US citizens and foreign accounts

15th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

Many American expats are still not aware of the obligation to file a report on their foreign bank and financial accounts. We explain what must be done.

There is no tax calculated with the filing of this form

Also known as TD F 90-22.1, this form is not new. However in 2004 it received increasing attention with more efforts by the US Department of Treasury to enforce the requirement to file information on foreign accounts.

Who should file the form?
1. Are you a US person?  A US person is:
• US citizen,
• US permanent resident, also known as a green card holder, and
• US resident based on physical presence in the US of at least 183 days.

2. Has the sum of the accounts outside the US where you have a financial interest or signature authority exceeded at any time during the year the value of USD10,000? 

If you answered yes to both questions, then you should provide the information requested on the form and file it.

Financial Interest or Signature Authority?
Everyone has a financial interest in their bank account that they use personally for savings, investments, retirement, or day to day use.  If due to work they also have certain responsibilities for the bank account of their employer, such as being able to authorize payments, then they have a signature authority.  As a majority shareholder of a corporation that has a foreign bank account, a financial interest exists in that bank account. 

Why do you need to file the form?
If it is determined that you intentionally did not file this form, you could face some heavy fines (up to USD500,000), civil and criminal penalties, and imprisonment.  There is no tax calculated with the filing of this form, it is for information purposes only.  If you have not been filing this form yet, start now.

When is it due and where should the completed form be sent to?
The filing due date of the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts is 30 June  every year.  This form is not filed with your US tax return, it is separate from filing your income tax return.  The form should be sent to the following address:

US Department of the Treasury
PO Box 32621
Detroit MI  48232-0621

For a copy of the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts with filing instructions, please go to:
You can also find this form by going to the IRS website:  0700 Form TD F 90-22.1 (PDF) Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

Constanze Woelfle established Solutions 4 Expats BV in April 2004 in order to provide professional US tax services for US citizens living and working outside the US as well as foreign nationals living and working within the US.

15 June 2006

[Copyright Constanze Woelfle 2006]

Subject: US expat tax

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