How to File FBAR

The International Attorneys Guide on How to File FBAR

If you hold a financial interest or signature authority in an array of foreign financial accounts such as a brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, bank account or other financial accounts that exceed certain monetary thresholds. In short, a U.S. person must file FBAR if he or she has a financial interest or signature authority in one or more foreign accounts with an aggregate value of $10,000 or more, at any time during the year yet there are few places to locate information on how to file FBAR. A U.S. person includes citizens, residents, and domestic entities, trust, or estates that were organized or formed under U.S. law. Depending on your particular financial circumstances you may be required by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) to report your financial holdings by electronically filing, or e-filing, your Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). While in years previous you were able to file FBAR through a number of methods, e-filing through the BSA’s system is currently the sole means of filing.

 

How to file your FBAR electronicallyHow to file FBAR

Electronic filing is the only currently accepted method for FBAR filings. However, prior to filing online you must first prepare your Windows or OS X computer system. You should avoid using a public or shared computer to enter and transmit sensitive information of this type. You should use a trusted computer, however it is prudent to run a malware and virus scan prior to entering any sensitive personal or financial information.

Once you are logged into a trusted computer, you should ensure that Adobe Reader is properly installed and set as the default PDF reader for your web browser. If when you try to open the FBAR PDF you receive the message, “Please wait, If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document”, it is likely that your PDF reader is not correctly installed. While Internet Explorer 8.0+, Firefox 19.0.2 and higher, Chrome 25+, and Safari 7.0.2 are supported, the method of setting Adobe’s PDF reader as default differs for each browser. If you have difficulty in changing your default PDF reader googling, “How to set adobe pdf as default reader in [your web browser]” can provide you with instructions to satisfy this prerequisite.

Once your computer is properly configured, you should navigate to the BSA’s FBAR e-filing site. Once the page has loaded, click the “Prepare FBAR” button near the top of the page. Your browser will download the PDF. You should open it directly so that it opens in Adobe PDF Reader where you will complete the document.

The first field is titled “Filing name”. This field is an identifier and a descriptive name the fully and clearly defines your FBAR should be entered. This information can be used to identify your claim if you need assistance or support from the help desk. Once you have entered a descriptive identifier your should proceed to disclose the information requested by each line item on the FBAR form. For instance, item 2 asks about what type of filer you are. You should select the appropriate business entity for your individual account, business entity, or fiduciary duty. Brief instructions for other line items are contained in this line item guide for the BSA.

 

How to file FBAR in 2016Validate, sign, and e-file your FBAR

Once you have completed the FBAR you should return to the first page and click the Validate button. Clicking this button will ask the PDF reader to check if you have entered data in each required box. While it may catch malformed data, it is unlike to catch mistakes where digits may be transposed. Therefore one filing an FBAR should also verify the entered data manually. If you receive an error, you should go back and correct it. If there are no errors, the PDF reader will display the prompt: “This form needs to be signed in order to submit.”

You should sign the form by clicking the Sign the Form button that is also located on the first page of the PDF document. When you click the Sign the Form button, the following message will be displayed:  “I acknowledge that I am electronically signing the BSA report.” To sign the document and acknowledge your electronic signature you should click the Yes button.

Now that your FBAR has been signed, you should save it so that it can be uploaded. You can save the completed and signed FBAR PDF by clicking the Save button on the first page of the PDF. You should save the document to a location that is easily accessible, like your desktop or My Documents folder, and give the file a name so that you can identify it.

Once the file is saved, you should return to the FBAR e-filing site in your web browser and click the Submit FBAR button. On the page that opens you should enter your email address, confirm your e-mail, enter your first and last name and your phone number. You should also click the Choose File button and select the FBAR PDF that you previously saved. Once the form is complete, click the Submit button. You should be taken to a confirmation screen which will provide you with a tracking ID in the format of: FF14-0000000000. This confirmation and tracking information should also be emailed to the address you provided. You should receive a follow-up e-mail within two days that states your FBAR has been processed and that a 14 digit BSA identifier beginning with 310000 has been assigned.

 

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Put our FBAR experience to work for you

The Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing has developed national practices as to federal income tax issues administered by the IRS and knows how to file FBAR. Regardless of your home state or state of residency we can address your foreign asset issues in relation to the BSA and FBAR disclosure. Our firm ensures accurate filings while advocating for client’s position.