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FBARs

Streamlined Offshore Procedures: A Lifeline for Delinquent FBARs (2024 Update)

If you are a US resident or citizen and manage overseas accounts, you must be well aware and familiar with the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Failure to file this form may result in substantial penalties. In addition, if it comes to notice that the previous year’s FBARs have not been filed, this may induce additional panic and anxiety.

However, the IRS has introduced a program called Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFOP) this time, which mitigates all the potential risks of facing penalties and helps you manage the cash flow stream efficiently.

What is an FBAR?

FBAR is a form (FinCEN Form 114) that US citizens and residents residing abroad must file annually in case they have total combined foreign financial accounts exceeding $10,000 at any given point during the year. Such a combination may include bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and investment accounts held outside the US.

The Peril of Delinquent FBARs

FBAR is of crucial importance, particularly for US residents or citizens owning an overseas account and failure to file it on time may result in facing significant penalties. The maximum penalty that an individual can face is up to 50% of the account balance, or $100,000 per violation. However, the value of the penalty can be variable depending on the intention, whether the failure to file was willful or not.

The Streamlined Offshore Procedures (SFOP): A Path to Redemption

The SFOP is a program specifically designed for those US taxpayers who, by mistake, missed filing their FBARs or tax returns for previous years. It allows them to pick up the missed filings and mitigate the risks of penalties to the lowest level or sometimes even avoid penalties completely.

Who Qualifies for SFOP (as of 2024)?

In order to qualify for the SFOP under the 2024 tax laws, the following criteria must be met:.

An individual must be a US citizen or resident for tax purposes when filing delinquent FBARs.

The failure to file FBARs was not willful, meaning it was not intentionally avoided in filing the form.

  • An individual must not have participated in or taken part in any other IRS offshore voluntary disclosure program.
  • An individual must comply with all US tax filing requirements.
  • Delinquent FBARs must be filed electronically using the FinCEN BSA E-Filing system.

What are the Benefits of SFOP?

The fundamental benefit of SFOP is that it is likely to avoid substantial penalties for delinquent FBARs. Hence, if an individual qualifies for it, he may be able to:

  • Eliminate FBAR penalties.
  • Be able to pay a reduced penalty compared to the standard FBAR penalties.

In case you qualify for SFOP, here are the guidelines for what you need to do:

  • File Delinquent FBARs: File FBARs electronically for the last six years using the FinCEN BSA E-Filing System.
  • File Delinquent Tax Returns (if applicable): For the last three years, it is necessary to file any delinquent US tax returns.
  • Submit a Statement of Explanation: This document explains why an individual failed to file FBARs and tax returns on time. There should be honesty and a detailed explanation of the circumstances that substantiate the non-willful conduct.

Conclusion:

This excerpt explains the benefits of using streamlined offshore procedures for US citizens and residents with delinquent FBARs. By going through the profound findings of the article, one can understand the program’s requirements and its potential benefits. 

However, as far as technicality is concerned, it should not be dependent on it but rather take professional guidance from the tax expert to navigate the risks appropriately.

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