While the deadline for filing federal income taxes has been pushed back to May 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who file an annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) still face their same April 15, 2021 due date.
FBAR filers who miss the April 15 deadline, however, will get an automatic extension that gives them until October 15 to file. There’s no need to request an extension.
Who has to file an FBAR?
American citizens are required to file an FBAR by the Bank Secrecy Act if they have a financial interest or signature authority in any financial account in a foreign country and the total of their foreign accounts exceeds $10,000 any time during the calendar year.
The IRS says the value threshold means all U.S. residents with foreign financial interests should check if the filing requirement applies to them. This includes U.S. citizens, resident aliens and domestic legal entities, even those with relatively small holdings.
The IRS defines “foreign country” as any area outside the borders of the U.S., Indian lands as defined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and these U.S. possessions:
- Northern Mariana Islands,
- District of Columbia,
- American Samoa,
- Puerto Rico,
- United States Virgin Islands, and
- Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.
Potential U.S. FBAR filers include individual citizens or residents of the United States, or a domestic legal entity, such as a partnership, corporation, limited liability company, estate or a trust.
The FBAR must be filled electronically, using the BSA E-Filing System website. If a taxpayer is unable to e-file an FBAR they should call the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at 800-949-2732, or 703-905-3975 if they’re calling from outside the U.S.
Failure to file an FBAR when otherwise required could result in civil and criminal penalties that lead to a fine or even prison time. The IRS says, however, that it will not penalize taxpayers who reported a foreign account properly but filed the FBAR late—provided the agency finds there was reasonable cause for the late submission.
For more information, the IRS suggests the following webpages:
Taxpayers who live outside the U.S. should consult Helpful Tips for Effectively Receiving a Tax Refund for Taxpayers Living Abroad on IRS.gov to help them avoid delays with tax refunds.