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FBAR United States Definition | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney Minneapolis MN

The United States is defined differently with respect to different parts (and, sometimes even within the same part) of the United States Code. There is a specific definition of the United States for FBAR Purposes. In this brief essay, I would like to discuss the FBAR United States Definition and explain its importance to FBAR compliance.

Importance of FBAR United States Definition to FinCEN Form 114

Before we discuss the FBAR United States Definition, we need to the context in which it is used and why it is important for US international tax purposes. FBAR is a common acronym for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114. It used to be known under a different name – TD F 90-22.1.

FBAR is part of Title 31, Bank Secrecy Act, but the IRS has administered FBAR since 2001. The IRS primarily uses FBAR not to fight financial crimes (which was its original purpose), but for tax enforcement. In particular, the IRS found that FBAR is an extremely useful tool for combating tax evasion associated with a strategy of hiding money in secret foreign bank accounts.

FBAR’s draconian penalties is what makes this form the favorite with the IRS, but much hated by US taxpayers. The penalties range from a jail sentence to civil willful penalties and even civil non-willful penalties which may exceed a taxpayer’s net worth.

It is precisely these penalties which make it absolutely necessary for US taxpayers to understand when they need to file FBARs. One of the aspects of this understanding is the FBAR United States Definition, which allows one to determine two things. First, the FBAR United States Definition is used to define the United States for the purposes of the Substantial Presence Test. Second, the FBAR United States Definition allows one to classify bank accounts as foreign or domestic for FBAR compliance purposes.

FBAR United States Definition

31 CFR 1010.100(hhh) contains the FBAR United States Definition. Under this provision, the United States is defined as: the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Indian Lands (as defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) and the territories and insular possessions of the United States. As of February 3, 2019, the US territories and insular possessions refer to: Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional FBAR Help

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their FBAR issues, and We can help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2015 FBAR (FinCEN Form 114) Due on June 30, 2016

2015 FBAR is one of the most important tax information returns required by the IRS this year. While the 2015 FBAR is not the most complicated form, it is definitely the one that is associated with the most severe penalties.

2015 FBAR History

The FBAR is an abbreviation for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (the “FBAR”). The current official name of the FBAR is FinCEN Form 114 (prior to mandatory e-filing, Form TD F 90-22.1 was the name of the FBAR).

Many of my clients are surprised to learn that FBAR is a tax information return with a long history, dating back to the late 1970s. Its origin lies in the Bank Secrecy Act (31 U.S.C. §5311 et seq.) and it was originally meant to combat money laundering. However, after September 11, 2001, the FBAR enforcement was turned over to the IRS and it became a tax-enforcement tool of heretofore unimaginable power due to its heavy penalties.

Who is Required to File 2015 FBAR

The Department of Treasury (the “Treasury”) requires that an FBAR is filed whenever a US person has a financial interest in or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts and the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. If you had such a situation in 2015, then you must seek an advice from an FBAR lawyer on whether you need to file the 2015 FBAR.

2015 FBAR Deadline

2015 FBAR must be e-filed with the IRS by June 30, 2016; there are no extensions available – the 2015 FBAR must be received by the IRS no later than June 30, 2016.

Consequences of Failure to File Your 2015 FBAR Timely

If your 2015 FBAR is not timely filed, then it will be considered delinquent and might be subject to severe FBAR civil and criminal penalties, depending on your circumstances. It is also important to point out that an incorrect or incomplete 2015 FBAR will also be considered delinquent with the higher possibility of imposition of the FBAR’s draconian penalties.

Multiple Years of FBAR Delinquency

If you did not file the FBARs in the prior years and you were required to do so, this situation is extremely dangerous (especially in our FATCA-dominated world) and may result in imposition of multiple FBAR penalties. This is why you should seek advice of an experienced FBAR lawyer as soon as possible

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Assistance with Your FBAR Compliance

If you have not filed your FBARs previously and you were required to do so, contact Sherayzen Law Office for help as soon as possible. Our team of experienced tax professionals, headed by attorney Eugene Sherayzen, has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to lower and even eliminate their FBAR penalties. We can help You!

Contact Us NOW to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation

FBAR Criminal Prosecution and Smaller Banks: The Case of Wegelin

On January 3, 2013, Wegelin & Co., the oldest Swiss private bank announced that it will close down following its guilty plea to criminal charges of conspiracy to help wealthy U.S. taxpayers evade taxes through secret financial accounts. The guilty plea and the closure of one of the most prestigious European banks that served its clients since the year 1741 constitute big victories for the U.S. authorities. It surely will inspire additional movement of non-compliant U.S. taxpayers into the 2012 OVDP (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) as well as ensure more widespread compliance with the FBAR, Form 8938 and other numerous international tax forms required by the IRS.

However, in addition to its significance to U.S. tax compliance, the Wegelin case also has other interesting features that may point to future trends in the IRS international tax enforcement. In this article, I will outline these trends and explore their potential implications for U.S. tax enforcement.

Jurisdiction to Prosecute Foreign Banks: Minimal Contact Will Suffice

In order to criminally charge a foreign bank, U.S. tax authorities need to establish some connection between the United States and the foreign bank. It appears that after the Wegelin case, proving U.S. exposure will not a be a significant problem for the IRS.

The main reason for Wegelin’s bold defiant behavior (Wegelin specifically advertised itself as a safe, tax-free alternative to U.S. taxpayers who were fleeing UBS after criminal prosecution charges were filed against UBS in 2008) was its deep belief that it cannot be criminally prosecuted in the United States because U.S. tax authorities have no jurisdiction over it. Unlike UBS, Wegelin had virtually no physical presence in the United States, no operating divisions and no branch offices in the United States.

However, Wegelin miscalculated. The IRS discovered that Wegelin did have presence in the United States because it “directly accessed” the U.S. banking system through a correspondent account that it held at UBS AG (“UBS”) in Stamford, Connecticut. The Justice Department successfully argued that this one correspondent account was sufficient to give the United States government the jurisdiction to criminally charge Wegelin.

Hence, one of the biggest consequences of the Wegelin case is that it will not be difficult for the U.S. tax authorities to establish jurisdiction to criminally charge foreign banks even with very insignificant presence in the United States.

Size Matters: Increased Risk for Smaller Banks

The other important lesson of the Wegelin case is that it appears that the IRS is more likely to aggressively pursue smaller banks than the bigger banks the demise of which can cause systemic instability in the world economy.

The collapse of Wegelin stands in stark contrast to the survival of its bigger Swiss rival, UBS. UBS offered pretty much the same services to U.S. taxpayers as Wegelin involving vastly larger number of U.S. persons and amounts of money (at the very least, 20 billion dollars versus Wegelin’s 1.2 billion dollars). The IRS did file criminal charges against UBS, but UBS entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and charges were dropped eighteen months later.

It could be that some of the aggressiveness of the U.S. government came precisely from Wegelin’s defiant stance. In order to reinforce its recent victory in the UBS case, the IRS had to adopt a more assertive stand. However, it did not necessarily have to end in Wegelin’s demise.

Some commentators argued that Wegelin was already a shadow of its former self at the time of its closure, because it aggressively sold-off all of its non-US related assets. Therefore, it may be argued that it is premature to draw general conclusions from the Wegelin’s case about the risks facing small foreign banks who find themselves indicted by the U.S. government. On the other hand, the very fact that Wegelin decided that it would be better for the bank to sell off its assets rather than fight the IRS and the fact that the U.S. government was not concerned about this decision do point to a conclusion that the Wegelin case may be demonstrative of the general vulnerability of smaller banks in such situations.

Unresolved Issues: Client Information and Sold-Off Practice

One of the most important issues, however, is still unresolved in the Wegelin case and makes it worthwhile to observe to its end. The issue is: will the bank disclose the names of its U.S. clients to the IRS?

Typically, disclosure of the names of U.S. taxpayers constitutes a key request by the IRS in such major investigations. Therefore, it does not seem likely that the IRS will simply leave this issue without at least attempting to obtain the names of non-compliant U.S. taxpayers as part of the final deal.

The other unresolved issue is whether a strategy similar to Wegelin’s sale of its non-US accounts to the Austrian Bank Raiffeisen just before the indictment is going to challenged by the IRS if the sale does involve U.S. clients and maybe even if it does not (especially where the bank is left without any assets). It is not known if we are going to get an answer at this time, but it is likely that this issue will show up again in a future case.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Voluntary Disclosure of Foreign Financial Accounts

If you have undisclosed offshore accounts (whether in the hard-hit Switzerland or any other country) , you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore the voluntary disclosure options available in your case. Our experienced voluntary disclosure firm will thoroughly review your case, explore available options, propose a definite plan for moving forward, prepare all of the necessary legal documents and tax forms, and guide you though the entire case while rigorously representing your interests in your negotiations with the IRS.

FBAR (Report on Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) is due on June 30, 2011

Pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act, 31 U.S.C. §5311 et seq., the Department of Treasury (the “DOT”) has established certain recordkeeping and filing requirements for United States persons with financial interests in or signature authority (and other comparable authority) over financial accounts maintained with financial institutions in foreign countries. If the aggregate balances of such foreign accounts exceed $10,000 at any time during the relevant year, FinCEN Form 114 formerly Form TD F 90-22.1 (the FBAR form) must be filed with the DOT.

The FBAR must be filed by June 30 of each relevant year, including this year (2011).  Notice – this year’s FBAR must be received by the DOT on June 30, 2011.  This rule is contrary to your regular tax returns where the mailing date determines whether the filing is timely.  There are no extensions available – the FBAR must be received by June 30 or it will be considered delinquent.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding whether you need to file the FBAR or how to prepare the form, please contact Sherayzen Law Office directly.  Our experienced international tax firm will guide you through this complex tax issue.