4.26.16  Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

Manual Transmittal

November 06, 2015

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised text of IRM 4.26.16, Bank Secrecy Act, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Material Changes

(1) Terms and acronyms were revised to reflect current usage. This includes replacing "TD F 90-22.1" with "FinCEN Report 114" and replacing "Detroit Computing Center" with "Detroit Federal Building."

(2) The text was revised to incorporate the regulatory changes made by a revision to 31 CFR 1010.350, published February 24, 2011.

(3) Citations were renumbered from 31 CFR Part 103 to 31 CFR Chapter X, effective March 1, 2011.

(4) Style and punctuation was updated to conform to the IRM Style Guide and the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

(5) The text incorporates recent Notices issued by FinCEN and IRS to clarify provisions of the regulations, which are also provided as Exhibits 4.26.16-3 through -10.

(6) References to the penalty provisions applicable prior to October 23, 2004, were deleted.

(7) The text of Interim Guidance Memorandum SBSE-04-0607-024, as reissued on June 18, 2008, was incorporated as new Exhibit 4.26.16-2.

(8) Interim Guidance Memorandum SBSE-04-0515-0025, as issued on May 13, 2015, was incorporated into the text.

Effect on Other Documents

This supersedes IRM 4.26.16 dated July 1, 2008. It incorporates Interim Guidance Memorandum SBSE-04-0607-024, as reissued on June 18, 2008, and Interim Guidance Memorandum SBSE-04-0515-0025, as issued on May 13, 2015. This section should be read together with Section 4.26.17, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Procedures, for a complete understanding of FBAR law and procedures.

Audience

Intended audience is IRS employees in all operating divisions who are responsible for ensuring compliance with the reporting and record keeping requirements of the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). It can be referenced by all field compliance personnel, especially in Examination and Collection.

Effective Date

(11-06-2015)

Barbara J. Fiebich
Director, Specialty Examination Policy
Small Business/Self-Employed

4.26.16.1  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Overview

  1. The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Report 114, is required when a U.S. person has a financial interest in, or signature authority over, one or more foreign financial accounts with an aggregate value greater than $10,000 at any time during the reporting period (calendar year). If a report is required, certain records must also be kept.

  2. In April 2003, the IRS was delegated civil enforcement authority for the FBAR.

  3. IRM 4.26.16 covers FBAR law. FBAR examination procedures are covered in IRM 4.26.17.

4.26.16.2  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Authorities

  1. The requirement to report foreign bank and financial accounts was added to the United States Code (USC) in 1970 as part of the "Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970" , which came to be known as the "Bank Secrecy Act" or "BSA." These anti-money laundering provisions, as amended, were codified at 31 USC 5311 - 5332, excluding section 5315.

  2. The Secretary of the Treasury delegated the authority to administer civil compliance with Title II of the BSA to the Director, FinCEN. IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) has authority to enforce the criminal provisions of the BSA.

  3. While FinCEN retains its rule-making authority for FBAR, it redelegated civil FBAR enforcement authority to the IRS. See IRM 4.26.16.2.2(4), below.

4.26.16.2.1  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Statutory Authority

  1. The statutory authority for the FBAR is 31 USC 5314.

  2. Section 5314 directs the Secretary of the Treasury to require a resident or citizen of the United States to keep records and/or file reports when making transactions or maintaining a relationship with a foreign financial agency.

  3. 31 USC 5321(a)(5) and (a)(6) establish civil penalties for violations of the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements. See IRM 4.26.16.6 below for a discussion of penalties.

4.26.16.2.2  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Regulatory Authority

  1. 31 CFR 1010.350 contains the FBAR definitions and requirements. Section 1010.350 states "each United States person having a financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, a bank, securities, or other financial account in a foreign country shall report such relationship to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for each year in which such relationship exists and shall provide such information as shall be specified in a reporting form prescribed under 31 USC 5314 to be filed by such persons."

  2. 31 CFR 1010.306(c) specifies a filing due date of June 30th for the report for the prior year. The report is required to be electronically filed with FinCEN on FinCEN Report 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

  3. 31 CFR 1010.420 requires maintenance and retention of FBAR records for a period of five years.

  4. 31 CFR 1010.810(g) references a Memorandum of Agreement between FinCEN and the IRS, which redelegates, to the IRS, FinCEN's authority to enforce the provisions of 31 USC 5314 and 31 CFR 1010.350 and 1010.420. This includes the authority to:

    1. Assess and collect civil FBAR penalties.

    2. Investigate possible civil violations of these provisions.

    3. Employ the summons power of subpart I of Chapter X.

    4. Issue administrative rulings under subpart G of Chapter X.

    5. Take any other action reasonably necessary for the enforcement of these and related provisions, including pursuit of injunctions.

4.26.16.3  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing Criteria

  1. An FBAR is required if all of the following apply:

    1. The filer is a U.S. person.

    2. The U.S. person has a financial interest in a financial account or signature or other authority over a financial account.

    3. The financial account is in a foreign country.

    4. The aggregate amount(s) in the account(s) valued in dollars exceed $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

  2. For a discussion of the requirements of money transmitters, see Exhibit 4.26.16-2 This exhibit also includes several Frequently Asked Questions.

4.26.16.3.1  (11-06-2015)
United States Person

  1. A "United States person" is defined by 31 CFR 1010.350(b) to include:

    1. A citizen of the United States.

    2. A resident of the United States.

    3. An entity formed under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia, any territory or possession of the United States, or an Indian tribe.

  2. The federal tax treatment of a United States person does not determine whether the person has an FBAR filing requirement.

    Example:

    Single-member Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are disregarded for federal tax purposes, but would have to file the FBAR if otherwise required to do so.

    Example:

    Some trusts may not file tax returns but may have an FBAR filing requirement.

  3. The definition of "United States" for this purpose is found in 31 CFR 1010.100(hhh). For FBAR and other Title 31 purposes, "United States" includes:

    1. The States of the United States.

    2. The District of Columbia.

    3. The Indian lands (as defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).

    4. The territories and insular possessions of the United States.

  4. U.S. territories and insular possessions currently include:

    • Puerto Rico

    • Guam

    • American Samoa

    • U.S. Virgin Islands

    • Northern Mariana Islands

4.26.16.3.1.1  (11-06-2015)
U.S. Citizen

  1. A citizen of the U.S. has a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization papers.

  2. U.S. citizenship is not defined by residency. A citizen of the U.S. may reside outside the U.S.

    Example:

    Children born of U.S. citizens living abroad are U.S. citizens despite the fact that they may never have been to the U.S.

4.26.16.3.1.2  (11-06-2015)
U.S. Resident

  1. Prior to February 24, 2011, when revised regulations were issued, the FBAR regulations did not define the term "U.S. resident."

  2. For FBARs required to be filed by June 30, 2011, or later, 31 CFR 1010.350(b) defines "United States resident" using the definition of resident alien in IRC 7701(b), but using the Title 31 definition of "United States." The major tests of residency found in section 7701(b) are:

    1. The green-card test. Individuals who at any time during the calendar year have been lawfully granted the privilege of residing permanently in the U.S. under the immigration laws automatically meet the definition of resident alien under the green-card test.

    2. The substantial-presence test. Individuals are defined as resident aliens under the substantial-presence test if they are physically present in the U.S. for at least 183 days during the current year, or they are physically present in the U.S. for at least 31 days during the current year and meet the specifications contained in IRC 7701(b)(3).

    3. The individual files a first-year election on his income tax return to be treated as a resident alien under IRC 7701(b)(4).

    4. The individual is considered a resident under the special rules in section 7701(b)(2) for first-year or last-year residency.

  3. Individuals residing in the U.S. who do not meet one of these residency tests are not considered U.S. residents for FBAR purposes. This includes individuals in the U.S. under a work visa who do not meet the substantial-presence test.

  4. Using these rules of residency can result in a non-resident being considered a U.S. resident for FBAR purposes. This would occur when a green-card holder actually resides outside the U.S.

  5. FinCEN clarified in the preamble to the regulations that an election under IRC 6013(g) or (h) is not considered when determining residency status for FBAR purposes.

  6. U.S. tax treaty provisions do not affect residency status for FBAR purposes. A treaty provision which allows a resident of the U.S. to file tax returns as a non-resident does not affect residency status for FBAR purposes if one of the tests of residency in IRC 7701(b) is met.

  7. Diplomats residing at foreign embassies in the U.S. are not generally considered U.S. residents since foreign embassies are generally considered part of the sovereign nation they represent.

4.26.16.3.1.3  (11-06-2015)
U.S. Entity

  1. A U.S. entity is a legal entity formed under the laws of the U.S., any state, the District of Columbia, any territory or possession of the U.S., or an Indian tribe.

  2. 31 CFR 1010.350(b) specifically names, but does not limit these types of entities to:

    • Corporations

    • Partnerships

    • Trusts

    • Limited Liability Companies

  3. The preamble to the regulations clarifies that pension plans and welfare benefit plans are included as U.S. entities.

  4. The definition of entities allows for new types of legal entities to be included in the future.

4.26.16.3.2  (11-06-2015)
Financial Account

  1. A reportable financial account includes a:

    1. Bank account, such as a savings deposit, demand deposit, checking, time deposit (CD), or any other account maintained with a financial institution or other person engaged in the business of banking.

    2. Securities account, securities derivatives account, or other financial instruments account held with a person engaged in the business of buying, selling, holding or trading stock or other securities.

    3. Other financial account, as defined in (2) below. IRM 4.26.16.3.2 (2)

  2. "Other Financial Account" is defined by the regulations to include:

    1. An account with a person in the business of accepting deposits as a financial agency.

    2. An insurance or annuity policy that has a cash value.

      Note:

      The preamble to the regulations clarifies that there need be no current payment of an income stream to trigger reporting. The cash value of the policy is considered the account value.

    3. An account with a person that acts as a broker or dealer for futures or options transactions in any commodity on or subject to the rules of a commodity exchange or association.

    4. A mutual fund or similar pooled fund defined as "a fund which issues shares available to the general public that have a regular net asset value determination and regular redemptions."

  3. The following are not considered financial accounts:

    1. Stocks, bonds, or similar financial instruments held directly by the person.

    2. Real estate or an account holding solely real estate (e.g., Mexican "fideicomiso" ).

    3. A safety deposit box.

      Note:

      A reportable account may exist where the financial institution providing the safety deposit box has access to the contents and can dispose of the contents upon instruction from, or prearrangement with, the person.

    4. Precious metals, precious stones, or jewels held directly by the person.

      Note:

      31 USC 5314 defines "foreign financial agency" as "a person acting for a person as a financial institution, bailee, depository trustee, or agent, or acting in a similar way related to money, credit, securities, gold, or a transaction in money, credit, securities, or gold." Therefore, a reportable account relationship may exist where a foreign agency holds precious metals on deposit or provides insurance or other services as an agent of the person owning the precious metals.

4.26.16.3.2.1  (11-06-2015)
Financial Account Exceptions

  1. The following are not considered reportable financial accounts for FBAR purposes:

    1. An account of a department or agency of the U.S., an Indian tribe, any state or any political subdivision of a state, any territory or insular possession of the U.S., or a wholly-owned entity, agency or instrumentality of any of the foregoing.

    2. An account of an international financial institution of which the U.S. government is a member. (e.g., the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.)

    3. An account in an institution known as a "United States military banking facility," that is, a facility designated to serve U.S. military installations abroad.

    4. Correspondent or "nostro" accounts that are maintained by banks and used solely for bank-to-bank settlements.

    5. Custodial or "omnibus" accounts held for the person by a U.S. institution acting as a global custodian, as long as the person cannot directly access the foreign custodial account.

4.26.16.3.2.2  (11-06-2015)
Account Valuation

  1. The FBAR is required for each calendar year during which the aggregate amount(s) in the foreign account(s) exceeded $10,000, valued in U.S. dollars, at any time during that calendar year. To determine the account value to report on the FBAR follow these steps:

    1. Determine the maximum value in locally denominated currency. The maximum value of an account is the largest amount of currency and non-monetary assets that appear on any quarterly or more frequent account statement issued for the applicable year.

      Example:

      If the statement closing balance is $9,000 but at any time during the year a balance of $15,000 appears on a statement, the maximum value reportable on an FBAR is $15,000.

      Note:

      If periodic account statements are not issued, the maximum account asset value is the largest amount of currency and non-monetary assets in the account at any time during the year.

    2. Convert the maximum value into U.S. dollars by using the official exchange rate in effect at the end of the year at issue for converting the foreign currency into U.S. dollars. The official Treasury Reporting Rates of Exchange for recent years are posted on the FBAR home page of the IRS web site at www.irs.gov. Search for keyword "FBAR" to find the FBAR home page. Current and recent quarterly rates are also posted on the Bureau of the Fiscal Service website at www.fiscal.treas.gov.

  2. If the filer has more than one account to report on the FBAR, each account is valued separately in accordance with the previous paragraphs.

  3. If a person has one or more but fewer than 25 reportable accounts and is unable to determine whether the maximum value of these accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, the FBAR instructions state that the person is to complete the applicable parts of the FBAR for each of these accounts and enter "value unknown" in Item 15.

4.26.16.3.3  (11-06-2015)
Financial Interest

  1. Direct Financial Interest:

    1. A U.S. person has a financial interest in each account for which such person is the owner of record or has legal title, whether the account is maintained for his own benefit or for the benefit of others including non-U.S. persons.

    2. If an account is maintained in the name of two persons jointly, or if several persons each own a partial interest in an account, each of those U.S. persons has a financial interest in that account and, generally, each person must file the FBAR. However, see special rules for spousal filing in IRM 4.26.16.4.4, below.

      Note:

      Because the FBAR is a report of foreign financial accounts, the entire account value for jointly-owned accounts is reported on each FBAR. Accounts are not prorated for a person's percentage of ownership interest.

    .

  2. Indirect financial interest: A U.S. person has an "other financial interest" in each bank, securities, or other financial account in a foreign country for which the owner of record or holder of legal title is:

    1. A person acting as an agent, nominee, attorney, or in some other capacity on behalf of the U.S. person.

    2. A corporation, whether foreign or domestic, in which the U.S. person owns directly or indirectly more than 50 percent of the total value of shares of stock or more than 50 percent of the voting power for all shares of stock.

    3. A partnership, whether foreign or domestic, in which the United States person owns an interest in more than 50 percent of the profits (distributive share of income, taking into account any special allocation agreement) or more than 50 percent of the capital of the partnership.

    4. Any other entity in which the U.S. person owns directly or indirectly more than 50 percent of the voting power, total value of the equity interest or assets, or interest in profits.

    5. A trust, if the U.S. person is the trust grantor and has an ownership interest in the trust for U.S. federal tax purposes under 26 USC 671–679 and the regulations thereunder.

    6. A trust, whether foreign or domestic, in which the U.S. person either has a present beneficial interest, either directly or indirectly, in more than 50 percent of the assets of the trust or from which such person receives more than 50 percent of the trust’s current income.

  3. The family attribution rules under Title 26 do not apply to FBAR reporting.

  4. Anti-avoidance rule: A U.S. person that causes an entity including, but not limited to, a corporation, partnership, or trust, to be created for the purpose of evading the FBAR reporting and/or recordkeeping requirements shall have a financial interest in any bank, securities, or other financial account in a foreign country for which the entity is the owner of record or holder of legal title. 31 CFR 1010.350(e)(3).

4.26.16.3.4  (11-06-2015)
Signature or Other Authority Over an Account

  1. An individual has signature or other authority over an account if that individual (alone or in conjunction with another) can control the disposition of money, funds or other assets held in a financial account by direct communication (whether in writing or otherwise) to the person with whom the financial account is maintained.

  2. Individuals not considered as having signature authority:

    1. Individuals with only the authority to buy or sell investments within the account, but no authority to disburse assets from the account.

    2. Individuals with supervisory authority over the individuals who actually communicate with the person with whom the account is maintained. FinCEN clarified, in the preamble to the regulations at 31 CFR 1010.350, that approving a disbursement that a subordinate actually orders is not considered signature authority.

  3. Only individuals can have signature authority. Signature authority attributed to entities must be exercised by individuals.

4.26.16.3.4.1  (11-06-2015)
Signature Authority Exceptions

  1. An officer or employee of the following institutions need not report signature or other authority over a foreign financial account owned or maintained by the institution if the officer or employee has no financial interest in the account:

    1. A bank that is examined by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of Thrift Supervision, or the National Credit Union Administration.

    2. A financial institution that is registered with and examined by the Securities and Exchange Commission or Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    3. An Authorized Service Provider for a foreign financial account owned or maintained by an investment company that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

      Note:

      Authorized Service Provider is an entity that is registered with and examined by the Securities and Exchange Commission and that provides services to an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

    4. An entity with a class of equity securities listed (or American depository receipts listed) on any U.S. national securities exchange.

      Note:

      Previously, instructions to the form allowed a "large corporation" exception for listed corporations. That exception was expanded to include all listed entities.

    5. An entity that has a class of equity securities registered (or American depository receipts registered) under section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act.

  2. An officer or employee of a U.S. subsidiary of an entity in (d) above need not report signature authority over accounts of the subsidiary if the entity files a consolidated FBAR listing the accounts of the subsidiary.

4.26.16.3.4.2  (11-06-2015)
Extended Due Dates for Certain Individuals Who Only Had Signature Authority

  1. IRS Notice 2009-62, issued in August 2009, Exhibit 4.26.16-3, extended the due date for the FBAR filing requirement for calendar years 2008 and prior years until June 30, 2010 for:

    1. U.S. persons with signature authority, but no financial interest, in an account.

    2. U.S. persons with a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a foreign financial account in which the assets are held in a commingled fund.

  2. IRS Notice 2010-23 extended again the due date for the FBAR filing until June 30, 2011, for the same filers named in Notice 2009-62. The Notice stated the extension was provided "in order for the Treasury Department to have the time necessary to develop comprehensive FBAR guidance." See Exhibit 4.26.16-4.

  3. FinCEN Notice 2011-1, issued in June 2011, Exhibit 4.26.16-5, extended to June 30, 2012, the filing due date for:

    1. An employee or officer of an entity under 31 CFR 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v) who has signature or other authority over, and no financial interest in, a foreign financial account of a controlled person of the entity.

    2. An employee or officer of a controlled person of an entity under 31 CFR 1010.350(f)(2)(i)-(v) who has signature or other authority over, and no financial interest in, a foreign financial account of the entity, the controlled person, or another controlled person of the entity.

  4. FinCEN Notice 2011-2, also issued in June 2011, extended to June 30, 2012, the filing due date for FBARs of filers reporting only their signature authority over accounts of employers who are registered investment advisors. See Exhibit 4.26.16-6.

  5. FinCEN Notice 2012-1, issued February 14, 2012, extended to June 30, 2013, the filing due date for FBARs of filers named in FinCEN Notices 2011-1 and 2011-2. See Exhibit 4.26.16-7.

  6. FinCEN Notice 2012-2, issued December 26, 2012, extended to June 30, 2014, the filing due date for FBARs of filers named in FinCEN Notice 2012-1. See Exhibit 4.26.16-8.

  7. FinCEN Notice 2013-1, issued December 17, 2013, extended to June 30, 2015, the filing due date for FBARs of filers named in FinCEN Notice 2012-2. See Exhibit 4.26.16-9.

  8. FinCEN Notice 2014-1, issued November 24, 2014, extended to June 30, 2016, the filing due date for FBARs of filers named in FinCEN Notice 2013-1. See Exhibit 4.26.16-10.

  9. Examiners should be aware of these extension provisions when determining the timeliness of FBAR filings. It is possible that some signature authority filers may have received several years of extensions due to these Notices.

4.26.16.3.5  (11-06-2015)
Foreign Country

  1. A foreign country includes all geographical areas located outside of the United States as defined in 31 CFR 1010.100(hhh). An account is "foreign" for FBAR purposes if it is located outside:

    1. the States of the United States.

    2. The District of Columbia.

    3. The Indian lands (as defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).

    4. The territories and insular possessions of the United States. See IRM 4.26.16.3.1(4) above.

  2. It is the location of an account, not the nationality of the financial institution, that determines whether an account is "foreign" for FBAR purposes. Accounts of foreign financial institutions located in the U.S. are not considered foreign accounts for FBAR; conversely, accounts of U.S. financial institutions located outside the U.S. are considered foreign accounts. Examples are:

    1. An account with a Hong Kong branch of a U.S.-based bank is a foreign financial account for FBAR purposes.

    2. An account with a New York City branch of a foreign-based bank is not a foreign financial account for FBAR purposes.

4.26.16.3.6  (11-06-2015)
Aggregate Value Over $10,000

  1. The final criterion triggering the FBAR filing requirement is the aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts in which the person has a financial interest, or over which the individual has signature or other authority, must be greater than $10,000, valued in U.S. dollars, at any time (on a particular day) during the calendar year.

  2. Steps to aggregate account values:

    1. Each account should be separately valued according to the steps outlined in IRM 4.26.16.3.2.2 to determine its highest valuation during the year in the foreign denominated currency.

      Exception:

      Money moved from one foreign account to another foreign account during the year must only be counted once.

    2. Each account should be converted from foreign denominated value to U.S. dollars using the FMS conversion rate for December 31st of the calendar year being reported. See IRM 4.26.16.3.2.2, Account Valuation, above.

  3. All reportable accounts should be aggregated, including:

    1. Solely-owned accounts.

    2. Jointly-owned accounts.

    3. Direct financial interest accounts (see IRM 4.26.16.3.3(1), above).

    4. Indirect financial interest accounts (see IRM 4.26.16.3.3(2), above).

    5. Signature authority accounts (see IRM 4.26.16.3.4, above).

4.26.16.4  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing Procedures

  1. The determination to file the FBAR is made annually. For example, a person may be required to file an FBAR for one calendar year but not for a subsequent year if the person’s aggregate foreign account balance does not exceed $10,000 at any time during the year.

  2. An FBAR must be filed for each calendar year that the person has a financial interest in, or signature authority over, foreign financial account(s) whose aggregate balance exceeds the $10,000 threshold at any time during the year.

4.26.16.4.1  (11-06-2015)
General FBAR Filing

  1. The FBAR must be filed on or before June 30 each year for the previous calendar year.

  2. All FBARs filed after June 30, 2013, must be filed electronically through the FinCEN BSA E-Filing website at www.bsaefiling.fincen.gov/main.html unless the filer requested, and was granted, an exception to e-filing by FinCEN.

  3. The FBAR should not be filed with the filer’s federal income tax return or information return.

4.26.16.4.2  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing Help

  1. Help with technical FBAR questions is available from IRS. Filers may:

    1. E-mail FBAR questions to FBARquestions@irs.gov. This is the preferred method and generally results in the quickest response.

    2. Call IRS Help Lines Monday through Friday, (8 AM to 4:30 PM ET), at 866-270-0733 (toll-free for calls within the U.S.) or 313-234-6146 (not toll-free for calls from outside the U.S.).

    3. Filers may find answers to many questions on the FBAR Home Page on IRS.gov. Enter "FBAR" in the search box.

  2. Help with electronic filing is available from FinCEN. Filers may:

    1. E-mail questions to BSAEFilingHelp@fincen.gov.

    2. Call the E-File Help Line at 866-346-9478. (No toll call option.)

    3. Call FinCEN's Regulatory Help Line at 800-949-2732 (toll-free for U.S. callers) or 703-905-3975 (for callers outside the U.S.) or email to frc@fincen.gov to request an exception to e-filing.

4.26.16.4.3  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing Exceptions

  1. Individual Retirement Account (IRA) owners and beneficiaries, and participants in and beneficiaries of U.S. tax-qualified retirement plans, are not required to report a foreign financial account held by or on behalf of the IRA or retirement plan.

    Caution:

    This exception is for U.S. plans only. Foreign plans (e.g., a Canadian Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and accounts managed by Mexico’s Administrators of Retirement Funds (AFORES) are normally reportable on an FBAR.

  2. A trust beneficiary with a financial interest is not required to report the trust's foreign financial accounts on an FBAR if the trust, trustee of the trust, or agent of the trust:

    1. Is a U.S. person, and

    2. Files an FBAR disclosing the trust's foreign financial accounts.

4.26.16.4.4  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing by Married Couples

  1. Accounts owned jointly by spouses may be filed on one FBAR. The spouse of an individual who files an FBAR is not required to file a separate FBAR if the following conditions are met:

    1. All the financial accounts that the non-filing spouse is required to report are jointly owned with the filing spouse.

    2. The filing spouse reports the jointly owned accounts on a timely, electronically filed FBAR.

    3. Both spouses complete and sign Part I of FinCEN Form 114a, Record of Authorization to Electronically File FBARs. The filing spouse completes Part II of Form 114a in its entirety.

      Note:

      The completed Form 114a is not filed but must be retained for five years. It must be provided to IRS or FinCEN upon request.

  2. If these conditions are not met (as when both spouses have individual accounts in addition to the jointly-owned accounts), both spouses are required to file separate FBARs, and each spouse must report the entire value of the jointly-owned accounts.

  3. For calendar years prior to 2014, use the instructions for spousal filing current for that filing year.

4.26.16.4.5  (11-06-2015)
Electronic FBAR Filing by a Third Party

  1. FBAR filers may authorize a paid preparer or other third party to electronically file the FBAR for them.

    1. The person reporting financial interest in, or signature authority over, foreign accounts must complete and sign Part I of FinCEN Form 114a.

    2. The preparer or other third-party filer must complete Part II of Form 114a.

    3. Form 114a is not filed. Both parties must retain the form for five years. It must be provided to IRS or FinCEN upon request.

  2. It remains the responsibility of the filer to ensure that filing takes place timely and the report is accurate. Form 114a contains a disclaimer that states: "...it is my/our legal responsibility, not that of the preparer listed in Part II, to timely file an FBAR if required by law to do so."

4.26.16.4.6  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing for Financial Interest in 25 or More Accounts

  1. 31 CFR 1010.350(g) provides that a United States person that has a financial interest in 25 or more foreign financial accounts only needs to provide the number of financial accounts and certain other basic information on the report, but will be required to provide detailed information concerning each account if the IRS or FinCEN requests it.

  2. Filers must comply with FBAR record-keeping requirements. See IRM 4.26.16.5.1, below.

4.26.16.4.7  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing for Signature Authority for 25 or More Accounts

  1. 31 CFR 1010.350(g) provides that A United States person that has signature or other authority over 25 or more foreign financial accounts only needs to provide the number of financial accounts and certain other basic information on the report, but will be required to provide detailed information concerning each account if the IRS or FinCEN requests it.

  2. Filers must comply with FBAR record-keeping requirements. See IRM 4.26.16.5.1, below.

4.26.16.4.8  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing for U.S. Persons Residing and Employed Outside the United States

  1. The FBAR filing instructions allow for modified reporting by a U.S. person who meets all three of the following criteria:

    1. Resides outside the U.S.

    2. Is an officer or employee of an employer located outside the U.S.

    3. Has signature authority over a foreign financial account(s) of that employer.

  2. In such cases, the U.S. Person should file the FBAR by:

    1. Completing filer information.

    2. Omitting account information.

    3. Completing employer information one time only.

4.26.16.4.9  (11-06-2015)
Filing A Consolidated FBAR

  1. 31 CFR 1010.350(g) allows an entity that is a U.S. person that owns directly or indirectly a greater than 50 percent interest in another entity that is required to file an FBAR to file a consolidated FBAR on behalf of itself and such other entity.

  2. Each controlled entity that has an FBAR filing obligation must be listed in Part V, even if that entity owns foreign accounts only indirectly.

4.26.16.4.10  (11-06-2015)
No FBAR Filing Extension

  1. There is no statutory authority to extend the time for filing an FBAR, and any request for such an extension will be denied.

  2. Extensions of time to file federal income tax returns or information returns do not extend the time for filing FBARs.

  3. IRC section 7508 "Time for performing certain acts postponed by reason of service in combat zone or contingency operation" does not grant U.S. persons that are U.S. Armed Forces members an extension to file the FBAR.

  4. This is not to be confused with extension of the statute of limitations on assessment or collection of penalties, which is possible. See IRM 4.26.17.5.5.

4.26.16.4.11  (11-06-2015)
Delinquent FBAR Filing Procedures

  1. Delinquent FBARs should be filed using the current electronic report, but using the instructions for the year being reported to determine if an FBAR filing requirement exists.

  2. On page one of FinCEN Report 114, explain the reason the FBAR was not filed timely. Select a common reason from the drop-down box or select Other, and a 750-character text box appears to allow an explanation.

  3. Keep a copy of the FBAR for recordkeeping purposes.

  4. No penalty will be asserted if the IRS determines that the failure to timely file an FBAR was not willful and was due to reasonable cause.

4.26.16.4.12  (11-06-2015)
Amending a Filed FBAR

  1. To amend a filed FBAR, filers should:

    1. Check the "Amended" box in Item 1 at the top of page two and fill in the "Prior Report BSA Identifier" for the original filing in the block provided.

    2. Complete the report in its entirety using the amended information.

4.26.16.4.13  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Filing Verification

  1. IRS personnel can verify FBAR filing on the FinCEN Query System.

  2. A FinCEN Query printout of a filed FBAR can establish that a retained copy of an FBAR provided by a filer or representative was actually filed and that the retained FBAR has the same information as the filed FBAR. FinCEN Query printouts can be obtained by both the filer’s name and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

  3. Filers receive immediate electronic verification for FBARs filed electronically with FinCEN.

  4. Filers can request verification of FBARs filed, 60 days after the date of filing. A request for verification of FBAR filing may be made:

    1. By calling 1-866-270-0733 and selecting option 1, up to five documents can be verified at no charge.

    2. In writing when requesting verification for more than five documents or for requests for paper copies of FBAR reports. The request should include the filer's name, Taxpayer Identification Number, and filing period(s). Tax practitioners requesting verifications for their clients must also make these requests in writing, and provide a copy of the Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, authorizing them to receive the FBAR information. For written verifications, there is a $5.00 fee for verifying five or fewer forms and a $1.00 fee for each additional form. If copies are needed, there is an additional fee of $0.15 per copy of the entire FBAR. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the United States Treasury. Written requests and payments for FBAR filing verifications and copies of filed FBARs should be mailed to:

    IRS Detroit Federal Building

    Compliance Review Team

    Attn.: Verification

    P.O. Box 32063

    Detroit, MI 48232-0063

4.26.16.5  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Recordkeeping

  1. If the FBAR is required, certain records must be retained by the filer. 31 CFR 1010.420. Each person having a financial interest in or signature or other authority over any such account must keep the following records:

    1. Name in which the account is maintained.

    2. Number or other designation identifying the account.

    3. Name and address of the foreign financial institution or other person with whom the account is maintained.

    4. Type of account.

    5. Maximum value of each account during the reporting period.

  2. The records must be kept for five years from the June 30 due date for filing the FBAR for that calendar year and be available at all times for inspection as provided by law.

  3. Note that persons are not required to keep copies of FBARs filed, only the records that underlie the filing.

  4. An officer or employee who files an FBAR to report signature authority over an employer's foreign financial account is not required to personally retain records regarding that account.

4.26.16.5.1  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Recordkeeping For Filers Having 25 Or More Accounts

  1. A filer who has financial interest in or signature authority over 25 or more foreign financial accounts must also comply with the record keeping requirements in IRM 4.26.16.5.

  2. Filers will be required to provide detailed information concerning each account if the IRS or FinCEN requests it.

4.26.16.6  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Penalties

  1. The IRS has been delegated authority to assess civil FBAR penalties.

  2. When there is an FBAR violation, the examiner will either issue the FBAR warning letter, Letter 3800, Warning Letter Respecting Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report Apparent Violations, or determine a penalty. However, when multiple years are under examination and a monetary penalty is imposed for some but not all of the years under examination, a Letter 3800 will not be issued for the year(s) for which a monetary penalty is not imposed. See IRM 4.26.17 for further information.

  3. Penalties should be determined to promote compliance with the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements. In exercising discretion, examiners must consider whether the issuance of a warning letter and the securing of delinquent FBARs, rather than the determination of a penalty, will achieve the desired result of improving compliance in the future.

    Example:

    An individual failed to report the existence of five small foreign accounts with a combined balance of $20,000 for all five accounts, but properly reported the income from each account and made no attempt to conceal the existence of the accounts. The examiner must consider all the facts and circumstances of this case to determine if a warning letter is appropriate in this case or if it would be appropriate to determine civil FBAR penalties.

  4. Civil FBAR penalties have varying upper limits, but no floor. The examiner has discretion in determining the amount of the penalty, if any.

  5. The IRS developed mitigation guidelines to assist examiners in determining the amount of civil FBAR penalties.

  6. There may be multiple civil FBAR penalties if there is more than one account owner, or if a person other than the account owner has signature or other authority over the foreign account. Each person can be liable for the full amount of the penalty.

  7. Managers must perform a meaningful review of the employee's penalty determination prior to assessment. See IRM 4.26.16.6.8.

4.26.16.6.1  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Penalty Authority

  1. IRS was delegated the authority to assess and collect civil FBAR penalties. 31 CFR 1010.810(g). The delegation includes the authority to investigate possible civil FBAR violations, provided in Treasury Directive No. 15-41 (December 1, 1992), and the authority to assess and collect the penalties for violations of the reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

  2. When performing these functions, IRS is not acting under Title 26 but, instead, is acting under the authority of Title 31. Provisions of the Internal Revenue Code generally do not apply to FBARs.

  3. Criminal Investigation was delegated the authority to investigate possible criminal violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. 31 CFR 1010.810(c)(2).

4.26.16.6.2  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Penalty Structure

  1. There are four civil penalties available for FBAR violations:

    1. Negligence. 31 USC 5321(a)(6)(A).

    2. Pattern of negligent activity. 31 USC 5321(a)(6)(B).

    3. Penalty for non-willful violation. 31 USC 5321(a)(5)(A) and (B).

      Note:

      Although the term "non-willful" is not used in the statute, we use it to distinguish this penalty from the penalty for willful violations.

    4. Penalty for willful violations. 31 USC 5321(a)(5)(C).

  2. A filing violation occurs at the end of the day on June 30th of the year following the calendar year to be reported (the due date for filing the FBAR).

  3. A recordkeeping violation occurs on the date when the records are requested by the IRS examiner if the records are not provided.

  4. A civil money penalty may be imposed for an FBAR violation even if a criminal penalty is imposed for the same violation. 31 USC 5321(d).

4.26.16.6.3  (11-06-2015)
BSA Negligence Penalties

  1. There are two negligence penalties that apply generally to all BSA provisions. 31 USC 5321(a)(6)

    1. A negligence penalty up to $500 may be assessed against a financial institution or non-financial trade or business for any negligent violation of the BSA, including FBAR violations.

    2. An additional penalty up to $50,000 may be assessed for a pattern of negligent violations.

  2. These two negligence penalties apply only to trades or businesses, and not to individuals.

  3. The FBAR penalties under section 5321(a)(5) and the FBAR warning letter, Letter 3800, adequately address most FBAR violations identified. The FBAR warning letter may be issued in the cases where the revenue agent determines none of the 5321(a)(5) FBAR penalties are warranted. If the revenue agent believes, however, that assertion of a section 5321(a)(6) negligence penalty is warranted in a particular case, the revenue agent should contact a Bank Secrecy Act FBAR program analyst for guidance.

4.26.16.6.3.1  (11-06-2015)
Negligence Defined

  1. Actual knowledge of the reporting requirement is not required to find negligence. For example, if a financial institution or nonfinancial trade or business exercising ordinary business care and prudence for its particular industry should have known about the FBAR filing and record keeping requirements, failure to file or maintain records is negligent. Therefore, standards of practice for a particular industry are relevant in determining whether a negligent violation of 31 USC 5314 occurred. If the failure to file the FBAR or to keep records is due to reasonable cause, and not due to the negligence of the person who had the obligation to file or keep records, the negligence penalty should not be asserted.

  2. Negligent failure to file does NOT exist when, despite the exercise of ordinary business care and prudence, the person was unable to file the FBAR or keep the required records.

  3. Use general negligence principles in determining whether or not to apply the negligence penalty. Treas. Reg. 1.6664-4, Reasonable Cause and Good Faith Exception to section 6662 penalties, may serve as useful guidance in determining the factors to consider.

4.26.16.6.3.2  (11-06-2015)
BSA Simple Negligence Penalty

  1. A negligence penalty up to $500 may be assessed against a business for any negligent violation of the BSA, including FBAR violations.

  2. The simple negligence penalty applies only to businesses, not individuals.

4.26.16.6.3.3  (07-01-2008)
BSA Simple Negligence Penalty Amount

  1. For each negligent violation of any requirement of the Bank Secrecy Act committed after October 27, 1986, a civil penalty may be assessed not to exceed $500.

  2. Generally, the full amount of this $500 penalty is assessed. Although 31 USC 5321(a)(6) permits discretion to assert a lower amount, there are no mitigation guidelines for this penalty.

4.26.16.6.3.4  (11-06-2015)
BSA Pattern of Negligence Penalty

  1. 31 USC 5321(a)(6)(B) provides for a civil money penalty of not more than $50,000 on a business that engages in a pattern of negligent BSA violations including violations of the FBAR rules. This penalty is in addition to any $500 negligence penalty.

  2. The pattern of negligence penalty has applied to financial institutions since 1986. For violations occurring after October 26, 2001, the penalty applies to all trades or businesses. This penalty does not apply to individuals.

4.26.16.6.3.5  (07-01-2008)
BSA Pattern of Negligence Penalty Amount

  1. If any trade or business engages in a pattern of negligent violations of any provision (including the FBAR requirements)] of the BSA, a civil penalty of not more than $50,000 may be imposed. This is in addition to the simple negligence $500 penalty. 31 USC 5321(a)(6)(B). The examiner is given discretion to determine the penalty amount up to the $50,000 ceiling.

  2. There are no mitigation guidelines for this penalty. The pattern of negligence penalty should be asserted only in egregious cases.

4.26.16.6.4  (11-06-2015)
Penalty for Nonwillful FBAR Violations

  1. For violations occurring after October 22, 2004, a penalty, not to exceed $10,000 per violation, may be imposed on any person who violates or causes any violation of the FBAR filing and recordkeeping requirements. 31 USC 5321(a)(5)(B).

  2. The penalty should not be imposed if:

    1. The violation was due to reasonable cause, and

    2. The person files any delinquent FBARs and properly reports the previously unreported account.

  3. Examiners have discretion in determining the penalty amount and should use the mitigation guidelines in making their determinations. See the discussion of the mitigation guidelines below. See Exhibit 4.26.16-1. Examiners should take the facts and circumstances of each case into account when determining if a warning letter or penalties that are less than the mitigation guidelines are appropriate. The purpose of FBAR penalties is to promote compliance with the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

4.26.16.6.4.1  (11-06-2015)
Penalty for Nonwillful Violations - Calculation

  1. After May 12, 2015, in most cases, examiners will recommend one penalty per open year, regardless of the number of unreported foreign accounts. The penalty for each year is limited to $10,000. Examiners should still use the mitigation guidelines and their discretion in each case to determine whether a lesser penalty amount is appropriate.

  2. For multiple years with nonwillful violations, examiners may determine that asserting nonwillful penalties for each year is not warranted. In those cases, examiners, with the group manager’s approval after consultation with an Operating Division FBAR Coordinator, may assert a single penalty, not to exceed $10,000, for one year only.

  3. For other cases, the facts and circumstances (considering the conduct of the person required to file and the aggregate balance of the unreported foreign financial accounts) may indicate that asserting a separate nonwillful penalty for each unreported foreign financial account, and for each year, is warranted. In those cases, examiners, with the group manager’s approval after consultation with an Operating Division FBAR Coordinator, may assert a separate penalty for each account and for each year. The examiner’s workpapers must support such a penalty determination and document the group manager’s approval.

  4. In no event will the total amount of the penalties for nonwillful violations exceed 50 percent of the highest aggregate balance of all unreported foreign financial accounts for the years under examination.

4.26.16.6.5  (11-06-2015)
Penalty for Willful FBAR Violations

  1. The penalty for willful FBAR violations may be imposed on any person who willfully violates or causes any violation of any provisions of 31 USC 5314 (the FBAR filing and recordkeeping requirements). 31 USC 5321(a)(5)(C).

  2. The penalty applies to individuals as well as financial institutions and nonfinancial trades or businesses for all years.

  3. For violations occurring after October 22, 2004, the statutory ceiling is the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the balance in the account at the time of the violation.

  4. There may be both a reporting and a recordkeeping violation regarding each account.

  5. The date of a violation for failure to timely file an FBAR is the end of the day on June 30th of the year following the calendar year for which the accounts are being reported. This date is the last possible day for filing the FBAR so that the close of the day with no filed FBAR represents the first time that a violation occurred. The balance in the account at the close of June 30th is the amount to use in calculating the filing violation.

  6. The date of a violation for failure to keep records is the date the examiner first requests records. The balance in the account at the close of the day that the records are first requested is the amount used in calculating the recordkeeping violation penalty. The date of the violation is tied to the date of the request, and not a later date, to assure the taxpayer is unable to manipulate the amount in the account after receiving a request for records. The balance in the account at the close of the day on which the records are first requested is the amount to use in calculating the penalty for failing to keep records as required by statute.

  7. IRS developed guidelines for the exercise of the examiner’s discretion in arriving at the amount of a penalty for a willful violation. See discussion of mitigation, below.

4.26.16.6.5.1  (11-06-2015)
Willful FBAR Violations - Defining Willfulness

  1. The test for willfulness is whether there was a voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty.

  2. A finding of willfulness under the BSA must be supported by evidence of willfulness.

  3. The burden of establishing willfulness is on the Service.

  4. Willfulness is shown by the person’s knowledge of the reporting requirements and the person’s conscious choice not to comply with the requirements. In the FBAR situation, the person only need know that a reporting requirement exists. If a person has that knowledge, the only intent needed to constitute a willful violation of the requirement is a conscious choice not to file the FBAR.

  5. Under the concept of "willful blindness," willfulness is attributed to a person who made a conscious effort to avoid learning about the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Example:

    Willful blindness may be present when a person admits knowledge of, and fails to answer questions concerning, his interest in or signature or other authority over financial accounts at foreign banks on Schedule B of his Federal income tax return. This section of the income tax return refers taxpayers to the instructions for Schedule B, which provides guidance on their responsibilities for reporting foreign bank accounts and discusses the duty to file the FBAR. These resources indicate that the person could have learned of the filing and recordkeeping requirements quite easily. It is reasonable to assume that a person who has foreign bank accounts should read the information specified by the government in tax forms. The failure to act on this information and learn of the further reporting requirement, as suggested on Schedule B, may provide evidence of willful blindness on the part of the person.

    Note:

    The failure to learn of the filing requirements coupled with other factors, such as the efforts taken to conceal the existence of the accounts and the amounts involved, may lead to a conclusion that the violation was due to willful blindness. The mere fact that a person checked the wrong box, or no box, on a Schedule B is not sufficient, in itself, to establish that the FBAR violation was attributable to willful blindness.

  6. The following examples illustrate situations in which willfulness may be present:

    1. A person files the FBAR, but omits one of three foreign bank accounts. The person had previously closed the omitted account at the time of filing the FBAR. The person explains that the omission was due to unintentional oversight. During the examination, the person provides all information requested with respect to the omitted account. The information provided does not disclose anything suspicious about the account, and the person reported all income associated with the account on his tax return. The penalty for a willful violation should not apply absent other evidence that may indicate willfulness.

    2. A person filed the FBAR in earlier years but failed to file the FBAR in subsequent years when required to do so. When asked, the person does not provide a reasonable explanation for failing to file the FBAR. In addition, the person may have failed to report income associated with foreign bank accounts for the years that FBARs were not filed. A determination that the violation was willful would likely be appropriate in this case.

    3. A person received a warning letter informing him of the FBAR filing requirement, but the person continues to fail to file the FBAR in subsequent years. When asked, the person does not provide a reasonable explanation for failing to file the FBAR. In addition, the person may have failed to report income associated with the foreign bank accounts. A determination that the violation was willful would likely be appropriate in this case.

4.26.16.6.5.2  (11-06-2015)
Willful FBAR Violations - Evidence

  1. Willfulness can rarely be proven by direct evidence, since it is a state of mind. It is usually established by drawing a reasonable inference from the available facts. The government may base a determination of willfulness on inference from conduct meant to conceal sources of income or other financial information. For FBAR purposes, this could include concealing signature authority, interests in various transactions, and interests in entities transferring cash to foreign banks.

  2. Documents that may be helpful in establishing willfulness include:

    1. Copies of statements for the foreign bank account.

    2. Notes of the examiner's interview with the foreign account holder/taxpayer about the foreign account.

    3. Correspondence with the account holder's tax return preparer that may address the FBAR filing requirement.

    4. Documents showing criminal activity related to the non-filing of the FBAR (or non-compliance with other BSA provisions).

    5. Promotional material (from a promoter or offshore bank).

    6. Statements for debit or credit cards from the offshore bank that, for example, reveal the account holder used funds from the offshore account to cover everyday living expenses in a manner that conceals the source of the funds.

    7. Copies of any FBARs filed previously by the account holder (or FinCEN Query printouts of FBARs).

    8. Copies of Information Document Requests with requested items that were not provided highlighted along with explanations as to why the requested information was not provided.

    9. Copies of debit or credit card agreements and fee schedules with the foreign bank, which may show a significantly higher cost than typically associated with cards from domestic banks.

    10. Copies of any investment management or broker’s agreement and fee schedules with the foreign bank, which may show significantly higher costs than costs associated with domestic investment management firms or brokers.

    11. The written explanation of why the FBAR was not filed, if such a statement is provided. Otherwise, note in the workpapers whether there was an opportunity to provide such a statement.

    12. Copies of any previous warning letters issued or certifications of prior FBAR penalty assessments.

    13. An explanation, in the workpapers, as to why the examiner believes the failure to file the FBAR was willful.

  3. Documents available in an FBAR case worked under a Related Statute Determination under Title 26 that may be helpful in establishing willfulness include:

    1. Copies of documents from the administrative case file (including the Revenue Agent Report) for the income tax examination that show income related to funds in a foreign bank account was not reported.

    2. A copy of the signed income tax return with Schedule B attached, showing whether or not the box pertaining to foreign accounts is checked or unchecked.

    3. Copies of tax returns (or RTVUEs or BRTVUs) for at least three years prior to the opening of the offshore account and for all years after the account was opened, to show if a significant drop in reportable income occurred after the account was opened. (Review of the three years' returns prior to the opening of the account would give the examiner a better idea of what the taxpayer might have typically reported as income prior to opening the foreign account).

    4. Copies of any prior Revenue Agent Reports that may show a history of noncompliance.

    5. Two sets of cash T accounts (a reconciliation of the taxpayer's sources and uses of funds) with one set showing any unreported income in foreign accounts that was identified during the examination and the second set excluding the unreported income in foreign accounts.

    6. Any documents that would support fraud (see IRM 4.10.6.2.2 for a list of items to consider in asserting the fraud penalty).

4.26.16.6.5.3  (11-06-2015)
Penalty for Willful FBAR Violations - Calculation

  1. For violations occurring after October 22, 2004, a penalty for a willful FBAR violation may be imposed up to the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the amount in the account at the time of the violation, 31 USC 5321(a)(5)(C). For cases involving willful violations over multiple years, examiners may recommend a penalty for each year for which the FBAR violation was willful.

  2. After May 12, 2015, in most cases, the total penalty amount for all years under examination will be limited to 50 percent of the highest aggregate balance of all unreported foreign financial accounts during the years under examination. In such cases, the penalty for each year will be determined by allocating the total penalty amount to all years for which the FBAR violations were willful based upon the ratio of the highest aggregate balance for each year to the total of the highest aggregate balances for all years combined, subject to the maximum penalty limitation in 31 USC 5321(a)(5)(C) for each year.

    Note:

    Examiners should still use the mitigation guidelines and their discretion in each case to determine whether a lesser penalty amount is appropriate

  3. Examiners may recommend a penalty that is higher or lower than 50 percent of the highest aggregate account balance of all unreported foreign financial accounts based on the facts and circumstances. In no event will the total penalty amount exceed 100 percent of the highest aggregate balance of all unreported foreign financial accounts during the years under examination. The examiner’s workpapers must support all willful penalty determinations and document the group manager’s approval.

  4. If an account is co-owned by more than one person, a penalty determination must be made separately for each co-owner. The penalty against each co-owner will be based on his her percentage of ownership of the highest balance in the account. If the examiner cannot determine each owner’s percentage of ownership, the highest balance will be divided equally among each of the co-owners.

4.26.16.6.6  (11-06-2015)
Mitigation

  1. The statutory penalty computation provides a ceiling on the FBAR penalty. The actual amount of the penalty is left to the discretion of the examiner.

  2. IRS has adopted mitigation guidelines to promote consistency by IRS employees in exercising this discretion for similarly situated persons. Exhibit 4.26.16-1.

4.26.16.6.6.1  (11-06-2015)
Mitigation Threshold Conditions

  1. For most FBAR cases, if IRS has determined that if a person meets four threshold conditions, then that person may be subject to less than the maximum FBAR penalty depending on the amounts in the accounts.

  2. For violations occurring after October 22, 2004, the four threshold conditions are:

    1. The person has no history of criminal tax or BSA convictions for the preceding 10 years, as well as no history of past FBAR penalty assessments.

    2. No money passing through any of the foreign accounts associated with the person was from an illegal source or used to further a criminal purpose.

    3. The person cooperated during the examination (i.e., IRS did not have to resort to a summons to obtain non-privileged information; the taxpayer responded to reasonable requests for documents, meetings, and interviews; and the taxpayer back-filed correct reports).

    4. IRS did not sustain a civil fraud penalty against the person for an underpayment for the year in question due to the failure to report income related to any amount in a foreign account.

4.26.16.6.7  (11-06-2015)
FBAR Penalties - Examiner Discretion

  1. The examiner may determine that the facts and circumstances of a particular case do not justify asserting a penalty.

  2. When a penalty is appropriate, IRS penalty mitigation guidelines aid the examiner in applying penalties in a uniform manner. The examiner may determine that a penalty under these guidelines is not appropriate or that a lesser penalty amount than the guidelines would otherwise provide is appropriate or that the penalty should be increased (up to the statutory maximum). The examiner must make such a determination with the written approval of the examiner’s manager and document the decision in the workpapers.

  3. Factors to consider when applying examiner discretion may include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Whether compliance objectives would be achieved by issuance of a warning letter.

    2. Whether the person who committed the violation had been previously issued a warning letter or assessed an FBAR penalty.

    3. The nature of the violation and the amounts involved.

    4. The cooperation of the taxpayer during the examination.

  4. Given the magnitude of the maximum penalties permitted for each violation, the assertion of multiple penalties and the assertion of separate penalties for multiple violations with respect to a single FBAR, should be carefully considered and calculated to ensure the amount of the penalty is commensurate to the harm caused by the FBAR violation.

4.26.16.6.8  (11-06-2015)
Managerial Involvement and Approval of FBAR Penalties

  1. Managers must perform a meaningful review of the examiner's penalty determination prior to assessment.

  2. The manager must verify that the penalties were fairly imposed and accurately computed; that the examiner did not improperly assert the penalties in the first instance; and that the conclusions regarding "reasonable cause" (or the lack thereof) were proper.

  3. ) For BSA cases, written managerial approval must be documented on the Violations Summary Form - Title 31, workpaper 400-1.1.

  4. For SB/SE examination cases, written managerial approval must be documented on the Penalty Approval Form, workpaper 300.

  5. For LB&I cases, managerial approval must be documented on the penalty leadsheets.

  6. For SB/SE campus cases, written managerial approval must be documented on Form 4700, Examination Workpapers.

Exhibit 4.26.16-1 
FBAR Penalty Mitigation Guidelines for Violations Occurring After October 22, 2004

The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) allows the Secretary of the Treasury some discretion in determining the amount of penalties for violations of the FBAR reporting and record keeping requirements. There is a penalty ceiling but no minimum amount. This discretion has been delegated to the FBAR examiner.

  • The examiner may determine that the facts and circumstances of a particular case do not justify a penalty.

  • If there was an FBAR violation but no penalty is appropriate, the examiner must issue the FBAR warning letter, Letter 3800.

When a penalty is appropriate, IRS established penalty mitigation guidelines to ensure the penalties determined by the examiner’s discretion are uniform. The examiner may determine that:

  • A penalty under these guidelines is not appropriate, or

  • A lesser amount than the guidelines otherwise provide is appropriate.

The examiner must make this determination with the written approval of that examiner’s manager. The examiner’s workpapers must document the circumstances that make mitigation of the penalty under these guidelines appropriate. When determining the proper penalty amount, the examiner should keep in mind that manager approval is required to assert more than one $10,000 non-willful penalty per year, and in no event can the aggregate non-willful penalties asserted exceed 50% of the highest aggregate balance of all accounts to which the violations relate during the years at issue.  Similarly, manager approval is required to assert willful penalties that, in the aggregate, exceed 50% of the highest aggregate balance of all accounts to which the violations relate during the years at issue, and in no event can the aggregate willful penalties exceed 100% of the highest aggregate balance of all accounts to which the violations relate during the years at issue.

To qualify for mitigation, the person must meet four criteria:

  1. The person has no history of criminal tax or BSA convictions for the preceding 10 years and has no history of prior FBAR penalty assessments.

  2. No money passing through any of the foreign accounts associated with the person was from an illegal source or used to further a criminal purpose.

  3. The person cooperated during the examination.

  4. IRS did not determine a fraud penalty against the person for an underpayment of income tax for the year in question due to the failure to report income related to any amount in a foreign account.

FBAR Penalty Mitigation Guidelines - Per Person Per Year
Non-Willful (NW) Penalties
To Qualify for Level I-NW - Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance for all accounts to which the violations relate did not exceed $50,000 at any time during the calendar year, Level I – NW applies to all violations. See IRM 4.26.16.3.6, Aggregate Value Over $10,000, above for instruction on determining the maximum aggregate balance.
The Level I-NW Penalty is $500 per violation, not to exceed a total of $5,000 per year.
To Qualify for Level II-NW - Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance of all accounts to which the violations relate exceeds $50,000, but does not exceed $250,000, Level II-NW applies to all violations.
The Level II-NW Penalty is $5,000 per violation.
To Qualify for Level III-NW - Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance of all accounts to which the violations apply exceeds $250,000, Level III-NW applies to all violations.
The Level III-NW Penalty is $10,000 per violation, the statutory maximum penalty for non-willful violations.
Penalties for Willful Violation
To Qualify for Level I-Willful - Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance for all accounts to which the violations relate did not exceed $50,000 during the calendar year, Level I-Willful mitigation applies to all violations. See IRM 4.26.16.3.6, Aggregate Value Over $10,000, above for instruction on determining the maximum aggregate balance.
The Level I Willful Penalty is The greater of $1,000 per year or 5% of the maximum aggregate balance of the accounts during the year to which the violations relate.
To Qualify for Level II-Willful – Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance for all accounts to which the violations relate exceeds $50,000 but does not exceed $250,000, Level II-Willful mitigation applies to all violations. Level II-Willful penalties are computed on a per account basis.
The Level II-Willful Penalty is For each account for which there was a violation, the greater of $5,000 or 10% of the maximum account balance during the calendar year at issue.
To Qualify for Level III-Willful - Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance for all accounts to which the violations relate exceeds $250,000 but does not exceed $1,000,000, Level III-Willful mitigation applies to all violations. Level III-Willful penalties are computed on a per account basis..
The Level III-Willful Penalty is For each account for which there was a violation, the greater of 10% of the maximum account balance during the calendar year at issue or 50% of the account balance on the day of the violation.
To Qualify for Level IV-Willful - Determine Aggregate Balance If the maximum aggregate balance for all accounts to which the violations relate exceeds $1,000,000, Level IV-Willful mitigation applies to all violations. Level IV-Willful penalties are computed on a per account basis..
The Level IV-Willful Penalty is For each account for which there was a violation, the greater of 50% of the balance in the account at the time of the violation or $100,000 (i.e., the statutory maximum penalty).

Exhibit 4.26.16-2 
Money Transmitter FBAR Filing Requirements

This material was originally issued as Interim Guidance Memorandum SBSE-04-0607-024, Interim Guidance on Money Transmitter Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Filing Requirements.

BSA Examiners should continue to be alert to FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements encountered during all BSA compliance examinations. Examiners often encounter FBAR issues specific to the money transmission industry. Some of the most common issues and questions have been summarized and are addressed below.

Money transmitters in the U.S. send money overseas generally through the use of foreign banks or non-bank agents located in foreign countries. The arrangement permits the money transmitter to readily send payments, in the currency of the foreign country, to the recipient. The U.S. money transmitter wires funds to the foreign bank or non-bank agent and provides instructions to make payments to the recipient located in the foreign country. The money transmitter typically does not have signature or other authority over the agent’s bank account. In this situation, the money transmitter is not required to file an FBAR for the agent’s bank account.

However, if the money transmitter has a direct financial interest in the foreign financial account, has signature authority, or other authority, over the foreign financial account and the aggregate value is in excess of $10,000 at any time during the year in question, the money transmitter is required to file an FBAR. Another person holding the foreign account on behalf of the money transmitter does not negate the FBAR filing requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):

  1. Is there an FBAR filing requirement when the money transmitter wires funds to a foreign bank account or has a business relationship with someone located in a foreign country?

    Answer: No. Merely wiring funds to a foreign bank account or having a business relationship with someone located in a foreign country does not create an FBAR filing requirement.

  2. Is there an FBAR filing requirement where the money transmitter owns a bank account located in a foreign country or has signature authority over someone else’s bank account located in a foreign country?

    Answer: Yes, if the account exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year and the money transmitter was a United States person for FBAR purposes.

  3. Is an FBAR required to be filed by a money transmitter engaged in Informal Value Transfer System (IVTS)/Hawala transactions?

    Answer: There would be no FBAR filing requirement if there is no foreign bank or other foreign financial accounts involved. The money transmitter’s relationship with a foreign affiliate, by itself, does not create an FBAR filing requirement. However, if the money transmitter owned a bank account located in a foreign country or had signature authority over someone else’s bank account located in a foreign country, was a United States person, and the account value exceeded $10,000 at any time, the money transmitter would be required to file an FBAR.

  4. What constitutes "other authority" for FBAR reporting purposes?

    Answer: "Other authority" is comparable to signature authority in that a person exercising "other authority" can through communication to the bank or other person with whom the account is maintained exercise power over the account. A distinction, however, must be drawn between having authority over a bank account of a non-bank foreign agent and having authority over a foreign agent who owns a foreign bank account. Having authority over a person who owns a foreign bank account is not the same as having authority over a foreign bank account.

  5. Does a money transmitter who has a business relationship with a person located in a foreign country have a financial interest in a foreign financial account if the person in the foreign country is providing services of a financial institution (such as money transmission services) and both parties maintain books and records of their business transactions (including books and records of offsetting transactions or trade accounts receivable or payable)?

    Answer: No. The money transmitter does not have a financial interest in a foreign financial account. A "financial account" for FBAR filing purposes includes bank accounts, investment accounts, savings accounts, demand checking, deposit accounts, time deposits, or any other account maintained with a financial institution or other person engaged in the business of a financial institution. "Accounts" as used to describe or identify the books and records of ordinary business transactions between businessmen are not "financial accounts" for FBAR reporting purposes.

  6. Do receivables accounts maintained by foreign non-bank agents which net out the US money transmitter settlement obligations to the foreign agent constitute a financial account for FBAR filing purposes?

    Answer: No. Such receivables in accounting records are not financial accounts for FBAR reporting purposes.

  7. Do the FBAR filing requirements apply when a money transmitter maintains a bank account with a foreign bank for the purpose of settling money transmission transactions with a foreign bank?

    Answer: Yes. If a money transmitter owns the account maintained with the foreign bank or has signature or other authority over it, the money transmitter may be required to file an FBAR.

Exhibit 4.26.16-3 
IRS Notice 2009-62

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-4 
IRS Notice 2010-23

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-5 
FinCEN Notice 2011-1

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-6 
FinCEN Notice 2011-2

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-7 
FinCEN Notice 2012-1

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-8 
FinCEN Notice 2012-2

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-9 
FinCEN Notice 2013-1

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 4.26.16-10 
FinCEN Notice 2014-1

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.
This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

More Internal Revenue Manual