FBAR Maximum Account Value Determination | FBAR Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Determination of the FBAR maximum account value is a problem with which every FBAR filer has to deal. In this article, I would like to provide the main guidelines for the determination of the FBAR maximum account value.

FBAR Maximum Account Value Determination: Background Information

The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts or FBAR requires each filer to disclose his financial interest in or signatory authority or any other authority over foreign bank and financial accounts to the IRS. As part of this disclosure, the filer must calculate and report the maximum account value for each of his foreign accounts on his FBAR.

FBAR Maximum Account Value Determination: Definition of Highest Value

FinCEN defines the maximum value of an account for FBAR purposes as “a reasonable approximation of the greatest value of currency or nonmonetary assets in the account during the calendar year.” In other words, the IRS does not expect you to always get the highest possible value. A reasonable approximation of this value will do if the exact highest value is not possible to determine.

FBAR Maximum Account Value Determination: Usual Problems

There are two main problems that each FBAR filer faces whenever he tries to identify the maximum account value for FBAR purposes. The first and most obvious problem is the determination of the highest account value. How does one determine the highest value for a bank account? What about a securities account where stocks fluctuate all the time? What about a precious metals account which has investments in different precious metals?

Second, FBAR requires that all amounts be stated in US dollars. Hence, an issue arises with respect to proper currency conversion – i.e. what is the proper currency exchange rate? Should the spot rates be used? Or December 31 exchange rates?

Let’s discuss each of these problems in more depth.

FBAR Maximum Account Value Determination: Methodology

Determination of maximum account value depends to a certain degree on the type of an account for which the filer is trying to determine this value. There is no question that, with respect to checking and savings bank accounts, the IRS wants you to use the full-year statements to determine the day on which the highest value was achieved for each of these accounts. This is a simple and effective method.

Determining the maximum value of a securities account is much harder, because securities fluctuate on a daily basis. For this reason, the IRS allows you to rely on periodic account statements to make this determination, especially end-of-year statements. This method is allowed only as long as the statements fairly approximate the maximum value during the calendar year.

Even this method, however, is often insufficient when one deals with mixed-currency accounts, mixed-investment accounts, mixed-metal accounts, et cetera. These situations should be handled on a case-by-case basis by your international tax attorney.

Let’s illustrate the complexity of the issues involved here by a relatively simple example. Generally, an end-of-year statement for an investment account is a good approximation of the maximum value of the account. If, however, there was a withdrawal of funds from the account following a major sale of investments, then the end-of-year statement cannot be relied upon. Instead, one should try a different method to approximate the highest value. One possibility is to use a reliable and known financial website for valuing the remaining assets on the date of the sale plus the proceeds from the sale of investments. The method, however, may fail if the highest value of investments was at the beginning of the year, not the date of sale.

FBAR Maximum Account Value Determination: Currency Conversion

Unlike the identification of the highest account value with its various complications, the currency conversation part of the FBAR maximum account value determination is fairly straightforward. All filers must use the end-of-year FBAR rates published by the Treasury Department. These rates are officially called “Treasury Financial Management Service rates”, but they are commonly called “FBAR rates” by US international tax lawyers. The FBAR rates are division rates, not the multiplication ones. This is standard in US international tax law.

Hence, for the currency conversion purposes, you need to identify the currency in which your account is nominated, find the appropriate FBAR conversion rate for the relevant year and divide your highest balance by the relevant FBAR rate. For your convenience, Sherayzen Law Office also publishes FBAR rates on its website.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your FBAR Preparation

If you are required to file FBARs, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers to comply with their FBAR obligations, and we can help you!

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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.