General Expat Tax Issues: FBAR

Updated: Jan 17, 2019



An FBAR is the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. United States persons are required to file an FBAR if:


  1. The United States person had a financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, or other type of foreign financial account, located outside of the United States; and

  2. The aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year to be reported.


United States person means United States citizens; United States residents; entities, including but not limited to, corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States; and trusts or estates formed under the laws of the United States.


A person has signature authority over an account if such person can control the disposition of money or other property in it by delivery of a document containing his or her signature (or his or her signature and that of one or more other persons) to the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained.


A “financial account” includes any bank, securities, securities derivatives or other financial instruments accounts. The term includes any savings, demand, checking, deposit or any other account maintained with a financial institution or other person engaged in the business of a financial institution. Financial account also generally includes any accounts in which the assets are held in a commingled fund, and the account owner holds an equity interest in the fund (including mutual funds). Individual bonds, notes, or stock certificates held by the filer are not a financial account nor is an unsecured loan to a foreign trade or business that is not a financial institution.


Other authority exists in a person who can exercise power that is comparable to signature authority over an account by direct communication to the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained, either orally or by some other means.


The FBAR is not filed with the filer's federal income tax return. The granting, by the IRS, of an extension to file federal income tax returns does not extend the due date for filing an FBAR. You may not request an extension for filing the FBAR. The FBAR must be received by the IRS on or before June 30 of the year following the calendar year being reported.


Failure to file an FBAR when required to do so may potentially result in civil penalties, criminal penalties or both. Records of accounts required to be reported on an FBAR must be retained for a period of five years.


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