Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)


Do you have financial assets overseas?  If it’s a certain kind of account, and worth over a certain amount, you may have to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, also known as a FBAR.

The FBAR isn’t sent to the IRS – it’s done electronically with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a division of the Department of the Treasury.

FBAR and other requirements for international taxpayers are complex topics. After you review this page, you may want to discuss your situation with a tax professional or legal advisor.

You’ll need to file a FBAR if:

You’re a “U.S. person”

A “U.S. person”  means U.S. citizens  and U.S. residents, as well as entities including (but not limited to) corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies created or organized in the U.S. or under U.S. laws; and trusts or estates formed under U.S. laws.

A U.S. resident is an alien residing in the United States, and you would need to determine and apply the residency tests in 26 U.S.C. section 7701(b). For more details about citizen vs residents, see the IRS FBAR Reference Guide.

You have certain kinds and amounts of financial assets

A U.S. person who meets both of these qualifications must file an FBAR:

  • A financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account located outside of the United States; and
  • The total value of all foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year being reported.

For a listing of what is considered a “financial interest” see the IRS FBAR Reference Guide.

You may not need to file if you meet certain exceptions

There are exceptions to the FBAR reporting requirements (for example, for foreign accounts maintained on a U.S. military facility).

They are listed in the line-by-line FBAR instructions.

Some accounts listed on your FBAR also need to be reported to the IRS

There are some foreign financial assets that you may need to report to the IRS on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, which you file with your federal tax return.

Those foreign financial assets could include foreign accounts that you reported on an FBAR. You must file Form 8938 even if you file an FBAR.

The IRS has a chart comparing what kinds of assets need to be reported on Form 8938 filed with your federal tax return and which need an FBAR.

FBAR is a calendar-year report. Currently you must file it on or before June 30 of the year after the calendar year you are reporting (for example, an FBAR for 2015 is due by June 30, 2016).

For tax years that begin January 1, 2016, you must file on or before April 15 of the following calendar year (for example, a 2016 FBAR will be due April 15, 2017).

Extensions: You can’t ask for more time to file an FBAR. When the IRS grants a filing extension for a federal tax return, it does not extend the time to file an FBAR with FinCEN. Note: When the new due date goes into effect (April 15th) for tax years beginning January 2016, you will be able to request a six month extension for filing FBAR. 

Exception: FinCEN Notice 2014-1 extended the due date for filing FBARs by certain individuals with signature authority over, but no financial interest in, foreign financial accounts of their employer or a closely-related entity, to June 30, 2016. This notice continues the extension granted in Notice 2013-1 (extended to June 30, 2015) to similarly situated individuals. 

If you're going to file your own FBAR

File the FBAR electronically through FinCEN’s Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) E-Filing System.

NOTE: Don’t file the FBAR with a federal tax return; you must file it separately as mentioned above.

If someone else is going to file the FBAR on your behalf

If you choose to have a third-party preparer file FBARs on your behalf, you need to fill in and keep a copy of FinCEN Report 114a, Record of Authorization to Electronically File FBARs.You don’t have to submit it with your FBAR, but it must be available to FinCEN or the IRS if requested.  

If you haven’t filed a required FBAR

As long as you are not under a civil examination or a criminal investigation by the IRS and the IRS hasn't already contacted you about a delinquent FBAR; you should file any delinquent FBARs according to the normal procedure in the online system.

You need to include a statement explaining why the filing is late.

  • Select a reason for filing late on the cover page of the electronic form or enter a customized explanation using the "Other" option.

If you can’t file electronically, contact FinCEN’s Regulatory Helpline at 800-949-2732 (inside the U.S.) or 703-905-3975 (outside the U.S.) to ask about other ways to file.

Penalties

The IRS won’t impose a penalty for failure to file delinquent FBARs if you reported your foreign income properly and paid any associated taxes on your U.S. tax return and it hasn’t already contacted you about an audit or request for delinquent returns for the years covered by the delinquent FBARs.

Other accounts

If you haven’t reported income from your foreign accounts (in addition to not filing required FBARs) and you haven’t filed required information returns, there are programs available from the IRS that may help you:

You can get help completing the FBAR Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern (U.S.) time, at 866-270-0733 (inside the U.S, toll-free) or 313-234-6146 (outside the U.S., not toll-free). You can also send questions to FBARquestions@irs.gov.

Help with electronic filing questions is available at BSAEFilingHelp@fincen.gov or through the BSA E-Filing Help Desk at 866-346-9478. The E-Filing Help Desk is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time (except for holidays.)

For questions about Bank Secrecy Act BSA regulations or acceptable alternatives to e-filing, contact FinCEN’s Regulatory Helpline at 800-949-2732 (inside the U.S.) or 703-905-3975 (outside the U.S.).

Have a different tax issue?  Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

Is your tax problem more complex?  If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and are not receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting TAS.

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Last modified July 12, 2016