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IRS Extends Deadline for Disclosing Hidden Offshore Accounts 

Due to numerous requests from tax professionals representing international clients the IRS has announced a final extension for filing late foreign bank account reports and other foreign information disclosure information. IRS has stated this is a final extension and could end at any time without advanced notice.

I, for one, am concerned regarding the language of the IRS news alert. Although most American Taxpayers are honest and report their worldwide income as required, rather than announcing an extension of the deadline for filing late foreign bank account reports (FBARs or Form TDF 90-22.1), it refers to "disclosure of hidden offshore accounts". Most American expatriates keep all of their investment accounts here in the U.S. and use a foreign non interest bearing checking account to pay local bills. Often the balance never exceeds the $10,000 filing threshold. Others accept employment abroad and are given signing authority over corporate accounts in which they have no financial interest; however these also must be disclosed but the Taxpayer is not aware that an annual FBAR was required. Clearly there is no intent to hide anything. Yet the official announcement IR-2009-084  reads like a news story by a reporter with an ax to grind. In fact, even though this announcement was emailed by the IRS as an official announcement, it is written in the third person.

The bottom line is if you have not filed Form TDF 90-22.1 during any year between 2003-2008 in which you had signing authority or ownership of an account with a balance in excess of $10,000 at any time during that year now is the time to file the form. There are certain exceptions to who must file but you had better understand them well. Also, note that the IRS is charged with enforcing this Treasury Department filing, and the normal 3 year statute of limitations is expanded to 6 years.



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