FATCA Letter – US Citizens with Foreign Accounts | IRS FATCA Letter
- 1 FATCA Letter
- 2 What is a FATCA Letter
- 3 FATCA Letter Examples
- 4 Has Your FFI Already Reported You?
- 5 We Specialize in IRS Voluntary Disclosure
- 6 If You Received a FATCA Letter, You Need a FATCA Attorney
- 7 Golding & Golding are Highly-Experienced FATCA Lawyers
- 8 Hiring an FATCA Lawyer – 5 Types of Attorneys to Avoid
- 9 4 Types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs
FATCA Letter – US Citizens with Foreign Accounts | IRS FATCA Letter
FATCA Letter: Foreign Banks are sending FATCA Letter reminders to U.S. Account Holders worldwide. We explain the IRS risks, with samples, examples, and tips.
When a Foreign Bank sends you a FATCA Letter (usually with a W-8 BEN or W-9) they are checking on your U.S. Status as a Citizen or Resident.
In other words, a Letter from your bank regarding the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) means the bank wants to know about your U.S. Status.
Common Questions we received about FATCA Letters:
What is a FATCA Letter?
A FATCA Letter is a letter or correspondence from you Foreign Bank or Financial Institution inquiring about your U.S. Status, to determine if you are a U.S. Account Holder.
What is FATCA?
FATCA is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. It has been agreed to by more than 110 countries and more than 300,000 FFI (Foreign Financial Institutions) have agreed to report. The purpose of FATCA is for the U.S. Government to obtain the names of U.S. persons with Foreign Asset/
Why Did the Bank Send me a Letter?
Because the Foreign Bank or Financial Institution inquiring about your U.S. Status, to determine if you are a U.S. Account Holder.
Does FATCA Report Closed Accounts?
Generally, the Banks will report closed accounts under FATCA for at least a few years, if it is part of the exchange of information.
How Does the IRS Find Foreign Bank Accounts?
The IRS has many different methods for finding foreign bank accounts, such as: FATCA, FBAR Reporting, J5, Whistleblowers, Deferred Prosecution Agreements and several international enforcement groups that are tasked with finding the information.
Can IRS Find Foreign Bank Accounts?
Yes, Offshore compliance enforcement is at an all-time high, and unfortunately, the penalties can be very stiff.
What is a FATCA Letter
A FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) Letter is a letter from your foreign bank or foreign financial institution inquiring about your U.S. Status.
Many Clients first contact us after receiving an initial FATCA letter from one of their Foreign Financial Institutions (or multiple letters from multiple institutions).
Sometimes, the letters will also make reference to CRS, which is the Common Reporting Standard, which is the the non-US version of FATCA.
In fact, some countries are reporting under both FATCA, and CRS by way of AEOI (Automatic Exchange ofInformation)
FATCA Letters have Gotten Tougher
Over the last three to four years, FATCA has really picked up steam.
Recent attempts to repeal FATCA have been denied — and in late 2018 the US government chalked up its first criminal conviction using FATCA.
Many Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs) are Reporting to the U.S.
More than 110 foreign countries have entered into FATCA Agreements, and more then 300,000 Foreign Financial Institutions (FFI) have agreed to report U.S. Account Holder information to the US government.
FATCA Letter Examples
FATCA Emails and Letters
First, Foreign Financial Institutions are not just sending letters, they are sending emails and they are sending them in mass (so be sure to check your junk or spam box).
Less Ambiguity in FATCA Letter Content
Second, the letters are less ambiguous than they were back in 2014 or 2015. The updated letters will ask the individual account holder to actively respond to information — and even sign documents under penalty of perjury. This is to ensure that there is no confusion as to who is a U.S. Person vs. U.S. Citizen.
Stricter FATCA Deadlines
Third, many of these new FATCA letters have very strict response deadlines. In years past, it was relatively simple for the client to contact the bank or other Foreign Financial Institution and simply ask for an extension. These days, oftentimes the bank may not even respond to the request.
Additional Support Documents
Fourth, some of these Foreign Financial Institutions are asking for more than just the FATCA Letter signed and returned to them. The institutions are also seeking copies of additional documents and/or affirmations (under penalty of perjury) that the individual account holder has both filed the necessary tax returns with the IRS, and filed on necessary FBAR and other informational returns.
Bank Accounts Frozen, Forfeited and Reported
Fifth, if you do not respond to the letter, many institutions will simply close your account and freeze your money – and they will not provide you any access to the money until you can prove compliance. In addition, if you do not respond these institutions they will report you to the IRS anyway.
Has Your FFI Already Reported You?
Another tactic that many of these institutions are following is that they are not telling the account holder that they have reported the information to the US government. Therefore, since the US government may already have your information, it can severely limit your ability you file for IRS amnesty.
Even if you are not under civil audit or a criminal investigation, if the IRS already has your information – even if they haven’t acted on it –they can still reject you from the amnesty program.
Therefore, if you believe your bank may have reported you, or is about to report you to the US government — you should consider getting into compliance sooner as opposed to later.
We Specialize in IRS Voluntary Disclosure
Unlike other areas of International Tax, you need a law firm that practices exclusively in the area of IRS Offshore Disclosure, and your attorney should be a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist.
We’re here to help you.
If You Received a FATCA Letter, You Need a FATCA Attorney
Each person’s facts and circumstances are different. And, depending on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the failure of timely filing the FBAR a person may find himself or herself subject to extremely high monetary fines and penalties, including a penalty that reaches a 100% value of the unreported foreign accounts and assets (in a multi-year audit in which a person is found willful) and/or by themselves subject to a criminal investigation for tax fraud or tax evasion.
Common FATCA issues we handle, include:
- FATCA Penalties
- FATCA and Real Estate
- FATCA and Pensions
- FATCA and Life Insurance
- FATCA and Mutual Funds
- FATCA vs. 8938
- FATCA and Estates
- FATCA Audit Trigger
- FATCAWillful Blindness
- FATCA Criminal Investigations
Golding & Golding are Highly-Experienced FATCA Lawyers
Our FBAR Lawyers specialize exclusively in defending against FBAR penalties. Each FBAR case is led and managed by a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist Attorney who specializes exclusively in FBAR Account Penalty Mitigation and Defense.
Hiring an FATCA Lawyer – 5 Types of Attorneys to Avoid
- Tax Lawyers who risk your confidentiality with a “Kovel Letter“
- The “No Tax Preparation included” bloated flat-fee retainer
- Hiring Attorneys who are not dually-licensed in Tax and Law, and do not handle the tax portion of your submission
- Hiring an Attorney who is not a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist
- Hiring an Attorney with less than 15-20 years private practice experience, and no Trial or Litigation Experience
4 Types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs
There are typically four types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure programs, and they include:
- Traditional (IRM) IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program
- Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP)
- Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP)
- Reasonable Cause (RC)
Contact Us Today; Let us Help You.
Sean holds a Master's in Tax Law from one of the top Tax LL.M. programs in the country at the University of Denver, and has also earned the prestigious Enrolled Agent credential. Mr. Golding is also a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist Attorney (A designation earned by Less than 1% of Attorneys nationwide.)