by Brian Mahany
There is a fair amount of confusion as to whether a person needs a lawyer to file FBARs. The answer for most people is no.
U.S. taxpayers must report certain offshore financial holdings annually on a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. FBAR for short. The FBAR is a separate form that is not filed with one’s tax return.
Many accountants will prepare FBARs and there are several offshore accounting firms that assist ex pats living outside the U.S. comply with American tax laws. There are some consultants who advertise FBAR preparation as well. While we prefer using CPAs, there are a number of knowledgible consultants that do an equally good job.
So when does one need an FBAR lawyer? Good question! An FBAR attorney is needed when the taxpayer has one or more missing FBARs from prior years.
Failing to report offshore accounts is a crime and can entail massive civil penalties. Although most nonfilers simply don’t understand their foreign reporting obligations, the IRS won’t hesitate to impose harsh penalties.
Simply amending old returns and mailing in the missing FBARs isn’t likely to work either. The IRS discourages so called “quiet disclosures” and says that they may still impose penalties. That means there is much riding on the line when a person falls behind or never properly filed.
Not every lawyer is a tax lawyer and not every tax lawyer has the knowledge to call her or himself as an FBAR lawyer.
If you find yourself with unfiled FBARs, an audit notice or the target of an IRS criminal investigation, contact an experienced FBAR lawyer immediately.
Unlike most IRS programs that contain thousands of pages of regulations, the foreign reporting rules tend to change often and are subject to a wide amount of uncertainty and interpretation. Finding a lawyer who handles these cases on a daily basis could be critical to avoiding high penalties. Knowledge of the rules, trends and people running the program at IRS is critical.
The FBAR lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have helped many taxpayers with a wide variety of offshore reporting problems. From unfiled FBARs to the new FATCA legislation to the current offshore account amnesty program, we can help. Our firm is the exclusive legal services provider to the CPAmerica organization for foreign reporting issues meaning we are the lawyers that other professionals turn to with questions.
For more information, contact attorney Bethany Kroes at or by telephone at (414) 223-0464. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence. Whether you hire or us or not, we will gladly discuss your options at no cost and without obligation.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. IRS tax services available worldwide.
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