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Trusted Answers From Licensed Business Professionals

What If My Client Doesn’t Disclose A Foreign Financial Account?

If your client holds foreign financial accounts with a value exceeding $10,000, it most likely needs to be reported on the report of Foreign Banks and Financial Accounts (FBAR) FinCEN 114. Unfortunately, sometimes clients do not disclose this information to their accountant even if the client questionnaire requests it. What should you do if your client does not report this account until after the filing deadline passes?

form-1116-foreign-pensionWhat if a client does not disclose their foreign accounts?
First, it is important to note that the FinCEN 114 is due on June 30th of the following calendar year and is filed via the BSA E-Filing System. If this reporting will be filed late, the client needs to include a reason for filing late on the cover page of the electronic report or enter a customized explanation using the “Other” option.

Is there a penalty for filing FinCEN 114 late?
The IRS may not impose a penalty for the failure to file the delinquent FinCEN 114 as long as the income from the account has been reported properly and taxes are paid on the US tax return. In addition, the client must not have been previously contacted regarding an income tax examination or a request for delinquent returns for the years for which the delinquent forms are submitted.

Are there any other forms that need to be filed?
The client may also need to file Form 8938, if the account was $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at any time during the tax year (higher threshold amounts apply to married individuals filing jointly and individuals living abroad). This is filed with the tax return. If this is filed late, the taxpayer may need to amend the tax return and include this form. There are certain exceptions and other considerations to filing though. For instance, is the taxpayer the sole owner of the account or is this a shared interest? Is the taxpayer married? It may be possible that this form doesn’t need to be filed if an exception is met and the taxpayer is below the reporting threshold. Specifically, if the $110,000 is a joint account with a spouse and they file separately, the taxpayer’s interest is actually $55,000 and below the form 8938 threshold.

What if the client doesn’t want to file the FinCEN Form 114?
We would recommend that you explain to the client the risks and penalties for not reporting should an audit reveal the client’s failure to report the account and income. Explain that you’re simply following the rules as per IRS guidance. If you receive further push-back, this may be one of the scenarios when you have to seriously consider giving the client an ultimatum; either they report it correctly or they find another accountant. However, try to first explain the risks and penalties for not doing so. You can even share with them IRS publications and the IRC references.

More Questions? Ask your foreign tax questions or find a tax accountant online.

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->Tax Reporting For US Citizens With Foreign Pension Income
->Offshore Bank Account Holders May Face Higher Penalties Soon
->Filing Taxes With Your Non-Resident Alien Spouse

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