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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!

Usefulness of FBARs for the IRS and DOJ | International Tax Law Firm

The usefulness of FBARs for the U.S. tax enforcement agencies may seem to be an odd issue, but, in reality, it concerns every taxpayer with foreign bank and financial accounts. Why the FBAR is important and how the IRS and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) utilize it in their prosecution tactics is the subject of this essay.

Two Periods of the Usefulness of FBARs

In describing the usefulness of FBARs, one can distinguish two distinct periods of time. The first period lasted from the time FBAR came into existence in the 1970s through most of the year 2001. It is definitely a simplification to place this entire period of time into one category, but this simplification is intentional in order to contrast this first period of usefulness of FBARs with the second one.

The second period commenced right after the FBAR enforcement function was turned over to the IRS in 2001 and it continues through the present time. In this period of time, the usefulness of FBARs was expanded to a completely different level. It is important to point out, however, that it has not lost its original usefulness that dominated the first period of time of its existence.

Usefulness of FBARs Prior to 2001

Prior to 2001, the main purpose of FBAR had been the enforcement leverage in prosecution of financial crimes. This leverage came from the draconian FBAR penalties which often would offer a worse outcome than the statute associated with a criminal activity (especially after a plea deal). Moreover, it was much easier for prosecutors to establish an FBAR violation (any failure to report a foreign account on the FBAR would do) than to prove specific criminal activity.

The usage of FBAR prosecutions was particularly useful in money laundering cases where it was difficult to prove specified unlawful activities and certain criminal tax cases where it was difficult to establish the receipt of illicit income. In such criminal cases, instead of charging criminals solely with tax evasion or money laundering activities, the prosecutors would opt for charging the criminals with a (willful and/or criminal) failure to file an FBAR that occurred while the defendants engaged in a criminal activity. It was easier to get a plea deal this way, because, obviously, criminals would not report the foreign accounts used in a criminal activity on FBARs.

Why was the usefulness of FBARs limited to being an enforcement leverage; in other words, why were FBARs not used for collection of data? After all, FBAR was born out of the Bank Secrecy Act and its stated purpose was to collect data with respect to foreign bank and financial accounts owed by US persons.

The answer is fairly simple – there was no third-party verification mechanism for the data submitted on FBARs. In other words, the FBAR reporting was completely dependent on honest self-reporting (in fact, this is one of the reasons for the creation of FATCA) and, unless, an investigation was conducted with respect to a specific individual, there was no direct way for FinCEN to corroborate the information submitted on FBARs.

It is important to emphasize that, in this first period of its existence, the usefulness of FBARs was primarily non-tax in nature. It was not until after September 11, 2001, that FBAR commenced to acquire a new level of usefulness with which we are familiar today.

Usefulness of FBARs After 2001

The usefulness of FBARs underwent a tremendous change after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, the enforcement of FBARs was taken away from FinCEN and given to the IRS.

The IRS decided to shift the scope of the usefulness of FBARs from financial crimes to tax evasion. The Congress wholeheartedly agreed and further expanded the already-severe FBAR penalties in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 to their current draconian state. From that point on, FBAR became the top international tax compliance enforcement mechanism for the IRS.

The potential FBAR penalties were so extreme that even non-willful taxpayers preferred to enter IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (and, later, Streamlined Compliance Procedures) and pay the appropriate Offshore Penalties rather than to directly confront the potential consequences of FBAR noncompliance. In other words, the usefulness of FBARs expanded further to indirect tax enforcement.

Furthermore, the UBS case victory in 2008 and the enaction of FATCA in 2010 meant that the IRS could now obtain FBAR-required information from third parties (foreign financial institutions) and verify a taxpayer’s compliance with the FBAR requirements. This further reinforced the FBARs already dominant position in US international tax compliance.

This FBARs dominance in the tax enforcement with respect to foreign accounts continues even today despite the appearance of a rival – Form 8938 (born out of FATCA). While Form 8938 has a broader scope of reportable assets, its penalty structure is highly inferior to the terrifying FBAR penalties.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with FBAR Compliance

If you have foreign bank and financial accounts that were not disclosed on FBARs as required, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. as soon as possible. Sherayzen Law Office is an experienced international tax law firm that has helped hundreds of US taxpayers with their delinquent FBARs, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Seattle FBAR Lawyer | IRS FATCA International Tax Attorney

I recently received a phone call from a person who was looking for a Seattle FBAR lawyer online and found my website. He asked me whether I can help him even though Sherayzen Law Office is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I responded to him: “yes, I can help you”.

This conversation brought to light an important topic of who should be considered a Seattle FBAR Lawyer and why an international tax lawyer based in Minneapolis can help a client in Seattle with FBAR issues.

Seattle FBAR Lawyer Definition: Legal FBAR Services Provided in Seattle, Washington

There are two categories of lawyers that fit the term Seattle FBAR Lawyer. The first category consists of US international tax lawyers who reside in Seattle and offer FBAR services to the residents of Seattle. The second category is comprised of US international tax lawyers who reside outside of Seattle but offer FBAR services to the residents of Seattle.

The first category is clear – if a lawyer resides in Seattle and offers FBAR services, he is considered to be a Seattle FBAR Lawyer. The question is: why is a lawyer who resides outside of Seattle still considered a Seattle FBAR lawyer? The answer lies in the legal nature of FBARs. FBAR is a federal information return, not a local requirement of Seattle or the State of Washington. This means that any licensed US international tax lawyer can offer FBAR services in any of the 50 states and the District of Columbia irrespective of his physical location. This is why a lawyer who resides in Minneapolis can offer FBAR legal services in Seattle with the same ease as a lawyer who resides in Seattle.

Seattle FBAR Lawyer Must Be US International Tax Lawyer

It should be emphasized that, while the residence of a Seattle FBAR Lawyer is not relevant, his area of practice is highly important. A Seattle FBAR lawyer must be an international tax lawyer – i.e. a lawyer who not only knows how to complete FBARS, but who has profound knowledge of US international tax law and the place the FBARs occupy in this law.

This emphasis is based on the fact that FBAR is only a small part of a much larger area of US international tax law. Indeed, there is a deep and complex relationship between the FBAR and international tax law that determines the legal position of a client and the potential voluntary disclosure strategies associated with delinquent FBARs.

This is why your Seattle FBAR lawyer should have deep knowledge of and extensive experience in both FBARs and all related US international tax laws and regulations.

Sherayzen Law Office Can Be Your Seattle FBAR Lawyer

Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm that specializes in FBARs and international tax law. Our legal and accounting team has both: a profound knowledge of this area of law and extensive experience in helping clients with international tax law issues, including offshore voluntary compliance with respect to delinquent FBARs. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers worldwide with their FBAR issues and we can help You!

Contact Sherayzen Law Office today to schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Seattle FBAR Attorney | FATCA International Tax Lawyer

Due to Seattle’s proximity to Canada and a large amount of foreign professionals employed by high-tech firms (especially Microsoft), there is a large number of residents of Seattle, Washington, who have an obligation to report their foreign accounts. The great majority of these people need the assistance of professional Seattle FBAR attorney, but they find it difficult to decide who to retain. Often, they find that the attorney who they like lives outside of Seattle (for example, in Minneapolis) and they are not sure if they should prefer him over local Seattle FBAR Attorneys. This short essay is devoted to defining the term Seattle FBAR Attorney and the description of the main criteria which should guide you in retaining your Seattle FBAR Attorney.

Seattle FBAR Attorney: Definition

The term Seattle FBAR Attorney includes two groups of FBAR attorneys. First, all of the FBAR Attorneys who reside in Seattle, Washington, should be considered Seattle FBAR Attorneys.

The second group includes all FBAR Attorneys who reside outside of Seattle but offer their FBAR services to the residents of Seattle. Hence, the geographical location of your FBAR Attorney does not actually matter, only the geographical scope of his FBAR services.

Why is this case? The answer is relatively simple – FBAR is a federal compliance requirement. This means that neither the State of Washington nor the city of Seattle have anything to do with it.

Seattle FBAR Attorney: Knowledge of International Tax Law and FBARs is the Key Criteria for Retainer

Now that we know who is considered to be a Seattle FBAR Attorney, we can turn to the key criteria for choosing the right Seattle FBAR Attorney. There are two main considerations in choosing your FBAR Attorney: professional and personal.

The professional criteria consists of the requirement that your Seattle FBAR Attorney be an international tax lawyer with a lot of experience working with FBAR and FBAR-related issues.
It is not enough for your attorney to simply know what the FBARs are and how to prepare them. FBAR issues are often deeply intertwined with other US international tax requirements that determine a taxpayer’s legal and tax positions. Therefore, your Seattle FBAR Attorney must have profound knowledge of other related international tax law issues, regulations and compliance requirements.

In addition to the knowledge of the subject-matter (i.e. “objective criteria”), there is also a subjective criteria – do you feel he is devoted to your case. The issue of trust is the most important consideration here – both the client and the attorney will feel frustrated with the case if there is a deep distrust between them. This distrust may have a great influence on the outcome of the case.

Thus, in retaining your Seattle FBAR Attorney, you need to be looking for an international tax attorney who satisfies both criteria.

Seattle FBAR Attorney: Means of Communication is Not an Issue

Is there a difference between the ability to communicate with an out-of-state Seattle FBAR Attorney and a local one? Should this issue become part of the retainer criteria?

The answer is “no”: the objective ability to communicate (i.e. the availability of the modes of communication, rather than an attorney’s personal attitude toward communicating with a client) is not an issue in retaining a Seattle FBAR Attorney. The development of modern communications technology has eliminated the entire advantage of retaining a local Seattle FBAR Attorney. Even if your attorney resides in Seattle, almost all of your communication with him is going to be through email, telephone and regular mail – i.e. the same as if your attorney resides in Minneapolis. The person-to-person meetings are now easily replaced by a video Skype conference.

Obviously, personal subjective ability (i.e. availability and readiness to communicate with his clients) of a Seattle FBAR Attorney (irrespective of where he actually resides) to communicate with his clients is part of the subjective criteria for the retainer already discussed above.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to Retain Your Seattle FBAR Attorney

Based on the analysis above, Sherayzen Law Office should be one of the preferred choices in your search for a Seattle FBAR Attorney. Sherayzen Law Office holds a leading position in the world on FBAR compliance due to its highly-experienced international tax team, headed by its founder Attorney Eugene Sherayzen. We have helped our clients throughout the world with FBAR compliance and all related international tax issues, including voluntary disclosure of foreign accounts under the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, Delinquent FBAR Submission Procedures, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures and Reasonable Cause Disclosures (also known as “noisy disclosures”).

This is why, if you are looking for a Seattle FBAR Attorney, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office, PLLC today to schedule Your Confidential Consultation!