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Requirement to File Form TD F 90-22.1 for U.S. Persons

Author: Brad Howland
First Posted: Sept. 3, 2009

U.S. persons are required to file Form TD F 90-22.1 every year they own, or have an interest in, foreign financial accounts where the combined balances exceed $10,000 at any time during the year.

We receive many questions about Form TD F 90-22.1, commonly known as the FBAR. The due date for filing the form is normally June 30 of the following year, and there can be substantial penalties for failing to file it on time. However, this year the IRS has granted an extension of time to file the 2008 form in certain circumstances.

The FBAR form and instructions can be downloaded from the IRS. The instructions on the FBAR form are a little hard to understand for some people, but there is an excellent plain-language discussion at Part 1 goes into the types of pension funds that must be reported, which would include RRSP accounts but not accounts that are owned and controlled by an employer:

Part 1: Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts
How to Prepare and File TD F 90-22.1

Part 2: Laws Governing TD F 90-22.1
Requirements, Penalties, and Laws

The IRS has given some FBAR filers an extension to Sept. 23 to file the 2008 form. The IRS will not impose a penalty for failing to file by June 30, if the taxpayer reported all taxable income and "only recently learned of their FBAR filing obligation and have insufficient time to gather the necessary information to complete the FBAR."

The IRS provides a list of FAQs regarding the reporting of foreign bank and financial accounts.

In Question 9 of a page on Voluntary Disclosures, the IRS indicates it is possible to file late FBAR forms for 2003-2008 without penalty:

Q9. I have properly reported all my taxable income but I only recently learned that I should have been filing FBARs in prior years to report my personal foreign bank account or to report the fact that I have signature authority over bank accounts owned by my employer. May I come forward under the voluntary disclosure practice to correct this?

A9. The purpose for the voluntary disclosure practice is to provide a way for taxpayers who did not report taxable income in the past to voluntarily come forward and resolve their tax matters. Thus, If you reported and paid tax on all taxable income but did not file FBARs, do not use the voluntary disclosure process.

For taxpayers who reported and paid tax on all their taxable income for prior years but did not file FBARs, you should file the delinquent FBAR reports according to the instructions (send to Department of Treasury, Post Office Box 32621, Detroit, MI 48232-0621) and attach a statement explaining why the reports are filed late. Send copies of the delinquent FBARs, together with copies of tax returns for all relevant years, by September 23, 2009, to the Philadelphia Offshore Identification Unit at:

Internal Revenue Service
11501 Roosevelt Blvd.
South Bldg., Room 2002
Philadelphia, PA 19154
Attn: Charlie Judge, Offshore Unit, DP S-611

The IRS will not impose a penalty for the failure to file the FBARs

Taxpayers with further questions about the FBAR might try contacting the IRS at the international contact numbers:

Philadelphia Service Center
Tel: 215-516-2000 (not toll-free)
Fax: 215-516-2555
Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F

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