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GAO reports confusion over foreign account reporting under FATCA and FBAR
May 25, 2012
Form 8939 v. FBAR: duplicated information

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that duplication of some of the information requested on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, and Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), was creating confusion among taxpayers. Even though Form 8938 and the FBAR were developed to meet two different governmental needs (tax administration and law enforcement), FATCA reporting on Form 8938 may be duplicative in some instances of reporting on the FBAR

The IRS noted that individuals must file each form for which they meet the relevant reporting threshold. But for the sake of taxpayer convenience, the IRS recently posted a comparison chart of Form 8938 and FBAR requirements on its website

The chart addresses many of the important differences between the two forms including:
  • Who is required to file each form?
  • What U.S. territories are subject to the reporting requirements?
  • What is the reporting threshold?
  • When do you have an interest in an account or asset?
  • What is reported?
  • When is the form due?

The FBAR is required because foreign financial institutions may not be subject to the same reporting requirements as domestic financial institutions. The U.S. government can use the information it gleans from FBARs to identify or trace funds used for illicit purposes or to identify unreported income maintained or generated abroad.
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