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If you own a foreign bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, unit trust, or other financial account (including private pension savings in a foreign institution), then you may be required to report the account yearly to the Internal Revenue Service. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, each United States person must file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), if
- The person has financial interest in, signature authority or other authority over one or more accounts in a foreign country, and
- The value of the account exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.
A United States person is not prohibited from owning foreign accounts. The FBAR is required because foreign financial institutions may not be subject to the same reporting requirements as domestic financial institutions. The FBAR is a tool to help the United States government identify persons who may be using foreign financial accounts to circumvent United States law. Investigators use FBARs to help identify or trace funds used for illicit purposes or to identify unreported income maintained or generated abroad.
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