I often receive calls from prospective clients who talk about FBAR voluntary disclosure. They usually have no clear idea of what is meant by this term and what its requirements are. In this article, I will discuss this concept of FBAR Voluntary Disclosure and explain how this concept covers a variety of offshore voluntary disclosure options.
FBAR Voluntary Disclosure: What is FBAR?
Before we discuss the meaning of FBAR Voluntary Disclosure, we need to understand what “FBAR” is. FBAR is an acronym for Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, officially known as FinCEN Form 114. US Persons must file FBAR to report their financial interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over foreign bank and financial accounts if the aggregate value of these accounts exceeds $10,000 at any point during a calendar year.
FBAR Voluntary Disclosure: Why FBAR Compliance Is So Important?
US taxpayers who fail to comply with their FBAR obligations may find themselves in an extremely difficult legal position, because FBAR has a highly complex and an exceptionally severe penalty system, which includes even criminal penalties for FBAR noncompliance. The form’s civil penalties include not only willful penalties, but also non-willful penalties – i.e. the IRS can assess FBAR penalties even if a taxpayer’s failure to file his FBARs was unintentional and accidental.
FBAR Voluntary Disclosure: What is Voluntary Disclosure?
“Voluntary disclosure” is a process by which taxpayers voluntarily self-correct their past noncompliance. When this process involves foreign assets, it is called “offshore voluntary disclosure”.
FBAR Voluntary Disclosure: Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Options (Tax Year 2020)
The IRS has created a number of voluntary disclosure programs to encourage taxpayers to come forward and correct their past US tax noncompliance. These offshore voluntary disclosure options include: Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures (effectively discontinued several weeks ago), IRS Criminal Investigation Voluntary Disclosure Practice (used to be called “Traditional IRS Voluntary Disclosure”) and the now-closed OVDP (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Process) and OVDI (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative).
Moreover, there is also a voluntary disclosure based on Reasonable Cause exception that is sometimes called “noisy disclosure”. This is not an official IRS voluntary disclosure program, but simply a voluntary disclosure venue based on specific provisions in the Internal Revenue Code.
Finally, some taxpayers attempt to do “quiet disclosures”. A quiet disclosure can mean a range of actions voluntarily taken by a taxpayer to comply with US international tax laws without officially informing the IRS about his past noncompliance with them. In other words, a taxpayer never takes advantage of any of the voluntary disclosure options and does not claim Reasonable Cause Exception defense; rather, he either files amended tax returns or simply starts to comply with US international tax laws without doing anything about his past noncompliance.
The IRS strongly disfavors quiet disclosures and does not consider them to be voluntary disclosures. In fact, the IRS has officially stated that the agency will try to identify the taxpayers who are doing it and audit them in order to impose penalties for past noncompliance.
FBAR Voluntary Disclosure Versus Offshore Voluntary Disclosure
You probably already noticed that I never listed “FBAR Voluntary Disclosure” as a voluntary disclosure option. The reason is because it is not an official voluntary disclosure option. Rather, FBAR Voluntary Disclosure is merely a term that refers to any offshore voluntary disclosure option involving past FBAR noncompliance (such as Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures).
Hence, when a prospective client calls me to discuss his FBAR voluntary disclosure, I know that he does not mean any specific offshore voluntary disclosure program but merely wishes to know what option he should use to voluntarily correct his past FBAR noncompliance.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office About Your FBAR Voluntary Disclosure
If you have not filed your required FBARs for prior years, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in offshore voluntary disclosures involving FBARs – this is our core specialty.
We have filed thousands of FBARs for hundreds of clients all over the world. We have prepared hundreds of voluntary disclosures under all offshore voluntary disclosure options, including Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures. We can help you!