IRS FBAR Penalty

written by Claudia Grant
reviewed by David J. Allen
September 27, 2023

Navigating the Waters of the IRS FBAR Penalty

Navigating tax obligations can be daunting, especially when it comes to international financial matters. Among the most significant international tax responsibilities for US citizens and residents is the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report (FBAR). Missing this obligation can lead to the formidable IRS FBAR penalty, which, if ignored, can have devastating financial implications. Let’s explore the urgency of addressing the FBAR penalty and why engaging a tax professional is not just advisable but essential.

Understanding FBAR

Before diving into the penalties, it’s essential to understand what FBAR is. The FBAR refers to FinCEN Form 114, which must be filed by US persons with an interest in or authority over foreign financial accounts when the aggregate value exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. It’s part of the US government’s initiative to combat tax evasion by those hiding assets in offshore accounts.

The Implications of Not Filing FBAR

Failing to file the FBAR can result in severe penalties, both civil and criminal:

Civil Penalties:

  • Non-willful violations can incur a penalty up to $10,000 for each violation.
  • Willful violations can result in a penalty of $100,000 or 50% of the account’s balance at the time of the violation, whichever is higher.

Criminal Penalties: Criminal charges could lead to:

  • Fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years.
  • If the FBAR violation occurs alongside certain other violations, the penalties rise to $500,000 in fines and up to 10 years of imprisonment.

What Are The Penalties?

The FBAR range for violations of foreign account reporting compliance is as follows:

  • warning letter in lieu of penalty;
  • a $10,000 penalty that encompasses all the violations for all years;
  • a $10,000 per year; or
  • a $10,000 penalty per violation per year.*

*The $10,000 penalty per violation per year caps at 50% value of the account values (see IRM).

The Urgency of Addressing the FBAR Penalty

Here’s why it’s crucial to promptly deal with an FBAR penalty:

  • Accumulation of Penalties: If you neglect your FBAR obligations for several years, the severe tax penalties can quickly accumulate, leading to potentially devastating financial consequences.
  • Legal Repercussions: Beyond financial penalties, willful non-compliance can lead to criminal charges, which carry the possibility of imprisonment.
  • Protecting Assets: If you have significant assets in foreign accounts, the percentage-based penalty for willful non-compliance can severely erode your financial wealth.

Engaging a Tax Professional: Why It’s Vital

  • Given the complexities and severe consequences associated with FBAR, seeking professional assistance is imperative:
  • Expertise on International Tax Laws: Tax professionals specializing in international tax matters will have up-to-date knowledge on FBAR regulations, ensuring you remain compliant.
  • Representation: If you face penalties, a tax professional can represent you before the IRS, helping to negotiate potential reductions or other favorable terms.
  • Streamlined Procedures: The IRS offers certain amnesty programs like the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures for those who’ve failed to report foreign assets. A tax professional can guide you on eligibility and the process.
  • Future Compliance: Beyond addressing current penalties, a tax professional can assist in future tax planning, ensuring you stay compliant and avoid further complications.

IRS FBAR Penalty

The FBAR is a critical obligation for US persons with interests in foreign financial accounts. While it may seem like a mere formality, the penalties for non-compliance clearly illustrate the urgency of this responsibility. If you find yourself in the throes of FBAR complications, take swift action. Engage a tax professional with expertise in international tax matters to navigate the turbulent waters of FBAR penalties and ensure you safeguard your assets and your peace of mind.


Navigating international tax obligations can be intricate. While online resources offer guidance, the tailored advice and assistance of a tax professional are invaluable in such complex matters. Always prioritize professional consultation to protect your interests and ensure compliance. For assistance call today: (877) 469-1651

Claudia Grant

Claudia Grant is a seasoned financial expert with a rich and diverse background. Holding a Master of Science in Taxation, Claudia's 15 years as a CPA and ten years as a financial manager have shaped her into a true industry authority. Departing from the traditional office setting, Claudia now thrives as a tax and financial consultant, catering to a wide array of companies. Her passion for sharing knowledge shines through her insightful articles, where she breaks down complex financial concepts into simple pieces. Claudia's expertise and dedication make her an invaluable resource for businesses seeking adept financial guidance in an ever-evolving landscape.
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