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IRS Issues FBAR Fact Sheet | FBAR FATCA Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On April 4, 2019, the IRS issued the FBAR Fact Sheet in order to acquaint US taxpayers with this highly important reporting requirement for foreign accounts held by US persons. Let’s analyze the new fact sheet in more detail.

FBAR Fact Sheet: Organizational Structure of the Fact Sheet

The IRS FBAR Fact Sheet can be divided into seven parts: (1) introduction to FBAR and the need to report foreign accounts to the IRS; (2) identification of who needs to file FBARs; (3) explanation of how to file FBARs (including special cases such as joint accounts and the determination of highest balances); (4) discussion of Form 8938 and FBAR; (5) amended and late FBARs; (6) description of FBAR recordkeeping requirements; and (7) more IRS resources concerning FBAR. These parts are not clearly delineated in the Fact Sheet; rather, they are summaries of various information that this brochure contains.

FBAR Fact Sheet: Introduction to FBAR

The IRS FBAR Fact Sheet commences with the warning to US taxpayers that they are required to report their foreign bank and financial accounts even if they do not produce any interest income. April 15 is identified as the critical deadline for these taxpayers. Later, the IRS also states that there is an extension available for FBARs. Again, the IRS did not do a very good job in organizing the Fact Sheet.

FBAR Fact Sheet: Who Needs to File FBARs?

Then, the IRS Fact Sheet finally introduces FBAR and states that it was created by the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act; there is no discussion of the significance of this legal history. Then, the IRS focuses on the persons who may have to file FBARs and introduces the concept of “US Person”. It defines US person as a “citizen or resident of the United States or any domestic legal entity such as a partnership, corporation, limited liability company, estate or trust.”

There is a hidden trap in this IRS definition. “Resident of the United States” does not only include US permanent residents (as most non-lawyers would read it), but also US tax residents. I encourage the readers to read this article with respect to the definition of “resident” for FBAR purposes.

The IRS also defines “United States” for FBAR purposes. The readers can read this article published by Sherayzen Law Office for a more detailed analysis of this concept.

FBAR Fact Sheet: How to File FBARs

This part of the FBAR Fact Sheet focuses on the details concerning how to file FBAR electronically. The IRS cautions taxpayers that FBAR should not be filed with their federal tax returns.

Then, the IRS discusses in more detail certain special cases such as joint accounts and US retirement accounts. The IRS finishes this part of the FBAR fact sheet with the discussion on the determination of the highest value of a foreign account.

FBAR Fact Sheet: Form 8938 & FBAR

In this part of the Fact Sheet, the IRS introduces taxpayers to an existence of another requirement concerning foreign accounts, FATCA Form 8938. The IRS urges the readers to search the IRS website with respect to this form and how it compares to FBAR.

FBAR Fact Sheet: Amended and Late FBARs

The next part of the Fact Sheet focuses on amended and late FBARs. First, the IRS discusses how to amend an FBAR. Then, the IRS states that, as soon as a taxpayer learns that he did not file the required FBARs, he needs to e-file them. At that point, the IRS casually discusses that there is space available on the form to explain the reason for late filing. Finally, the IRS describes the severe FBAR criminal penalties, stating the following: “the IRS will not penalize those who properly report a foreign financial account on a late filed FBAR, and the IRS finds they have reasonable cause for late filing.”

Sherayzen Law Office believes that the IRS has not done a good job in this part of the Fact Sheet. It has completely failed to emphasize the importance of seeking a legal advice prior to filing a late FBAR. A taxpayer may get the wrong impression that he should file a late FBAR as soon as possible before exploring the options on how to do it in a way that protects him from excessive FBAR penalties.

Moreover, the IRS also failed to emphasize the importance of offshore voluntary disclosure with respect to late FBARs. Besides a casual mention of an “IRS compliance program”, there is nothing about the various available voluntary disclosure options for US taxpayers who are filing late FBARs. The IRS does not refer at all to the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures.

FBAR Fact Sheet: Recordkeeping Requirements

In the next part of the Fact Sheet, the IRS discusses how many years the FBAR filers need to keep the supporting documentation and copies of FBARs. Curiously, the IRS states that the filers should keep the documents for five years from the due date of FBAR, but the FBAR Statute of Limitations is six years.

Sherayzen Law Office does not believe that the IRS advice is correct here. We urge FBAR filers to keep their FBAR records and copies of the filed FBARs for six to ten years.

FBAR Fact Sheet: IRS Resources

The IRS concludes its FBAR Fact Sheet with the discussion of additional available resources to US taxpayers, including FBAR hotline and Publication 4261.

Sherayzen Law Office’s View of the FBAR Fact Sheet

We believe that the FBAR Fact Sheet can serve only as a general introduction to FBAR, but it is not sufficient to provide US taxpayers with sufficient guidance on how to properly deal with late FBARs. On the contrary, a US taxpayer may actually put himself in a worse legal position if he only relies on the Fact Sheet to file his late FBARs.

If you should have filed FBARs but you have not done so, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. As the IRS states in its FBAR Fact Sheet, the FBAR penalties are extremely severe. Hence, it is important to approach any FBAR violations with an extreme caution and retain Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to deal with late FBARs, and We Can Help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

FinCEN Form 114 Business Filers | FBAR Lawyer & Attorney Delaware

In a previous article, I described individuals who need to file FinCEN Form 114. This essay is a continuation of the same series of articles concerning FinCEN Form 114 filers. Today, I will devote my attention to FinCEN Form 114 Business Filers.

FinCEN Form 114 Business Filers: FBAR Filing Requirement

We first need to understand what Form 114 is. The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114 also known as “FBAR”, is one of the most important information returns administered by the IRS since 2001 (the form itself has existed since 1970). FBAR requires a US person to disclose his financial interest in or signatory authority (or any other authority) over foreign bank and financial accounts as long as the highest balance of these accounts, in the aggregate, exceeds $10,000 at any point during a calendar year.

FBAR is the creation of the Bank Secrecy Act, Title 31 of the United States Code (“USC”). In other words, it is technically not a tax form. In fact, its original purpose was to fight financial crimes.

Due to this legal history, FBAR has a ruthless yet highly elaborate penalty system. FBAR penalties range from criminal penalties that include incarceration to the astonishingly high willful and even non-willful civil penalties. This severe penalty system makes FBAR one of the most dangerous US international information returns.

FinCEN Form 114 Business Filers: General Definition

As described above, only US persons are required to file FBARs. There are various categories of US persons: individuals, businesses, trusts and estates. Our focus today is on business filers.

The general rule is that a business entity is considered a US person if it was created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States. There are two terms that we need to understand within this general rule in order to the rule apply correctly: entity and the United States.

FinCEN Form 114 Business Filers: Entity

For FBAR purposes, the word “entity” is defined broadly to include without limitation a corporation, a partnership and a limited liability company. This term applies even if a business is a disregarded entity for US tax purposes.

In other words, a single member limited liability company is required to file an FBAR if it has foreign accounts that satisfy the FBAR filing threshold. Again, the reason for applying the legal, rather than a tax a definition of “entity”, is driven by the FBAR’s legal history; it is a Title 31 requirement, not a Title 26 (i.e. the Internal Revenue Code) requirement.

FinCEN Form 114 Business Filers: Definition of the United States

I have already explored the FBAR definition of the United States in another article. Hence, I will only briefly state the rule here. 31 CFR 1010.100(hhh) defines the United States for FBAR purposes 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.

Thus, a business entity formed in Guam is considered a US person for FBAR purposes. Similarly, a partnership formed in Delaware by two non-resident aliens is also a US person. Even an entity created under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will still be a US person. If these entities have foreign financial and bank accounts which exceed the FBAR filing threshold, they will also be considered FinCEN Form 114 business filers.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional FBAR Help

If you are a US business entity which maintains foreign accounts outside of the United States, please consider contacting Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal help. We have extensive experience in helping US businesses to comply with their FBAR requirements as well as to remedy their past FBAR noncompliance through an offshore voluntary disclosure.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

This article focuses on FinCEN Form 114 business filers and is part of the series of articles on FinCEN Form 114 filers. The series began with the article that FBAR and Form 114a are the same form, then another article on the FBAR definition of the United States and still another article on the FinCEN Form 114 Filers (with the focus on the individual filers). Future articles are planned to continue this series.

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!

FBAR Filing: FinCEN’s Third Extension for Certain Signatory Authority Filers

In FinCEN Notice 2012-2, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a third extension of time for certain Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) filings in light of ongoing consideration of questions regarding the filing requirement and its application to individuals with signature authority over but no financial interest in certain types of accounts. The new extended deadline is set for June 30, 2014.

This extended filing deadline applies only to the following classes of individuals:

1). An employee or officer of a covered entity (see 31 C.F.R. § 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v)) who has signature or other authority over and no financial interest in a foreign financial account of another entity more than 50 percent owned, directly or indirectly, by the entity (a “controlled person”). For this purpose, a “controlled person” is a U.S. or foreign entity that is more than 50% owned (directly or indirectly) by an excepted entity.
2). An employee or officer of a controlled person of a covered entity (see 31 C.F.R. § 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v)) who has signature or other authority over and no financial interest in a foreign financial account of the entity or another controlled person of the entity.
3). An employee or officer of an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission who has signature or other authority over and no financial interest in a foreign financial account of persons that are not investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Notice that categories 1 and 2 do not apply to companies that are not publicly traded or not SEC-registrants.

This extension comes after a series of earlier extensions by FinCEN. On February 14, 2012, FinCEN issued Notice 2012-1 to extend the filing date for FinCEN Form 114 Formerly TD F 90-22.1, FBAR, for certain individuals with signature authority over but no financial interest in one or more foreign financial accounts to June 30, 2013. This Notice was preceded by two earlier extensions: on May 31, 2011, FinCEN issued Notice 2011-1 (revised on June 2, 2011) to extend to June 30, 2012, the due date for filing the FBAR for certain individuals with signature authority over but no financial interest in one or more foreign financial accounts, specifically individuals whose FBAR filing requirements may be affected by the signature authority filing exceptions in 31 CFR § 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v). On June 17, 2011, FinCEN issued Notice 2011-2 similarly extending the FBAR filing due date to June 30, 2012, for certain employees or officers of investment advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission who have signature authority over but no financial interest in certain foreign financial accounts.

The extension contained in FinCEN Notice 2012-2 is the third filing extension for individuals with signature authority over but no financial interest in certain types of accounts. It covers not only the reporting of signature authority held by such persons for 2012, but also for all other years for which filing was previously extended to June 30, 2012, under FinCEN Notices 2011-1 and 2011-2.

It is important to note, however, that all other taxpayers who are required to file an FBAR must still do so by June 30, 2013.