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Things to Look for in an FBAR Attorney

Posted in Offshore Account Update on July 31, 2019 | Share

If a U.S. taxpayer has any offshore bank accounts, they must be familiar with the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) required under U.S. tax law. And if that taxpayer has failed to file FBARs in the past, they must know how to come into FBAR compliance. This is when they must seek out a highly qualified FBAR attorney.

While the term “FBAR attorney” is not an official designation, there are tax attorneys familiar with FBAR issues. Accepting this informal definition, there are Washington DC international tax lawyers who fit the bill.

Accordingly, offshore account holders must know the things to look for in an FBAR attorney.

Look for a Tax Attorney with FBAR Experience

The most basic requirement for an FBAR attorney is their familiarity in dealing with FBAR tax issues.

The FBAR is not filed with the IRS but is instead filed with a Treasury Department bureau known as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). A taxpayer is required to file an FBAR if they meet the following criteria:

  • The taxpayer has a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a financial account based at a foreign financial institution.
  • The aggregate balance of the taxpayer’s foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the tax year.

Any taxpayer who meets the above criteria and fails to file an FBAR could face hefty tax penalties. The penalties are substantially higher for willful violations of the FBAR requirements, as opposed to non-willful violations.

Washington DC international tax lawyers can guide the taxpayer in coming into legal compliance with FBAR requirements for past years. Just as importantly, an attorney can help the taxpayer select the option that minimizes their tax penalties. Whether the solution is utilizing the 2018 Updated Voluntary Disclosure Program, filing a delinquent FBAR, or another option, the tax attorney can advise as to the pros and cons of each.

Look for Washington DC International Tax Lawyers With Criminal Tax Experience

Depending on the situation, the taxpayer with unfiled FBARs could face criminal exposure. This is where Washington DC international tax lawyers with criminal tax experience are vital.

The willful failure to file an FBAR can be considered to be criminal tax evasion or tax fraud. Historically, offshore bank accounts have often been used to hide assets from tax authorities. This leads to U.S. authorities often seeking criminal prosecution to deter such conduct. With criminal penalties that include extremely high fines and years of prison time, a taxpayer with undisclosed offshore accounts must be extremely cautious.

An FBAR attorney with criminal tax experience can advise as to how to navigate the voluntary disclosure process, when appropriate, to avoid criminal prosecution. The attorney may also be able to argue any violations were non-willful, perhaps even negotiating for reduced fines or prison time.

Consult the International Tax Lawyers at Thorn Law Group About Your FBAR Issues

If you are seeking an FBAR attorney with offshore account and criminal tax experience, contact the Washington DC international tax lawyers at the Thorn Law Group. For a consultation, contact Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner, at 202-349-4033.


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