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Articles Posted in FBAR Violations

The Tax Consequences of Inheriting Foreign Assets
U.S. taxpayers who inherit foreign assets must handle the tax consequences of their inheritances with great care. In addition to taxing all worldwide income, the U.S. also includes foreign assets in the gift and estate tax calculation, which determines whether estate tax will be assessed. Heirs who receive foreign assets also have to consider their Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) and other foreign account reporting requirements, or risk facing significant penalties.

What Happens When You Inherit a Foreign Account?

If you are a “United States person”—including citizens, permanent residents,(individuals who hold green cards) or must file taxes due to their substantial presence in the United States—you may suddenly have an FBAR filing requirement if you inherit a foreign financial account. If the aggregate of all of your foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any point during the year, you must file an FBAR.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for FBAR Penalties?
The IRS has six years from the due date of the FBAR to assess the FBAR penalty. In addition, the IRS can assess a separate penalty for each unreported account for each tax year that an FBAR has not been filed, causing the total amount of penalties to add up quickly for some taxpayers.

The current civil FBAR penalties are $12,459 per violation for non-willful violations and the greater of $124,588 or 50 percent of the balance in the account at the time of the violation, for each willful violation. An individual with five foreign financial accounts who has not filed any required FBARs for the past six years could then face a penalty of over $373,000, and that is assuming that the violations are considered to be non-willful.

These penalties can be reduced in certain cases if the IRS believes that penalty mitigation is appropriate. Taxpayers will no previous history of criminal tax violations who cooperate with IRS examiners may receive reduced penalties. If you need assistance negotiating a reduced FBAR penalty, contact a tax attorney with FBAR experience.

How Does the IRS Collect FBAR Penalties?
The IRS imposes severe penalties on taxpayers who fail to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Those who are required to file an FBAR and fail to do so can face the following penalties:

  • a civil penalty not to exceed $12,459 per violation for non-willful violations that are not due to reasonable cause
  • a penalty equal to the greater of $124,588 or 50 percent of the balance in the account at the time of the violation, for each willful violation

Swiss Banker Pleads Guilty to Defrauding the United States with Tax Scheme
A former employee of Credit Suisse bank has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States. Susanne D. Rüegg Meier admitted to a tax scheme that allowed U.S. taxpayers to hide their assets in Swiss bank accounts. The plea agreement states that Credit Suisse went to great lengths to assist their clients in evading their U.S. tax obligations, including reporting their foreign income on their tax return and filing accurate FBARs.

Some components of the scheme include the following:

  • all mail related to the accounts were retained in Switzerland

California Resident Indicted for Hiding Foreign Accounts
A Beverly Hills resident has been indicted on several charges for failing to disclose foreign accounts and then allegedly lying to the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) unit. The charges faced by Teymour Khoubian include the following:

  • corruptly endeavoring to impede the internal revenue laws
  • filing false tax returns