FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR)

Do You Have One or More Foreign Financial Accounts?

If you are the account holder or have signature authority over any foreign bank account account (this includes checking or savings accounts, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, unit trusts, and other types of foreign financial assets), it may be possible that you are required to report the account yearly to the United States Department of Treasury. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, each United States person must file a Foreign Bank Accounts Report (FBAR), or FinCEN Form 114 if the combined total of your foreign financial accounts is at least $10K or reaches this threshold at any point during the calendar year.

FinCEN Form 114 is a requirement for all US Citizens with foreign bank accounts, and failure to file this form may result in stiff penalties, including punitive financial fees and criminal prosecution.

Who Must File FinCEN Form 114?

Any US Person who owns one or more foreign financial accounts with a combined total of $10K or more.  The term US Person means:

  • A citizen or resident of the United States,
  • A domestic partnership,
  • A domestic corporation, and
  • A domestic estate or trust.

Many US Expats are asking how the United States government will know if certain foreign financial assets aren’t being reported.  The answer is:  In response to FATCA guidelines that have been developing over the course of the previous four years, the United States has entered into information sharing agreements with 39 countries and is in the final stages of finalizing information sharing agreements with 62 more.

Through these information sharing agreements, participating Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs) are required to report certain details on accounts held by US Citizens.  Participating FFIs have already registered with the United States and are now scheduled to share foreign bank account information including:  Name(s) on each bank account; Social Security Numbers or TINs (Tax Identification Numbers) of the account holders; account numbers; balances (both high balance and end of year balance); and any gross dividends, interest payments, or any other financial credits applied to each foreign financial account.

Reporting and Filing Information

FinCEN Form 114 can only be filed online; it has nothing to do with your US expat tax return. If you have been granted a filing extension by the IRS for your US expat tax return, this filing extension does not extend to FinCEN Form 114. You may not request an extension for filing FinCEN Form 114. FinCEN Form 114must be filed online with the United States Department of Treasury on or before June 30 of the following year.

Reporting Requirement Exceptions

If you meet any of the following guidelines, you are not required to file FinCEN Form 114:

  • You own or have signature authority over a bank account in a US military financial institution operated by the United States for the purpose of servicing US government operations abroad,
  • You are an employee or officer of a bank which is under the authority of the Comptroller of the Currency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or Office of Thrift Supervision and you have no personal interest in the bank account.
  • You are an employee or officer of a domestic corporation that has equity securities listed on a national securities exchange and you have no personal interest in these securities.
  • You are an employee or officer of a domestic corporation that has assets which exceed $10M and more than 500 shareholders and you have no personal interest in these assets.

New FATCA Form 8938

In addition to FinCEN Form 114, you are required to file FATCA Form 8938 if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • You live in the United States, you are filing a tax return as a single individual, and you have foreign assets with an aggregate value of $50K on the final day of the year or the value of your foreign assets reached $75K at any point during the year,

  • You live in the United States, you are filing a joint return with your spouse, and you have foreign assets with an aggregate value of $100K at the end of the year or the value of your foreign assets reached $150K at any point during the year,

  • You are a US Expat living abroad, you are filing a tax return as a single individual, and you have foreign assets with an aggregate value of $200K on the final day of the year or the value of your foreign assets reached $300K at any point during the year, and

  • You are a US Expat living abroad, you are filing a joint return with your spouse, and you have foreign assets with an aggregate value of $400K at the end of the year or the value of your foreign assets reached $600K at any point during the year.

For the purpose of filing FATCA Form 8938, the term ‘foreign assets’ includes more than your financial accounts.  You must report all gains and losses incurred from your assets abroad, including private equity and foreign hedge funds, foreign stock, partnership interests, and any other income-producing asset.

Unlike FinCEN Form 114, FATCA Form 8938 is filed with your US tax return to the IRS.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a financial account?

A "financial account" includes any bank, securities, securities derivatives or other financial instruments accounts. The term includes any savings, checking, deposit or any other account maintained with 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 (such as mutual funds).

Individual bonds, notes, or stock certificates held by the filer are not a financial account nor is a loan (such as account in which you owe money to the bank).

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2. Is an FBAR required for accounts maintained with financial institutions located in a foreign country if the accounts hold noncash assets, such as gold?

Yes. An account with a financial institution that is located in a foreign country is a financial account for FBAR purposes whether the account holds cash or non-monetary assets.

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3. What does "maximum value of account" mean?

The maximum value of account is the largest amount (not the average amount) of currency and nonmonetary assets that appear on any quarterly or more frequent account statements issued for the applicable year. If periodic account statements are not issued, the maximum account value is the largest amount of currency or nonmonetary assets in the account at any time during the year. Convert foreign currency by using the official exchange rate at the end of the year.

Though the FBAR instructions direct filers to use the official exchange rate, the Internal Revenue Service has no official exchange rate and generally accepts any posted exchange rate that is used consistently. For exchange rates, check the U.S. Treasury Web site or other commercial sites.

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4. A person owns foreign financial accounts A, B and C with account balances of $3,000, $1,000 and $8,000, respectively. Does the person have to file an FBAR and if so, which accounts must be listed on the FBAR?

Even though no single account is over $10,000, because the aggregate value of accounts A, B and C is over $10,000, the person has to file an FBAR and must report foreign financial accounts A, B and C on the FBAR.

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5. Is an FBAR required if the account generates neither interest nor dividend income?

Yes, an FBAR must be filed whether or not the foreign account generates any income.

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6. Does the term "other authority over a financial account" mean that a person, who has the power to direct how an account is invested but who cannot make disbursements to the accounts, has to file an FBAR for the account?

No, an FBAR is not required because the person has no power of disposition of money or other property in the account.

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7. A New York corporation owns a foreign company that has foreign accounts. The corporation will file an FBAR for the foreign company's accounts. Do the primary owners of the U.S. company also have to file?

Yes, if any owner directly or indirectly owns more than 50 percent of the total value of the shares of stock, that owner will have to file an FBAR.

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8. A company has more than 25 foreign accounts. What should they enter in Part ll of the FBAR?

If the filer holds a financial interest in more than 25 accounts, check the yes box in item 14 and indicate the number of accounts in the space provided. Do not complete any further items in Part II or Part III of the report. Sign the form in item 44/45 and enter the date signed in item 46. Any person who lists more than 25 accounts in item 14 must provide all the information called for in Part II and Part III when requested by the Department of the Treasury.

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9. What are the exceptions to the FBAR filing requirement?

Accounts in U.S. military banking facilities, operated by a United States financial institution to serve U.S. government installations abroad, are not considered as accounts in a foreign country. For this reason, these accounts do not have to be reported on an FBAR.

An officer or employee of a bank that is subject to the supervision of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of Thrift Supervision, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation need not report that he has signature or other authority over a foreign bank, securities or other financial account maintained by the bank, if the officer or employee has NO personal financial interest in the account.

An officer or employee of a domestic corporation whose equity securities are listed on a national securities exchange or which has assets exceeding $10 million and 500 or more shareholders of record, need not file a report concerning signature authority over a foreign financial account of the corporation, if he has NO personal financial interest in the account and he has been advised, in writing, by the chief financial officer of the corporation that the corporation has filed a current report, which includes that account.

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