Almost every tax form uses a postmark deadline. For example, if you mail your tax return on April 15th (using certified mail, return receipt requested, of course), and the post office sends your return to Fresno via Fargo so it doesn’t get there for two weeks, your return is still timely filed. It was mailed by the deadline. Unfortunately, for every rule there’s an exception. The FBAR is where the exception can be very, very nasty.
What’s an FBAR? The FBAR is shorthand language for the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (Form TD F 90-22.1). If you have $10,000 in one or more foreign financial accounts, you must file an FBAR. This is determined by taking the maximum balance of each account at any time during 2012, summing the maximums, and comparing that sum to $10,000. If you reach that $10,000 number, you must file an FBAR.
Some examples of foreign financial accounts include bank accounts, securities accounts, and third-party payment accounts (e.g. Moneybookers/Skrill and Neteller). Online gambling sites are not considered foreign financial accounts.
You have two choices as to completing the FBAR. You can electronically file it using the BSA efile system or you can print the form and mail it to the Department of the Treasury. This form needs to be received by June 30th (for reporting 2012), and there are no extensions.
Since June 30th falls on a Sunday, the deadline is really Monday, July 1st, right? Wrong. This deadline isn’t extended, so if it is received at the PO Box in Detroit where FBARs are sent on Saturday, June 29th, it would likely be timely filed. It definitely will be considered timely filed if it is received on Friday, June 28th. That makes the true mailing deadline tomorrow, June 25th.
You can send it via FedEx, DHL, or UPS overnight; that would give you until Thursday, June 27th.
The good news is that many of my clients who file the FBAR have been able to use the BSA system without any problems this year. It appears that the system now works in most browsers (last year, it only worked in Internet Explorer). You get a receipt when you efile (which you should save, of course).
The penalties for willfully not filing the FBAR start at $100,000 per account or half the value of the account, whichever is greater. So if you have an FBAR filing requirement, this is something to take care of now. The form is not particularly odious, but the penalties are.