FBAR deadline extended to October 31st 2020
The Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (FinCEN Form 114 aka ‘FBAR’) are due on April 15th annually, however, there is an automatic extension to the FBAR deadline given until October 15th.
On October 14th, 2020, the eve of the 2019 FBAR deadline, FinCEN posted an incorrect message on its Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) E-Filing website. The post read “The FBAR deadline for Federal tax year 2019 has been moved from October 15th, 2020 to December 31st, 2020” incorrectly stating there was a new filing extension until December 31st, 2020 for all FBAR filers.
Taking into consideration the situation with Covid-19 and the 2019 Federal Income Tax Return deadline being extended from April 15th, 2020 to July 15th, 2020, the new extension did not come as a surprise.
However, within 24 hours this message was removed from the FinCEN website. A new notice was posted, stating that the December 31st, 2020 extension is only available to victims of recent natural disasters, an extension that had already been announced on October 6th, 2020.
On October 16th, 2020, FinCEN apologized for the error and confusion it caused. Because some filers may have been misled and missed the October 15th deadline, FinCEN has now extended the 2019 FBAR filing deadline to October 31st, 2020 for all filers.
Victims of natural disasters (California Wildfires, the Iowa Derecho, Hurricane Laura, the Oregon Wildfires, and Hurricane Sally) covered by the October 6th notice, continue to have a December 31st deadline.
All US persons who possess an ownership interest or signatory authority over one or more foreign accounts with an aggregate highest balance during the calendar year exceeding $10,000 must file an FBAR.
Failure to timely file an FBAR can result in a maximum civil penalty of $12,921 for a non-wilful violation while, in wilful cases, the maximum current penalty is the greater of $129,210 or 50% of the balance and/or criminal prosecution (as in the recent case against Paul Manafort).