Do you have assets in foreign accounts? If yes, the United States requires you to include filings with the IRS disclosing your foreign interests.
One form most people with overseas accounts need to file is the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR). While the purpose may be simple and straightforward, it is important not to discount or overlook the FBAR when filing your taxes.
What is the FBAR?
The FBAR is paperwork filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Its purpose is to report foreign financial interests, and as with other tax documents it’s subject to specific filing requirements and deadlines.
The form is straightforward, but it is imperative you fill it out correctly to avoid civil, or possibly criminal, penalties for errors or omissions.
Who needs to file the FBAR?
There are two primary criteria for determining if you are required to file an FBAR:
1.You are a United States citizen with a financial interest in, or signature authority over, one or more foreign financial accounts.
2.The value of your foreign accounts exceeded $10,000 at any point during the year.
There are some exceptions to these rules. For example, some foreign accounts held jointly with a spouse may be exempt. However, it is best to consult an attorney with questions, as errors or omissions can open you to criminal liability and/or substantial civil penalties.
If you have any foreign interests, it’s valuable to explore whether you need to file an FBAR and seek guidance when necessary.