Americans living abroad must file FBAR if they have foreign bank account balances that meet or exceed $10,000 at any point during a calendar year. But when you choose to file jointly with a spouse, how does that impact your FBAR filing? David McKeegan, Co-Founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services explains the situations when you would need to include your spouse’s accounts and when you would not.
Who needs to file the FBAR?
The FBAR or Financial Center Form 114 is required for any US person or entity that has a financial interest or signing authority over foreign financial accounts where the aggregate value is over $10,000 at any point during the year. For this definition, the US person can be a citizen, a green-card holder, a US resident, a corporation, a partnership, an LLC, so it’s not specifically a person. If you think you might fall afoul of this or if you aren’t sure if you’re required to file an FBAR, we highly recommend speaking to a professional.
Do I need to report my spouse’s account on my FBAR?
If your spouse falls into one of these categories, they’re a US person, a resident, a green-card holder, or a citizen, and they have access or signing authority over foreign financial accounts with over $10,000, then, yes, they have to file an FBAR.
There’s an exception for jointly-owned accounts, spousal accounts, and if your spouse meets all of the following requirements, then you don’t have to file a separate FBAR for them. These requirements are:
- all financial accounts that the non-filing spouse is required to report on are jointly owned with the filing spouse, so all the accounts are jointly owned;
- the filing spouse reports the jointly-owned accounts on a timely-filed FBAR electronically signed, so you have to file it by June 30;
- the filers have completed and signed Form 114A, which is the record of authorization to electronically file FBARs.
If you meet all of these, then you can file all of your joint FBAR accounts on one form. If you don’t meet all of these, then you have to file two separate FBARs, even if you have to report some of the same financial accounts.
What if my spouse is not a US citizen or not a US person or entity?
In these cases, you don’t have to report their foreign financial accounts if you don’t have signing authority over them. So if your spouse is not a US person and they own financial accounts, bank accounts, brokerage accounts overseas that you don’t have access to, that you don’t have signing authority over, then those accounts do not need to be reported.
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