I became a permanent resident of the United States in mid-June of this year (2012). Before that I was on an F1 student visa. I was a non-resident for tax purposes throughout 2011.

I have an account in my home country of over $10,000. The deadline of for filing the FBAR (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) is June 30th, and it holds for the previous year. (So had I filed the FBAR on June 30th of 2012, it would have been for 2011.) I hadn't filed the FBAR on June 30th of 2012 because I wasn't a "U.S. Person" in 2011. Was I correct for not filing it? I have recently taken a look at the penalties, and they are very scary.

Please answer only if you are certain of your answer.

  • technically a person with an american parent and a foreign parent living, born and living in that foreign land is a US person subject to all reporting requirements and tax collection. But they are not bothered. I've heard of canadians getting harassed by US authorities about filing - sometimes mistakenly - but generally the IRS/Treasury isn't going out of their way to deal with these edge cases. This is all to say that I wouldn't worry about last year, Just start filing it from now on and/or close the account and/or lower the balance in that account
    – CQM
    Dec 2 '12 at 20:06
  • I don't have any family members that are American except for my husband. I've been reading on the internet that failure to report may cost me my green card, so I'm very apprehensive...
    – Kathy
    Dec 2 '12 at 20:07

If you were a resident for tax purposes before getting the green card (being on H1 or L1, for example, makes you "US Person" for tax purposes) - you should have been reporting then too.

Definition of "US Person" for the purposes of FBAR comes from 26 USC § 7701 (i.e.: the definitions' section of the US tax code).

I'd say file it if in doubt. The penalties are indeed very steep.

  • I was on an F1 Visa. Does that still hold?
    – Kathy
    Dec 2 '12 at 20:01
  • Depends on your status for tax. What tax form have you submitted for 2011? Was it 1040? or 1040NR?
    – littleadv
    Dec 2 '12 at 20:02
  • I'm pretty sure 1040NR.
    – Kathy
    Dec 2 '12 at 20:03
  • I was a non-resident for tax purposes throughout 2011, that much is definitely true.
    – Kathy
    Dec 2 '12 at 20:04
  • Second the file if unsure bit--it's not a hard form to file. Feb 8 '16 at 23:41

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