So you were working on your tax return and you read that you needed to prepare a form TD F 90.22.1, right? That’s a mouthful isn’t it? That’s why it’s been nicknamed the FBAR. If you need to file the FBAR, it’s really not that difficult. Let me walk you through it.
First, you need the form. It’s on the IRS website, here’s a link to get it: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f90221.pdf. Most software programs do not include the FBAR form in them. My professional software finally added the FBAR this year, which makes it an incredible time saver, but most at home programs still don’t include it because the FBAR isn’t filed with your income tax return. I’m going to give you the instructions based on doing the form on the IRS website.
First, for Box 1, in the upper right hand corner, you’ll need to input the year. So right now you’re doing 2011. The input is a little goofy – you have to hit tab to get to the next number. You’ll type 2 tab 0 tab 1 tab 1. As you try to move through the document, the tab key can always get you to the next box. (I prefer using the mouse myself, but the tab key will get you where you need to go.)
Box 2, Type of Filer: I’m usually working with individuals, but partnerships, corporations and trusts with foreign accounts are all required to report these accounts. If you’re a person filing a 1040, you would check “individual.” If you are a married couple and you and your spouse both have foreign accounts, you would each file an FBAR in your own name.
Box 3, US Taxpayer Identification Number: that’s going to be your Social Security Number or ITIN. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to complete box 4; otherwise box 4 is left blank.
Boxes 5 through 13 are pretty simple: your date of birth, your name, and where you live. Where is says “Country,” it refers to the country where you live, not the country your bank account is in.
Box 14 asks if you have 25 or more financial accounts. Most people just have one or two. But if you have 25 or more check the “yes” box and you don’t have to fill out parts 2 and 3. I also suspect that you’d better keep really good records for the IRS if you check the yes box, so don’t check “yes” just to avoid having to fill out the other parts. You’re basically telling the IRS that your accounts will require more scrutiny if you do.
Part II is about your actual accounts. Box 15 is asking for the maximum amount of funds that you had in the account all year. They are asking about the account in US Dollars. (You can see my post about reporting interest income to learn how to use the currency converter if you need help with that.) What I mean by the maximum amount of funds during the year is exactly that. What’s the most money that was in there all year? For example: let’s say you started the year with $20,000 USD, and you ended the year with $20,000 USD – well you’d think that you’d put $20,000 USD down in the box. But, maybe you transferred $10,000 USD into the account in the middle of the year to help your parents buy a new house. So that means the highest amount you had in that bank account was $30,000 USD, even though that amount was only temporary.
Box 16 is what type of account – bank, securities, or other.
Boxes 17 through 23 are all basic – name of bank, address of bank, what’s your account number, etc.
If you have more than one foreign account, there are continuation pages where you can list your other accounts. If you only have one foreign account, you’re almost done.
Be sure to sign the form at the bottom. If you’re an individual, you don’t need to put anything in the title box. Don’t forget to date your return.
The FBAR does not go with your federal income tax return. It gets mailed separately to an address in Detroit:
Department of the Treasury
Post Office Box 32621
Detroit, MI 48232-0621
The FBAR form is not required to be filed until June 30th. But why would you wait? Since you’re doing this because you had to report the information on your US income tax return, just finish the FBAR form and mail it in now so you don’t forget.
More FBAR information: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=148849,00.html