As a result of the Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (the “Choice Act”), the deadline for filing a FinCEN Form 114 (a.k.a. “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” or “FBAR”) for 2016 is the same date federal income tax returns are due, April 18, 2017. (Yes, it’s usually April 15th, but that’s a Saturday this year and on Monday, April 17th, Washington, D.C. is celebrating Emancipation Day.) Before this change, the filing deadline had been June 30th of the year following the report year.
For those not familiar with FBARs, a primer: U.S. persons (including U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, and entities such as corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, and estates, that are formed under the laws of the United States) having a financial interest in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts with an aggregate value in excess of $10,000 at any time during the calendar year must file a report with FinCEN (short for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury). There are, of course, consequences for failing to file. The Secretary of the Treasury may impose a penalty of $10,000 per violation for any non-willful failure to properly file an FBAR. If the failure is willful, however, the Secretary may impose a civil penalty of the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the balance of the account at the time of the violation, in addition to various criminal penalties.
The Choice Act also provides that the deadline for filing an FBAR may be extended until October 15th. FinCEN has stated that it will grant this extension automatically in the case of any person who fails to file an FBAR by the normal deadline, so there’s no need to actually request an extension.