FBAR (pronounced eff-bar) is the acronym for the original form, Foreign Bank Account Report.  In time for the 2015 filing season, and in conjunction with the renaming of various governmental agencies, the name of the form was changed to Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Report 114.  (Is it any wonder it is still referred to as the FBAR?)  You can search for it on the internet this way.  Even IRS publications still use FBAR.

Effectively, it is a list of all financial accounts outside of the USA, to which your name is attached.   You might own the account 100%, or only own part of the account.  You might simply be a signer on the account, and actually own none of it.  For example, you are the treasurer for a missionary hospital that maintains a bank account in Brazil, or you and your brother are both signers on your mom’s bank accounts back home in Egypt. 

These accounts could be any of the following:  bank accounts such as checking or savings accounts, brokerage accounts, trusts, investments, and so on.  If the balance in any one account hits $10,000 USD at any point in the year, you need to deal with the FBAR.  If the total of all ‘your’ foreign accounts hit $10,000 USD at any point in the year, you need to deal with the FBAR.

Currently, there are 2 important changes to FBAR reporting.

  1. The filing date has been moved to April 15.  (Formerly, it was June 30.)
  2. You can now request an extension up to October 15. (Formerly, there was no extension.)

And what happens if you don’t file?  Good old fines and penalties!

So, if any of this seems even remotely like something that might impact you, take action!  Get more information if you need it.  Search online.  Read.   Ask your accountant.

And be ready to file!  You can file it for free at the BSA E-Filing System, or you can probably find some online service that charges a fee.  Remember!  It’s just a list, and you can probably do it yourself.

(Please note, this is probably the most boring thing I ever wrote.  Apologies!)