Friday, April 27, 2012


We all know that FUBAR means, "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition". What does FBAR mean?
How about "Fleeced Beyond All Recovery"? Nah. It actually stands for, "Foreign Bank And Financial Accounts". Right. Well, the form terrorizing people now is the Form 8938, which is new for most people this year. I'm addressing US Citizens living overseas now and the threshold of who must file is determined thusly:

If you are a taxpayer living abroad you must file if:

  • You are filing a return other than a joint return and the total value of your specified foreign assets is more than $200,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $300,000 at any time during the year;

  • OR

  • You are filing a joint return and the value of your specified foreign asset is more than $400,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $600,000 at any time during the year.

This is from the IRS. If you don't have assets like these, rest easy (yes, as in, "calm down") and forget this form, at least this year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Foreign Financial Assets

There is another deadline looming on the horizon for US citizens living overseas, and it could include those living domestically in the US. It is the filing date for the form TD F 90-22.1 which is June 30 each year and there is no provision for an extension. If you (wherever you live) have more than US$ 10,000 in foreign financial assets, you are supposed to file this form. Willful failure to file gets you a penalty of US$ 10,000! Supposedly, if you neglected to file in previous years and you file to catch up with an appropriate "mea culpa" (I'm guilty) statement asking for forgiveness, the fine will be forgiven. This is for "financial" assets only and, "yes" it includes your checking account from which you buy groceries if you live overseas and the balance goes over $10,000 even once during the year. Sorry to give you the bad news. Don't get caught on this one as not filing. Take care of it. Soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Overseas Due Date

Just a quick hint if you're overseas and can't get your tax return filed by April 15: you don't have to.
The good news is that you can get an automatic extension to June 15 just by claiming it on an election statement included with the tax return. Assuming you're not military, you should state that you live outside the United States and were residing outside the United States during the time period that includes April 15 and you claim the automatic extension to June 15.
No penalties. However, the IRS will charge interest on unpaid taxes from April 15 which should not be much. So, rest easy and check again for another tip that will help keep you out of trouble.