IRS Says Foreign Bank Account Filings Climbed Last Year

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Foreign bank account report filings surpassed the 1 million mark last year, up more than 8 percent from 2014, the Internal Revenue Service reported Tuesday.

U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts exceeding certain thresholds must file Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, also known as an FBAR. It is filed electronically with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Networ, or FinCen. In 2015, FinCen received a record high 1,163,229 FBARs, up more than 8 percent from the prior year. In fact, FBAR filings have grown on average by 17 percent per year during the last five years, according to FinCen data.

Filings of IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, have also been rising in recent years. Taxpayers filed more than 300,000 Forms 8938 with their tax returns for tax year 2014, roughly the same as the prior year and up from about 200,000 for tax year 2011, the first year of the form. Form 8938 resulted from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA. The filing thresholds are much higher for this form than for the FBAR.

“Taxpayers here and abroad need to take their offshore tax and filing obligations seriously," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Improving offshore compliance has been a top priority of the IRS for several years, and we are seeing very positive results.”

Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over, foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2015 must file FBARs. It is due by June 30 and must be filed electronically through the BSA E-Filing System website.

Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain non-resident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on Form 8938 if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. Reporting thresholds vary based on whether a taxpayer files a joint income tax return or lives abroad. The lowest reporting threshold for Form 8938 is $50,000 but varies by taxpayer.

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