN – DINAR0.7080
KAZAKHSTAN – TENGE421.2700
KENYA – SHILLING109.1000
KOREA – WON1,087.6600
KOSOVO – EURO0.8150
KUWAIT – DINAR0.3040
KYRGYZSTAN – SOM82.6500
LAOS – KIP9,280.0000
LATVIA – EURO0.8150
LEBANON – POUND1,500.0000
LESOTHO – MALOTI14.6730
LIBERIA – DOLLAR163.0000
LIBYA – DINAR1.3330
LITHUANIA – EURO0.8150
LUXEMBOURG – EURO0.8150
MADAGASCAR – ARIARY3,824.8000
MALAWI – KWACHA820.0000
MALAYSIA – RINGGIT4.0200
MALDIVES – RUFIYAA15.4200
MALI – CFA FRANC529.0000
MALTA – EURO0.8150
MARSHALL ISLANDS – DOLLAR1.0000
MARTINIQUE – EURO0.8150
MAURITANIA – OUGUIYA37.0000
MAURITIUS – RUPEE39.5500
MEXICO – PESO19.9130
MICRONESIA – DOLLAR1.0000
MOLDOVA – LEU17.0800
MONGOLIA – TUGRIK2,849.7700
MONTENEGRO – EURO0.8150
MOROCCO – DIRHAM8.9170
MOZAMBIQUE – METICAL 74.2000
NAMIBIA – DOLLAR14.6730
NEPAL – RUPEE117.0000
NETHERLANDS – EURO0.8150
NETHERLANDS ANTILLES – GUILDER1.7800
NEW ZEALAND – DOLLAR1.3830
NICARAGUA – CORDOBA34.9000
NIGER – CFA FRANC529.0000
NIGERIA – NAIRA385.0000
NORWAY – KRONE8.5300
OMAN – RIAL0.3850
PAKISTAN – RUPEE159.7500
PANAMA – BALBOA1.0000
PANAMA – DOLARES1.0000
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – KINA3.5090
PARAGUAY – GUARANI6,891.9600
PERU – SOL3.6190
PHILIPPINES – PESO48.1730
POLAND – ZLOTY3.7130
PORTUGAL – EURO0.8150
QATAR – RIYAL3.6400
REP. OF N MACEDONIA – DINAR50.1300
REPUBLIC OF PALAU – DOLLAR1.0000
ROMANIA – NEW LEU 3.9660
RUSSIA – RUBLE74.4600
RWANDA – FRANC950.0000
SAO TOME & PRINCIPE – NEW DOBRAS20.0510
SAUDI ARABIA – RIYAL3.7500
SENEGAL – CFA FRANC529.0000
SERBIA – DINAR95.8000
SEYCHELLES – RUPEE20.9100
SIERRA LEONE – LEONE9,997.0000
SINGAPORE – DOLLAR1.3220
SLOVAK REPUBLIC – EURO0.8150
SLOVENIA – EURO0.8150
SOLOMON ISLANDS – DOLLAR7.7340
SOMALI – SHILLING575.0000
SOUTH AFRICA – RAND14.6730
SOUTH SUDANESE – POUND177.0000
SPAIN – EURO0.8150
SRI LANKA – RUPEE185.0000
ST LUCIA – E CARIBBEAN DOLLAR2.7000
SUDAN – SUDANESE POUND55.0000
SURINAME – GUILDER14.2900
SWAZILAND – LANGENI14.6730
SWEDEN – KRONA8.1720
SWITZERLAND – FRANC0.8810
SYRIA – POUND1,256.0000
TAIWAN – DOLLAR28.0740
TAJIKISTAN – SOMONI11.3250
TANZANIA – SHILLING2,314.0000
THAILAND – BAHT29.9200
TIMOR – LESTE DILI1.0000
TOGO – CFA FRANC529.0000
TONGA – PA’ANGA2.1980
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – DOLLAR6.6980
TUNISIA – DINAR2.6830
TURKEY – LIRA7.4240
TURKMENISTAN – NEW MANAT3.4910
UGANDA – SHILLING3,649.0000
UKRAINE – HRYVNIA28.3000
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DIRHAM3.6730
UNITED KINGDOM – POUND STERLING0.7320
URUGUAY – PESO42.1400
UZBEKISTAN – SOM10,471.9200
VANUATU – VATU106.2300
VENEZUELA – BOLIVAR SOBERANO1,104,430.5870
VENEZUELA – FUERTE (OLD)248,832.0000
VIETNAM – DONG23,070.0000
WESTERN SAMOA – TALA2.4440
YEMEN – RIAL480.0000
ZAMBIA – NEW KWACHA21.1400
ZIMBABWE – RTGS79.7420

2020 FBAR Deadline in 2021 | FinCEN Form 114 International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The 2020 FBAR deadline is one of the most important deadlines for US taxpayers this calendar year 2021. What makes FBAR so important are the draconian FBAR penalties which may be imposed on noncompliant taxpayers. Let’s discuss the 2020 FBAR deadline in more detail.

2020 FBAR Deadline: Background Information

The official name of FBAR is FinCEN Form 114, the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. US Persons must file FBAR if they have a financial interest in or signatory or any other authority over foreign financial accounts if the highest aggregate value of these accounts is in excess of $10,000. FBARs must be timely e-filed separately from federal tax returns.

Failure to file an FBAR may result in the imposition of heavy FBAR penalties. The FBAR penalties vary from criminal penalties and willful penalties to non-willful penalties. You can find more details about FBAR penalties in this article.

2020 FBAR Deadline: Pre-2016 FBAR Deadline

For the years preceding 2016, US persons needed to file FBARs by June 30 of each year. For example, the 2013 FBAR was due on June 30, 2014. No filing extensions were allowed.

The last FBAR that followed the June 30 deadline was the 2015 FBAR; its due date was June 30, 2016. Due to the six-year FBAR statute of limitations, however, it is important to remember this history for the purpose of offshore voluntary disclosures and IRS FBAR audits. The 2015 FBAR’s statute of limitations will expire only on June 30, 2022.

2020 FBAR Deadline: Changes to FBAR Deadline Starting with the 2016 FBAR

For many years, the strange FBAR filing rules greatly confused US taxpayers. First of all, it was difficult to learn about the existence of the form. Second, many taxpayers simply missed the unusual FBAR filing deadline.

The US Congress took action in 2015 to alleviate this problem. As it usually happens, it did so when it passed a law that, on its surface, had nothing to do with FBARs. 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 (which continues to this date), the IRS granted to US taxpayers an automatic extension of the FBAR filing deadline to October 15. Taxpayers do not need to make any specific requests in order for an extension to be granted.

Thus, starting with the 2016 FBAR, the Act adjusted the FBAR due date to coincide with the federal income tax filing deadlines. This is the case even if federal law requires a different filing date. For example, 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; the FBAR deadline will follow suit and also shift to the next business day.

2020 FBAR Deadline

Based on the current law, the 2020 FBAR deadline will be April 15, 2021. However, it is automatically extended to October 15, 2021.

The 2020 FBAR must be e-filed through the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) BSA E-filing system.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your FBAR Compliance

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts, contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in US international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe with their FBAR compliance and FBAR voluntary disclosures; and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2020 FBAR Criminal Penalties | FBAR International Tax Lawyers

2020 FBAR criminal penalties is a potential threat to any US taxpayer who willfully failed to file his FBARs or knowingly filed a false FBAR. In this essay, I would like to review the 2020 FBAR criminal penalties that these noncompliant US taxpayers may have to face.

2020 FBAR Criminal Penalties: Background Information

A lot of US taxpayers do not understand why the 2020 FBAR criminal penalties are so shockingly severe. 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 initially created to combat tax evasion.

Rather, FBAR criminal 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 allegedly to fight terrorism. Instead, 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 existing penalties and created an new non-willful penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

2020 FBAR Criminal Penalties: Description

Now that we understand why the 2020 FBAR criminal penalties are so severe, let’s describe what these penalties actually may be. There are three different 2020 FBAR criminal penalties associated with different FBAR violations.

First, a 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.

Second, 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 may be penalized 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, contact Sherayzen Law Office 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 resolve their past FBAR noncompliance while reducing and, in some cases, even eliminating their FBAR penalties.

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