Why Foreign Bank Account Violations are Ultra Expensive
If you have a foreign bank account that has not been reported to the IRS, then you could be facing serious civil penalties and even criminal penalties. These penalties fall under the Foreign Bank Account Report, (FBAR) violations.
First, it is important to determine if you are required to report your foreign bank account. It comes down to being able to say yes to the following four questions:
- You are now a US citizen or permanent resident or have been in the last six years.
- You have had a foreign bank account for a year or longer since 2008.
- Your balances in all of your foreign accounts exceed $10K
- You have not reported the account through the FBAR paperwork to the IRS.
The civil penalties for not filing the FBAR will be the greater of 50% of your bank account or $100K. The IRS has also indicated that it is willing to charge these penalties cumulatively for up to four or even six years.
This means that you can be charged these penalties for each year you have had the foreign bank account and not reported it to the IRS regardless of the fact that the penalties may well out pace the actual dollar amount in your account.
In addition to expensive civil penalties, you can also face criminal penalties. If the IRS determines that you willfully knew that you should have filed a FBAR and didn’t, they can charge you under FBAR violation laws as well as normal criminal tax prosecution laws.
A criminal prosecution typically occurs when a person has a large amount of taxable income in their foreign bank account that has not been claimed on their tax return.
A tax accountant or tax attorney can walk you through your options if you find yourself in this situation, as the IRS does offer voluntary disclosure programs, but even with taking advantage of one of these programs, you will still suffer the sting of IRS penalties.
If you would like assistance in this area, call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet Chahal.
Chahal & Associates is a tax accounting firm in Northern California with offices in Emeryville, San Rafael and Pinole. We are multilingual and help many foreign business owners establish a business within the United States and comply with the tax rules and avoid foreign bank account penalties. As part of our International Tax Consulting, we also provide High Net Worth Immigration Assistance and Tax Services for Foreign Nationals and Non-Resident Aliens.