BREAKING: In a long-awaited landmark FBAR ruling, the US Supreme Court today ruled in favor of Alexandru Bittner, and 'per form/year' accounting of penalties; instead of having to pay $2.72m, he'll only owe $50,000… https://t.co/zLV923r7jC @CrossBriton @ExpatriationLaw @aaro pic.twitter.com/qyugl3ypeq
— Helen Burggraf (@helenburggraf) February 28, 2023
On November 2, 2022 the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in the Bittner FBAR case. I have previously written about this case here and here. An audio of the oral argument at the Supreme Court (along with commentary) is here. On February 28, 2023 the Court issued it’s ruling.
An audio of the oral argument: "Supreme Court FBAR Hearing November 2, 2022: ALEXANDRU BITTNER, Petitioner, v. No. 21-1195 UNITED STATES, Respondent" https://t.co/cwJ2vsWSJC
— John Richardson – lawyer for "U.S. persons" abroad (@ExpatriationLaw) March 1, 2023
The issue was whether:
In assessing non-willful civil FBAR penalties the government is restricted to imposing one penalty for failing to file an accurate FBAR form or may the government impose a separate penalty for each mistake related to each account. In other words, is the penalty based on the failure to file a correct form or is a separate penalty allowed for each mistake in relation to the form?
Interestingly and notably the Gorsuch majority decision specifically notes that the period in which the FBAR penalties were assessed were for years that Mr. Bittner was living in Romania. There is no acknowledgment of this in the Barrett dissent!! In addition, Ms. Boyd (of 9th Circuit fame) was also assessed penalties for the years she was living in the UK! To be clear: this decision is very relevant for Americans abroad!!
The court’s decision