Frequently asked questions on FBAR bank accounts

Q. AM I required to report bank accounts in a foreign country?

A. Yes, if you have more than $10,000 at any time outside the U.S.

Q. Am I exempted if my accounts are in Euros, Chinese Yuan, Philippines pesos, or Mexican pesos?

A. No, you are not exempt from reporting foreign accounts just because they are not in U.S. dollars. Convert international denominations to U.S. dollars and report FBAR if the amount is more than $10,000.

Q. What is FBAR?

A. FBAR is a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts on FinCEN Form 114.

Q. Who must file an FBAR?

A. Any United States person who has a financial interest in or signature authority over any financial account in a foreign country, if the aggregate value exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

Q. Who is a United States person?

A. “United States person” includes a citizen or resident of the United States, a domestic partnership, a domestic corporation, or a domestic estate or trust (the term “domestic” means formed in the U.S.)

Q. What is a foreign country?

A. “Foreign country” includes all geographical areas outside the United States, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Q. What constitutes signature or other authority over an account?

A. A person has signature authority over an account if such person can control the disposition of money.

Q. When is FBAR due?

A. The new annual due date for filing Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) for foreign financial accounts is April 15. This date change was mandated to coincide with the federal income tax filing season.

Q. Can I extend the filing due date?

A. Yes. You may get a six-month automatic extension to October 15 each year.

Q. Should I file FBAR with my income tax return?

A. No, the FBAR is a separate report and should not be filed with your Federal tax return.

Q. What happens if an account holder fails to file a required FBAR report?

A. Failure to file an FBAR may result in civil penalties, criminal penalties or both.

Q. Can cumulative FBAR penalties exceed the amount in a taxpayer’s foreign account?

A. Yes, penalties can be assessed every year. Repeated penalties can even exceed your bank balance.

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Victor Santos Sy graduated Cum Laude from UE with a BBA and from Indiana State University with an MBA. Vic worked with SyCip, Gorres, Velayo (SGV – Andersen Consulting) and Ernst & Young before establishing Sy Accountancy Corporation in Pasadena, California.

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He has 50 years of experience in defending taxpayers audited by the IRS, FTB, EDD, BOE and other governmental agencies.  He is publishing a book on his expertise – “HOW TO AVOID OR SURVIVE IRS AUDITS.” Our readers may inquire about the book or email tax questions at [email protected]

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Victor Sy, CPA, MBA (retired)

Victor Santos Sy, MBA. CPA (Retired) Victor Santos Sy graduated Cum Laude from UE with a BBA and from Indiana State University with an MBA. Vic worked with SyCip, Gorres, Velayo (SGV – Andersen Consulting) and Ernst & Young before establishing Sy Accountancy Corporation. * * * He retired after 50 years of defending taxpayers audited by the IRS, EDD, BOE and other governmental agencies. He published a book on “How to Avoid or Survive IRS Audits” that’s available at Amazon. Readers may email tax questions to [email protected]

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