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PORTIA:
Hello, I'm Portia Bingham and I'm talking with Beth Elfrey about changes in 2009 to the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR.

Beth, before we get into the actual changes, can you please give us a quick reminder about what the FBAR is, when it's due and why it's necessary.

BETH:
Sure, the FBAR is the form individuals or businesses in -- or doing business in -- the United States use to report the financial accounts they have in foreign countries.

It applies if the value of those accounts totals more than $10,000 at any time in the calendar year.

It is due to the IRS by June 30th of the year following the year your foreign accounts meet the $10,000 threshold.

Unlike tax returns, there is no extension to that due date.

The information in the form helps the government curtail the use of foreign accounts to circumvent the income tax law, and aids in combating money laundering.

PORTIA:
I understand that there were several changes to the form for 2009. Can you tell us about some of the changes?

BETH:
We revised the FBAR to make it easier for the filer to complete and to improve the type of information the filer provides.

The new FBAR form allows filers to include all of their foreign financial accounts on one form instead of filing multiple forms as in the past.

Perhaps the most significant change from prior years is that, in addition to U.S. citizens and residents, all persons who are not citizens or residents but who are in, and doing business in, the United States are now subject to the FBAR reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

PORTIA:
Are there any other changes individuals and businesses should know about?

BETH:
There are several other changes to the form.

The instructions have been expanded at the request of many filers who wanted more detailed explanations, such as to the procedure for filing an amended report.

It's now formatted in separate parts tailored to specific filing situations, so it's clearer and easier to complete.

The definition of the term 'financial interest' in the instructions has been expanded to include U.S. persons having interests in corporations, partnerships, or accounts held by a trustee.

There is a new space on the form, Item 4, for reporting identification numbers used by persons who are not able to obtain a Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number.

This space permits the use of identification numbers from foreign passports and similar documents.

For additional changes, see the FBAR, and its instructions on IRS.gov.

PORTIA:
Where can we get more information about the FBAR?

BETH:
There is a wealth of information about the FBAR on IRS.gov, including Publication 4261, Do You Have a Foreign Bank Account?

It is available in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean.

Also, anyone with a question about the FBAR can send e-mail to FBARquestions@irs.gov. This e-mail address is only for questions, though.

Account holders cannot file their FBAR forms through the mailbox.

PORTIA:
Thank you, Beth.

I've been talking with Beth Elfrey, of the IRS.

This is Portia Bingham.

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