The Reports of Financial Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) will be due April 15, starting for returns due in 2017, for taxable year 2016. The new due date is more than two months earlier than the previous June 30th due date, but will align with the due date for individual income tax returns. The new law, however, allows certain taxpayers the potential for an extension to the filing deadline, up to October 15. Under the previous rule, all FBARs were due on June 30th, without the possibility of extension. Americans living abroad receive the same automatic extension as received for income tax returns to June 15 for filing the FBAR.
Annual FBAR filings are required of an American taxpayers that own or have signature authority over foreign financial accounts, if the aggregate amount of all foreign accounts is greater than $10,000. Penalties for willful or fraudulent violations of this law can come as a substantial fine or even up to five years of prison time. Although these provisions, enforced by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), generally have not changed, one new addition has been added. Specifically, the Secretary now has the power to waive the penalty for failure to file or request an extensions for first time offenders.
The FBAR changes are a result of a small provision within the highway appropriations bill, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, signed into law on July 31, 2015.
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