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Reporting Foreign Bank Accounts to the IRS

If you had a foreign bank account or any combination of foreign bank accounts that exceeded $10,000 (in total) at any point in the year, you need to submit Form TDF 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank Accounts. This form is due on or before June 30 of the following year, and no extensions are possible. However, the guidance from all reliable sources is that it is better to file the form late than not at all, since fines are generally imposed for not filing rather than for late filing.

 

The IRS is very clear about the fact that all qualifying accounts have a reporting obligation, even if they produce no taxable income.

 

The penalties for not filing the form are severe, though rarely imposed (read the fine print at the bottom, “a fine of not more than $500,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years”).

 

This form causes a lot of confusion each year, more than any other form I deal with. The IRS also rejects (or “requests additional information for”) a large number of these forms for being incomplete. It is important to fill out every applicable line on the form, or the IRS computer will automatically spit it out, which is a headache to deal with (and no one likes additional correspondence from the IRS!).

 

Here are some tips to help you fill out this form and some common mistakes to avoid:

 

1) Don’t forget to complete Items 1-3 at the top (Year, Type of Filer and SSN/ITIN)

 

2) Be sure to complete your date of birth on Line 8.

 

3) You need to do a separate form for taxpayer and spouse, even for joint accounts (if applicable)

 

4) You need to do separate forms for joint accounts and individual accounts, therefore it is possible to have two sets of forms for each spouse (one set for individual accounts and one set for joint accounts)

 

5) You need to list all non-US accounts, even ones under $10,000

 

6) The value for Line 22 is the maximum value at any point in the year (even an instant)

 

7) Make sure to sign and date the form (yes, the IRS will send you a notice even if you only forget the date!)

 

8) If you are required to file the form, make sure to also indicate “Yes” on Line 7a of Form 1040, Schedule B.

 

9) Even if you do not need to file Schedule B to report interest and dividends, you do need to include the form with your tax return if you indicate “Yes” in Box 7a (don’t forget to indicate the country on Line 7b).

 

10) You can save this form and use it again for future years, by changing the Year in Box 1 and updating any accounts that have changed. However, you should always use the most recent form if possible (which can be found at www.irs.gov).

 

Source: Worldview Wealth Advisors, By David Colvin, CPA, CFP – 2011