As of: 1/12/21 11:04 AM
Received: January 07, 2021
Status: Non_Public
Tracking No. kjn-c8sh-9ngb
Comments Due: January 15, 2021
Submission Type: Web

Docket: FINCEN-2020-0013
Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Renewal; Comment Request; Renewal Without Change of Reports of Foreign Financial Accounts Regulations and FinCEN Report 114, Report of Foreign Bank And Financial Accounts

Comment On: FINCEN-2020-0013-0001
Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Renewal Without Change of Reports of Foreign Financial Accounts Regulations and FinCEN Report 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

Document: FINCEN-2020-0013-DRAFT-0004
Comment on FR Doc # 2020-25216

Submitter Information

Name: Susan Williams

Swansea,  West Glamorgan,  United Kingdom,  SA4 8DR

Phone: 07714875874

General Comment

Hello, I am writing in response to the Proposal to renew without Change, of Reports of Foreign Financial Accounts, commonly known to us expats as the FBAR form. I cannot tell you what a hassle this is for an ordinary person, particularly when overlaid with the need to file tax returns to two countries, with differing rules and tax-year dates.

First, a little background. I am American born and bred, but in 1981 I married a Brit and moved to the UK where i have remained ever since. I am 67 and retired. I worked as a social worker (max salary $60,000) and my husband was a vicar (minister)- his max salary was $30000. We don't have a lot of money but have managed to make a few investments here in the UK (as I am barred from making any investments in the USA). We have a few banks accounts here in the town where we live in the UK.

I gather that the intent of FBAR filing has to do with trying to prevent overseas money laundering; however, an awful lot of people like me have been caught up in this and are required to report the bank accounts held in the country where we live, and investments held in the country where we live. My understanding is that money laundering is most likely to be carried out by doing a lot of financial activites OUTSIDE of the country in which you live, so it really does not make any sense to me why the US Treasury would be interested in bank accounts and investments held in my home town. On this basis, other members of my family, WHO RESIDE IN THE UNITED STATES, should also have to report to the Treasury all the bank accounts and investments that they hold inside the United States. If you truly think that I am engaged in money laundering by having accounts in the town where I live, then it follows that Americans living inside the United States would also be suspected of engaging in money laundering by having accounts in the United States- so on that basis, wouldn't you be interested in those accounts as well??

Completing the FBAR is not straightforward. Firstly, I am not terribly tech savvy, and it is only possible to do this electronically. ( Ironically, it is impossible for me to complete my US tax return electronically). Secondly, the information required is not straightforward to obtain. I have to comb through all of the statements for each account to determine the highest value of the account. This will not necessarily be the highest amount held in my currency (GBP) because the $ exchange rate will also influence this. Also, my investments do not readily show variable amounts over time, merely periodic amounts correlating with the UK tax year (which starts 5 april). It takes a considerable amount of time.

And finally, having to complete the FBAR curtails employment opportunities and voluntary work for American citizens overseas. I know of people cannot accept certain jobs because this would cause the bank accounts of British companies liable to be reporting to the US Treasury. And I have personally been unable to accept the role of Treasurer for a number of community organisations because it does not seem right for these charitable organisations to have their banking details reported to the US Treasury. For many years the United States viewed its citizens living abroad as goodwill ambassadors for the country, but that is changing and these kinds of rules do nothing to prevent the deterioration of this soft diplomacy. I am also worried about the risk of my data being hacked by others; it seems quite risky sending all my account numbers, as well as my social security number in full, over the internet.

I complete the FBAR myself because i cannot afford professional help. Just in case you don't know, it is extremely costly to get tax assistance as an expat: the cheapest quote for an FBAR return is around $400, and my monthly income is around $1800, so this is not an option for me.

So, in conclusion I feel that there are only two feasible options for continuing or changing the return:
1. Abolish the need to report bank accounts, investments, etc which are located in the country in which you live OR.
2. Require ALL American citizens including those residing in the USA to report all of their their bank accounts, investments, etc, INCLUDING THOSE BASED IN THE UNITED STATES.

Sorry for the rambling; thanks for listening. I am just an ordinary person doing the best i can in a complicated situation.
Susan Williams
Swansea, Wales, UK