How to Find a Good Tax Attorney
You’ve discovered you have to file the Foreign Bank Account Report but are having trouble finding an FBAR attorney. As you search across the web, it may seem as though there are attorneys for any number of issues, except this specific one.
If you’re looking for an FBAR lawyer, but having trouble finding the right person for your case, you aren’t alone. In fact, there is actually no such thing as an “FBAR lawyer”. FBAR is simply shorthand for a Foreign Bank Account Report which must be filed with the IRS.
The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) requires taxpayers with accounts totaling more than $10,000 to file an annual report with the U.S. Treasury. For taxpayers with offshore accounts totaling more than $50,000 during 2011, a brand new requirement came into effect – Form 8938 (Statement of Foreign Financial Assets).
With the full enforcement of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) on July 1, 2014, all foreign banks began requiring their U.S. account holders to disclose their social security numbers and other information. Banks do this to both protect themselves, and to report U.S. account holders who have foreign accounts to the IRS. But the IRS knows that most people aren’t willfully evading taxes. The creation of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, offers reduced civil penalties for taxpayers who come forward with unreported accounts and can ensure that you don’t face FBAR criminal penalties.
Given the recent publicity surrounding FBARs, and the civil and criminal penalties associated with the failure to file an FBAR, individuals with offshore accounts and tax issues are on the hunt for an FBAR attorney. Stop searching for an “FBAR attorney” and focus your search on a premier tax attorney.
If you don’t come forward and disclose your foreign assets, you could face a civil FBAR penalty of $10,000 per account, per year. You read that right. That means if you have 5 years and 20 accounts in each year, you could face a $1M FBAR penalty, even if all those accounts combined only held $11,000. Tack on the potential criminal penalties, and you’ll wish you had spent a little time and money up-front talking to a tax professional.
You don’t need just any tax attorney, though. With the aggressive nature of the IRS audit process and the possibility that criminal charges can be brought for failure to file FBAR, you should seek out a tax attorney with both tax litigation and criminal tax skills to help you navigate the murky waters of IRS disclosure.
This is not an area of the law you want to try to go it alone. Seek out a qualified tax attorney with experience litigating and handling the IRS. If you choose to go alone, or choose to ignore the filing requirement altogether you could face thousands in civil penalties and jail time.