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Huge 150% Penalty for Willful failure to file FBAR

Imagine having to pay over 2.2 million dollars in penalties for failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). That would be some nighmare.

Well, that is what an 87 year old Carl Zwerner of Florida facing as a result of a jury in federal court returning a verdict that Mr. Zwerner willfully failed to file an FBAR regarding his Swiss bank account.  The jury deliberated for three days before reaching its verdict.

When must an FBAR be filed?

US Taxpayers are required to file FBAR each year on or before June 30 for any account if the aggregate maximum value of the foreign financial account exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

Mr. Zwerner's account had quite a bit more than $10,000 maximum value (between $1.48 and $1.55 million) for each of the years in question. 

What are the Penalties?

The government is seeking to impose a 50% penalty for each year that the FBAR wasn't filed.  The total penalties in the Zwerner case could reach $2.24 million dollars.  That is a huge sum of money for failing to file one form for three years. 

What can be done if I have an undisclosed account overseas?

You need to speak with an experienced criminal tax attorney right away.  The longer one waits to come forward and disclose a foreign bank account with more than $10,000 at any time during a year, the more problems they will face as Mr. Zwerner has discovered.

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