Frequently Asked Questions on FBAR E-Filing Using FinCEN's BSA E-Filing System 

    Published January 16, 2014

    As of July 2013, FBARs (Form 114) are required to be e-filed through FinCEN’s BSA E-Filing System.  While FinCEN has an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) posted on their website, to walk individuals and third-party preparers through the mechanics of e-filing, as of January, 2014, some questions remained unanswered.

    Our FBAR E-filing Task Force had the opportunity to speak to FinCEN during a call, and correspond with them through follow-up emails in an effort to obtain answers to questions not previously addressed in FinCEN’s FAQ. The answers below are based upon both our verbal and written interaction with FinCEN.

    Our list of “Questions and Answers” is only meant to complement FinCEN’s FAQs and therefore, should only be used in conjunction with FinCEN’s FAQs.

    NOTE: This information is current as of Wed., Jan. 16, 2014.

    1. Should a CPA firm, law firm, or other entity authorized to e-file FBARs register as an "institution" FinCEN in order to transmit client data through the BSA E-Filing System? 
    2. Will a CPA firm, law firm, or other entity that registers with FinCEN as an institution be subject to the full range of BSA regulations? 
    3. Will the BSA E-Filing System store prior year data in order to roll it forward into a pre-populated form for subsequent year filing?
    4. Should multinational firms, that include different legal entities and different ownership in each country, register each legal entity with FinCEN?
    5. Should a CPA or law firm that will only use a commercial third party software vendor to transmit FBARs through the BSA E-Filing System, register with FinCEN as a filer?
    6. Should multi-office CPA firms or law firms register with FinCEN as single entities with multiple Supervisory Users to manage the e-filing process for a given geographical area?
    7. What is the process for terminating unauthorized e-filing registrations?
    8. What is the process for transferring Supervisory User status to a new individual in the case of termination, retirement, or other change in duties?
    9. Can an attorney, who is not a tax return preparer, but who assists clients with FBAR e-filing apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to be used as an identifying number on the FBAR?
    10. Will a faxed, emailed, or electronically signed copy of Form 114a, Part 1 satisfy filer signature requirements?
    11. Who should sign Form 114a, Part II, "Individual or Entity Authorized to File FBARs," when a firm is registered as an institution and designates a Supervisory User as well as various regular users?
    12. Has FinCEN used the terms "corporation" and "entity" interchangeably related to the determination of whether or not an entity qualifies for consolidated reporting?

     
    1. Should a CPA firm, law firm, or other entity authorized to e-file FBARs register as an "institution" with FinCEN in order to transmit client data through the BSA E-Filing System?

    Yes. A CPA firm, law firm or other entity should register with FinCEN as an institution in order to transmit client data through the BSA E-Filing System. 

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    2. Will a CPA firm, law firm, or other entity that registers with FinCEN as an institution be subject to the full range of BSA regulations?

    No. A CPA firm or law firm is considered a service provider only. According to the FinCEN representatives on the call, registering with FinCEN as an institution is merely a technicality that allows them to communicate with the service provider in case of e-filing errors. It is our understanding that the BSA regulations and rules that financial institutions are subject to are extensive.

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    3. Will the BSA E-Filing System store prior year data in order to roll it forward into a pre-populated form for subsequent year filing?

    No.  The BSA E-Filing System is designed to receive and transmit data to FinCEN.  The system will not retain prior year data.

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    4. 
    Should multinational firms, that include different legal entities and different ownership in each country, register each legal entity with FinCEN?

    It depends. The organization should contact FinCEN’s BSA E-Filing helpdesk at 1-866-346-9478 or BSAEfilinghelp@fincen.gov to discuss the appropriate way to register the firm.

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    5. 
    Should a CPA firm or law firm that will only use a commercial third party software vendor to transmit FBARs through the BSA E-Filing System, register with FinCEN as a filer?

    No, provided the third party software vendor has, itself, registered with FinCEN.  The only entity (firm or software vendor) required to register with the BSA E-Filing System is the one that will be considered to submit the date directly to the e-filing system under the software vendor's platform.  It is important to note that as of the date of this posting, not all commercial third party software vendors have developed the architecture, systems and procedures to alleviate the need for CPA firms or law firms to register with FinCEN.  CPA and law firms should consult with their tax processing software vendors.

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    6. 
    Should multi-office CPA firms or law firms register with FinCEN as single entities with multiple Supervisory Users to manage the e-filing process for a given geographical area?

    It depends. FinCEN has indicated there can be more than one way to handle this situation. One option is that the firm can register as an institution and then designate a single Supervisory User who can then designate general purpose users as assigned authorizers at each location. 

    For further information, contact FinCEN’s BSA E-Filing helpdesk at 1-866-346-9478 or BSAEfilinghelp@fincen.gov.

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    7. What is the process for terminating unauthorized e-filing registrations?

    The termination of unauthorized registrations can only be done by contacting FinCEN’s BSA E-Filing helpdesk at 1-866-346-9478 or BSAEfilinghelp@fincen.gov.

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    8. What is the process for transferring Supervisory User status to a new individual in the case of termination, retirement, or other change in duties?

    Transferring the Supervisory User status to another individual can only be done by contacting FinCEN’s BSA E-Filing helpdesk at 1-866-346-9478 or BSAEfilinghelp@fincen.gov.

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    9. Can an attorney, who is not a tax return preparer, but who assists clients with FBAR e-filing apply for a Preparer Tax Indentification Number (PTIN) to be used as an identifying number on the FBAR?

    Yes. An attorney, even if not a tax return preparer, can file for a PTIN with the IRS in order to eliminate them from having to provide their social security number during the FBAR e-filing process. 

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    10. Will a faxed, emailed, or electronically signed copy of Form 114a, Part 1 satisfy filer signature requirements?

    Yes, FinCEN indicated they will accept these types of signatures. However, it is recommended that hard copies be retained for audit purposes. 

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    11. Who should sign Form 114a, Part II, "Individual or Entity Authorized to File FBARs," when a firm is registered as an institution and designates a Supervisory User as well as various regular users?

    The regular user who is the preparer of Form 114 should sign Form 114a.

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    12. Has FinCEN used the terms "corporation" and "entity" interchangeably related to the determination of whether or not an entity qualifies for consolidated reporting?

    Yes. Wherever the term “corporation” is used, the term “entity” can be substituted.

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