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U.S. Treasury Publishes Official FBAR Exchange Rates for 2014



Anyone filing an “FBAR” (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts – FinCEN Form 114) or IRS Form 8938 (Statement of Foreign Financial Assets) for calendar year 2014 will be pleased to know that the official exchange rates for 2014 have been published. As U.S. law states that no other exchange rate is permitted, it is really helpful to have these exchange rates available so early in January.

Exchange rates for other currencies can be found by clicking here.

The rates for the major foreign currencies are listed below:

 

1-20-2015 9-41-12 AM

 

 

 

What is an FBAR?

Separate from United States income tax returns, many U.S. persons are required to file with the US Treasury a return commonly known as an “FBAR” (or Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts; known as FinCEN Form 114), listing all non-US bank and financial accounts. These forms are required if on any day of any calendar year an individual has ownership of or signature authority over non-US bank and financial accounts with an aggregate (total) balance greater than the equivalent of $10,000.

These are separate to and in addition to United States income tax returns and are due to be filed by June 30th each year in relation to the previous calendar year. This date cannot be extended and putting your 2014 Form 1040 on extension does not change the June 30th filing deadline. The 2014 FBAR is due no later than June 30, 2015 and can only be filed electronically through the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network {FinCEN) which is a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department that collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

How The Government Examines Data From Your FBAR.

The electronic filing system on the FinCEN website is called the BSA E-Filing System (BSA standing for the Bank Secrecy Act) and it allows you to save changes to your form, track progress of the processing of your form and receive electronic notices. Either you or your tax preparer can file this form. By having your foreign account information submitted electronically to the U.S. Treasury, the government will be able to more quickly and effectively match this information to foreign sourced income reported on your current and past Federal income tax returns.

Discrepancies would be identified by the government’s computer and those taxpayers would be referred for examination or investigation by the IRS.

Big Penalties For Non-compliance – Jail-time Is Possible.

The penalties for FBAR noncompliance are stiffer than the civil tax penalties ordinarily imposed for delinquent taxes.

Failing to file an FBAR can carry a civil penalty of $10,000 for each non-willful violation. But if your violation is found to be willful, the penalty is the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the amount in the account for each violation—and each year you didn’t file is a separate violation. By the way the IRS can go back as far as 6 years to charge your with violations.

Go to Jail? Criminal penalties for FBAR violations are even more frightening, including a fine of $250,000 and 5 years of imprisonment. If the FBAR violation occurs while violating another law (such as tax law, which it often will) the penalties are increased to $500,000 in fines and/or 10 years of imprisonment. Many violent felonies are punished less harshly.

In assessing whether penalties are to be applied, especially willfulness, the IRS looks at such issues as inheritance, how other accounts are treated, etc. Although filing prospectively is easy, determining how to address past transgressions isn’t. With the option for taxpayers to include why FinCEN Form 114 for any prior year is being filed late, taxpayers may be tempted to use this option in an attempt to come into compliance for failing to report foreign income on prior year’s income tax returns and/or failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. Beware that such disclosure does not protect you from the heavy fines and possible criminal charges.

What Should You Do?

If you have not reported your foreign income and you have not disclosed your foreign bank accounts, you should seriously consider participating in the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) which allows taxpayers to come forward to avoid criminal prosecution and not have to bear the full amount of penalties normally imposed by IRS. Once the IRS contacts you, you cannot get into this program and would be subject to the maximum penalties (civil and criminal) under the tax law. Taxpayers who hire an experienced tax attorney in Offshore Account Voluntary Disclosures should result in avoiding any pitfalls and gaining the maximum benefits conferred by this program.

Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Connect with me on TaxConnections.

Original Post By:  Jeffrey Kahn

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