Which Bahamas Accounts are Reported for FBAR (FinCEN 114)

Which Bahamas Accounts are Reported for FBAR (FinCEN 114)

FBAR Reporting of Bahamas Accounts, MPF & Investments

Over the past few years, the Internal Revenue Service has significantly increased enforcement of foreign accounts compliance to ensure US Persons with overseas accounts, assets, investments, and income properly report to the IRS. We represent many taxpayers each year who have either relocated to the Bahamas or previously resided in the Bahamas and now reside in the US — and have a significant amount of unreported assets — such as bank accounts, investment accounts, pension accounts, mutual funds, life insurance policies and more. With the recent surge in the number of cases involving FBAR penalties (both willful and non-willful), it is important that US persons residing in either Bahamas or the United States who have assets in the Bahamas properly disclose their financial accounts to the Internal Revenue Service on the FBAR and other international information reporting forms. Let’s go through some of the basics of reporting Bahamasan bank accounts and other investments on FBAR (FinCEN Form 114).

US Person Definition

US Persons includes more than just individuals — it also includes entities — but the focus of this article is for individuals.

US persons with accounts in the Bahamas who may have to file FBAR, including:

FBAR Reporting Basics

When a US Person has accounts in the Bahamas, they have to report the accounts, when the annual aggregate total of all accounts combined exceeds more than $10,000. The due date is April 15 but is on automatic extension until October (this rule is subject to change).

Largest Banks in the Bahamas

There are many different banks and other Foreign Financial Institutions located in the Bahamas. Here are some of the more common institutions.

      • First Caribbean

      • Royal Bank of Canada

      • Scotia Bank

Expats Still Report FBAR

When a US person resides in the Bahamas — and even if they are considered a permanent resident of Bahamas — but they have not formally expatriated from the United States — they are still considered a US person and must still report the annual FBAR. If a taxpayer qualifies as a foreign resident under the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (aka Expat Amnesty) they may qualify for a full penalty waiver.

Bahamas Foreign Bank Accounts & FBAR

Even though the United States and the Bahamas have not entered into a bilateral tax treaty, many foreign institutions in the Bahamas including Itau, Banco de Bahamas, and Scotiabank Bahamas report account holder information to the US government by way of the FATCA Agreement that was entered into between both countries. It should be noted that even if a Bahamasan bank account does not generate any income — or that income is exempt from tax in the Bahamas — it is still taxable in the United States and reported on the 1040 tax return.

Bahamas Mutual Funds and FBAR

It is very common for investors in the Bahamas to have different types of investment funds, such as mutual funds, ETFs, and SICAVs. Even if the funds are not technically in an account, mutual funds are reportable on the FBAR, Form 8938, and Form 8621.

Term Deposits, Fixed Deposits, and CDs

Most all types of bank accounts are reportable on the FBAR. This includes ancillary types of accounts at Banks such as term deposit accounts, fixed deposit accounts, and CDs. In addition, the interest generated on these accounts is generally taxable in the US.

Stock Investment Accounts in the Bahamas

There are various different types of stock investment accounts in the Bahamas. And, even though certain Taxpayers with residence or citizenship in the Bahamas may receive tax-related benefits under foreign tax laws — whether or not there taxable — they are still reportable on the FBAR.

In addition, unless the PFIC rules apply — accrued but non-distributed income in a Stock Investment Accounts is taxable.

The Bahamas & Mutual Funds, ETF, SICAVs

When a US Person Taxpayer has foreign investment accounts in Bahamassuch as Mutual Funds, ETFs, and SICAVs — they may have an FBAR reporting requirement when the threshold is met. The value of the investment accounts is aggregated with the value of the other accounts to determine the annual threshold value for reporting is met.

With investment funds, there is the additional issue of potential PFIC reporting on Form 8621.

Bahamas Insurance Policies and FBAR Reporting

In countries such as the Bahamas, life insurance policies — which serve primarily as investment wrappers — are a common type of investment scheme More often than not, these types of life insurance policies do not qualify as traditional life insurance under the US tax code, and therefore income accumulates within the policy may be taxable. From a reporting standpoint, foreign life insurance policies with a cash value or surrender value are generally reported on the FBAR, Form 8938, Form 720, and possibly Form 8621.

FBAR Amnesty Program Summary

The FBAR Amnesty Programs are programs developed by the Internal Revenue Service to assist Taxpayers who are already out of compliance for non-reporting.

Some of the more common programs include:

Can I Just Start Filing FBAR This Year Instead?

No, unless the current year is the first year you had an FBAR Reporting requirement. If you had a prior year reporting requirement, but only begin to start filing in the current year (Filing Forward) it is illegal. In the world of offshore disclosure, this is referred to as an FBAR Quiet Disclosure. The IRS has warned taxpayers that if they get caught in an FBAR Quiet Disclosure situation, it may lead to willful penalties and even a criminal investigation by the IRS Special Agents.

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Contact our firm today for assistance.