There will soon be another way you can trip up and have to pay the $10,000 minimum penalty for failure to fully report your foreign bank and financial accounts: forget to file the Form 114 Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) without including any virtual currency held in a foreign account. In the past, this was not required to be reported, and if you did not have any other type of foreign bank account, you may not have been filing this form. But, that will all be changing soon.
FinCEN Notice 2020-2
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently stated it intends to change applicable regulations to make virtual currency reportable on a FBAR. This development is another indication of the growing popularity of digital money.
Generally, any US person who has a financial interest in, or signatory authority over, any “reportable” foreign financial account must file an FBAR with the FinCEN if the aggregate value of the account(s) exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. This is in addition to the filing of a Form 1040 to report the income from these accounts. Reportable accounts include bank accounts, securities and other types of financial accounts.
Meanwhile, virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account and/or a store of value. It can sometimes operate like “real” currency — in other words, the coin and paper money of the United States, or of any other country, that’s deemed legal tender, circulates and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance. However, virtual currency doesn’t have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.
We have written about proper FBAR reporting in the past and have dealt with a number of taxpayers who have run afoul of this reporting requirement. Often, even if they have been properly reporting all of the income from these accounts on their Form 1040. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) reporting requirements has exposed a number of individuals who were failing to file the FBAR report on a timely basis.
As of this writing, no specifics are available regarding precisely when the new regulations will be issued in either proposed or final form. If you believe this development may affect you, please contact a Moore Doeren Mayhew international tax advisor, who can provide you with information on the latest details related to this enforcement effort.