Do I need to file an FBAR or an 8938?

Date: December 29, 2020

Generally, any U.S. citizen, resident, or person doing business in the United States who has an ownership interest in, or signatory authority or other authority over, a financial account (or several accounts) in a foreign country with an aggregate value in excess of $10,000 at any time during the calendar year must file a Form FinCEN Report 114, “Report of Foreign
Bank and Financial Accounts” (commonly referred to as an FBAR), reporting certain information with  respect to that account by April 15 of the subsequent year or the extension due date of October 15. Failure to file an FBAR is subject to both civil and criminal  penalties.

In addition to the FBAR individuals must use Form 8938 to report specified foreign financial assets with an aggregate value greater than $50,000 at the last day of the year or more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year (this threshold doubles for married individuals filing jointly). The Form 8938 is required to be filed with an individual’s annual income tax return.  Individuals not required to file an annual income tax return are not required to file the Form  8938.  While the purposes of the Form 8938 and FBAR are similar, and there is significant overlap. Yet filing the Form 8938 does not relieve an individual of the requirement to file the FBAR. Many individuals will be required to file both the Form 8938 and the FBAR to report substantially the same information.  Oddly the reports go to different parts of the government.  The FBAR is filed with FINCEN.GOV while the 8938 is filed with the IRS.   Despite the similarities, there are some differences between the FBAR and the Form 8938. The FBAR is not filed with an individual’s federal income tax return and must be filed with the Treasury by April 15 each year. In addition, the filing  thresholds for the Form 8938 and the FBAR are different, and the foreign financial assets that must
be reported on the Form 8938 are not limited to bank and financial accounts.