Most United States persons who have foreign financial accounts are aware that they must file an annual report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with respect to these accounts. Less well known, however, is that individuals who have been named in a power of attorney document as “attorney-in-fact” for another person may also be required to report all foreign financial accounts over which they have signature authority as a result of the role as attorney-in-fact. The IRS has recently released a “Reference Guide on the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)” that provides instruction on IRS filing requirements with respect to foreign financial accounts. The Reference Guide specifically identifies attorneys-in-fact with signature authority over foreign financial accounts as being required FBAR filers, even if they have never exercised the authority given to them. Accordingly, individuals whose power of attorney documents authorize others to act on their behalf with respect to foreign financial accounts, as well as those individuals who have been named as attorneys-in-fact by someone else, should consult their legal and tax advisors about their own compliance obligations.
FBAR Filing Requirements -
The Bank Secrecy Act requires any United States person who has a financial interest in, or signature authority over, financial accounts located outside of the U.S., for whom the aggregate value of all such foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, to report each account yearly to the IRS by filing a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts.
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