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US taxpayers with foreign bank accounts go through an annual reporting ritual called Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR).
Any United States person with at least one foreign bank account, and cumulative value of all foreign bank accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the year, are required to file a FBAR.
Headaches for Expats
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 (FACTA) upped the bank account reporting requirements, becoming especially onerous for foreign banks to have US person account holders. Some foreign banks responded by terminating affected accounts and refusing to do business with US persons. You see periodic WSJ articles on US expats renouncing citizenship (and here and here) so they can have functional lives in some European countries that are going cashless.
My foreign bank accounts are in China where they are more adept at, or more courageous in, giving other country regulators the shove off.
My accounts from when I worked in China and no longer have $10,000. I figure it is better to keep reporting at the diminished amounts than stop and invite questions.
The BSA E-Filing system has been an example of government bureaucracy fail. Paper submissions were phasing out while even in 2015 the online system only reliably worked with Internet Explorer and Adobe Acrobat. You had to go through a delicate dance using the right versions of both, used in the right sequence, and with the right security settings (disabled) in the hope everything would work. Oh, and to get a BSA E-Filing PIN along the way.
This year the traditional June 15 filing deadline has been moved up to tax filing day (April 18) with an automatic extension to October 15. Automatic extension sounds weird though is tied to similar extensions for those living overseas from back in the time when communications were much slower.
This announcement was December 16, 2016 (under Obama), along with an improved BSA E-Filing System.
New BSA E-Filing
The new BSA E-Filing process is fast and easy. Shocker!
Now an individual filing FBAR no longer needs to register a BSA E-Filing account. There is a quick no registration PDF or online FBAR form option that can be done and submitted in a few minutes. Works in modern browsers!
My first time with the new process I was done in under 5 minutes. Under the old, I would have still been updating the passwords that constantly expire. I got a crisp download form and immediate email confirmation.