FBAR Tax Requirements
Anyone with a financial interest or authority in a foreign account may be required to file a particular report to the IRS, A Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR. This pertains to a bank account, trust, mutual fund or any type of financial account. This is due to something called the Bank Secrecy Act, which Congress passed to fight against money laundering and fraud.
The IRS gets Serious
This Act has been in effect for decades, but the IRS has increased its attention and enforcement in recent years, as offshore accounts are a primary means of tax evasion. This increased emphasis brings increased penalties to violators. Even accidental or inadvertent violations can be punishable, so this is an area in which taxpayers must work to follow the letter of the law. Keeping up with tax law is difficult enough for individuals and business owners. Add in a foreign account or two and you really should rely on a qualified accountant.
Not All Accountants can Help with FBAR
Not all accounting firms are qualified to deal with FBARs. CPA Accounting and Tax Services is qualified to assist you with reporting your foreign accounts. We can determine, first and foremost, if you need to file an FBAR or not. The general indicators are if you are an American Citizen or Green Card holder, you have an interest or are the owner of a financial account located outside of the U.S., and the account totaled more than $10,000 U.S. dollars at any time during the previous year. If all this applies to you, then yes, you need to file an FBAR.
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FBAR and Financial Interest
What does a “financial interest” mean? It may be a direct or indirect interest. You have a financial interest in any account that you own. If the account is owned by a corporation that you own- fully or partially- you have an interest in the account and therefore, must file an FBAR. *Note: If you must file an FBAR because you have an account that matches these terms, you must also report any additional foreign accounts on this form, even if those accounts have balances below $10,000, even if the amount is $0.
We have defined “financial interest.” Let’s examine the types of accounts that need to be reported. Any bank account held in a foreign country needs to be reported on an FBAR. Securities, commodity futures, insurance and annuity policies with a cash value, and even certain pension funds fall into the category of accounts for which you will need to file an FBAR.