FinCEN. It sounds like something out of a Hollywood plot line about a secret government agency running clandestine missions that are kept out of the purview of the general public.
Willfulness is usually required to support criminal charges. Assigning signature authority to someone else to conceal account ownership could show willful conduct. Filing a document, such as a Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts/FinCEN Report 114 (FBAR) with false information is another.
Reports on foreign bank accounts are due today, June 30. But if this is your first time filing you might have questions and concern that you should address first.
Have you recently moved from China or India to the United States for a new career opportunity? Are you an American living abroad? You need to report all foreign bank accounts, if at any point in the 2015 the aggregate value of your accounts exceeded $10,000.
One way is prosecuting banks that have allegedly helped taxpayers avoid their U.S. tax liabilities. For instance, the Swiss Bank Program required banks to pay hefty fines and disclose information on accounts held by U.S. persons as part of non-prosecution agreements.
For the past decade U.S. government investigators have been ferreting out hidden financial accounts across the world. Much has been written about Department of Justice agreements with Swiss banks starting with UBS. Last year, the agency finalized the last of the non-prosecution agreements under the Swiss Bank Program that involved almost 80 banks.
A lot has been written about the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) disclosure requirements. The Internal Revenue Service has placed a lot of emphasis on offshore tax compliance. As more people realize they need to report foreign financial accounts, the number of these FBARs filed last year reached 1,163,229.
Staying abreast of changes in reporting requirements on foreign accounts has been a significant agenda item for anyone who works in the banking field. The signature authority rules have even resulted in overlapping requirements.
Going through the prompts on Turbo Tax is straightforward until you reach the question about whether you have a foreign bank account. If you answer yes, you need to understand that the failure to disclose could open you to serious civil penalties.
The Fifth Amendment protects an individual from being forced to incriminate himself or herself, often referred to as "pleading the fifth." In the past, some have unsuccessfully attempted to assert the Fifth Amendment as a reason to avoid filing tax returns, or to file tax returns that don't report any income. These arguments, usually asserted by tax protesters, are generally considered frivolous by the IRS and federal courts.