Houston Tax Attorney
There is really no such thing as FBAR lawyers. If you Google search for FBAR lawyers, you may find some attorneys who call themselves “FBAR lawyers”.
If you are a US citizen or tax resident, you may have a foreign bank account reporting obligation. Form finCEN 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (also commonly known as the Foreign Bank Account Report, or “FBAR”) is required to be filed annually by “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.” You can read more about FBARs on our blog.
You might be searching for FBAR lawyers if you’re not sure how to fill out the form or where to fill it out. If you’re reasonably technology proficient, you should be able to fill this form out yourself without needing so-called FBAR lawyers to help you. If you have foreign accounts and meet the threshold, you must submit your FBAR by April 15th each year. You can automatically extend the deadline to October 15 if you file an extension to file your personal tax return. The FBAR must be filed electronically (paper submissions are no longer accepted) by visiting the BSA E-Filing System website.
While there are no such thing as FBAR lawyers, you may need a tax lawyer who specializes in offshore voluntary compliance if you had FBAR filing requirements in the past and are not compliant. There are strict penalties that can apply to those that willfully fail to file FBARs. Such penalties can be up to $100,000 or 50% of the balance in the account. Even those who are not willful can be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 USD per year. The IRS can and does assert such penalties, regardless of what a friend or family member may have advised to you. Many clients have stated to me that they did not file their FBARs because a friend or family member told them it was not a big deal and that the IRS will not know. Of course, this is absolutely not true. Through intergovernmental agreements or IGAs between taxing authorities, countries are sharing information about financial accounts belonging to U.S. persons with the IRS. Here are some recent FBAR civil penalty cases that you can read about.
So if you are not compliant with previous FBAR filings, you do need a tax lawyer to guide you through the offshore compliance process. There are may offshore compliance options by the IRS that minimize your potential penalties. In some cases, you may not pay any penalties.