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FABAR Reporting

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I have an enquiry from a potential client to do FABAR reporting for him. He said that based on his foreign earnings and assets he was supposed to do FABAR reporting for past several years but he did not get around to doing it. FABAR reporting is all online only. My question is should I just do his2014 FABAR reporting and go forward or do I need to do his past FABAR reporting also. If I need to do his past FABAR reporting how do I do that because system normally only let you do current FABAR reporting.


Thanks for your help.


Naveen Mohan    

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From everything that I have read or learned in classes, you should probably send the potential client to an attorney that is experienced in these dealings. If they are delinquent, there are large penalties. I have in my engagement letter that if my client's know or think that they have FABAR or FATCA  reporting, that they should contact an attorney that is experienced in these matters. The attorney can then hire me, if necessary. It's just too much liability for me to want to take on.

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From Experience:

Personal....had to consult a specialist in this specific field; then we decided how to proceed

Professional....client went to somebody else (a tax lawyer) who handled his foreign inheritance & tax return for 2012; it seems lawyer screwed up and client had to pay a major penalty (now an ex-client, so no follow-up); moral of the story....it's not a learning experience for a "general lawyer" or even a tax attorney unless he's experienced with this

My advice.....don't get involved.

I can give you a referral for the lawyer I used if you want.

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This can be a piece of cake or it can be a criminal case that demands an attorney.  The difference hinges on whether the taxpayer reported the income from his foreign assets on his US tax returns.  If he did, you can go ahead and file the late FBARs (now FinCENs) on the BSA website.  You have to register first, but it's not hard to do. http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Delinquent-FBAR-Submission-Procedures

If he did not, you have a problem.  The first thing I would do is apply for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program by faxing the application.  If the IRS doesn't already have the taxpayer's name from the foreign bank or brokerage, he should be accepted (but it can take months to be notified). At the same time tell your client to get a tax attorney who will call the shots from that point on. The attorney may hire you as a Kovel accountant, meaning you're working for the attorney and not the client so you won't have to testify against him ("Please understand, Mr X knew he had to file these forms but just didn't get around to it.").  Set aside time to amend EIGHT years of tax returns.  Form 8938 may also be required for the years it existed.

There is a streamlined procedure to apply if your client qualifies.  All this is explained at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Report-of-Foreign-Bank-and-Financial-Accounts-FBAR

Let the attorney make all the decisions.  Make sure your client knows this is going to be expensive--your fees, attorney fees, past due income taxes, failure to pay penalties (mandatory).  I had a client who originally owed maybe $100k and settled through the voluntary program for multiple times that (plus the attorney, plus me).  The alternative is paying half of the highest balance in the account for EACH YEAR, plus jail time.  The stakes are high, but don't let it scare you.  With a competent attorney in control, all you'll be doing is tax returns and FBARs, and you can do those.  Charge a lot--you're worth it.

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