U.S. persons who maintain bank accounts overseas with high balances are required to file the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (FBARs) each year. Effective July 1, 2013, all FBARs must be filed electronically using the E-Filing System maintained by the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). On July 29, 2013, FinCEN introduced a new form FinCEN Form 114(a), Record of Authorization to Electronically File FBARs. This form permits a U.S. person with foreign bank accounts to authorize a third party (such as a tax preparer or a CPA) to file FBARs on behalf of the account holder. This form also allows spouses to jointly file an FBAR. In the past, if married couples jointly owned foreign accounts, they either both needed to file FBARs or both sign in the signature box of the FBARs. This new form permits FBARs to be signed and filed jointly by married couples. Also, this form would not be filed with FinCEN. Account holders and filers must keep this form for 5 years and produce the form upon request by FinCEN or IRS.
FinCEN is also making technical revisions to its E-Filing system to accommodate FBAR e-filings and batch filing capacity. A BSA E-Filing Test website has been establish for such purpose.