How to File an FBAR for Your Spouse: A Step-by-Step Guide

Essential Guide to Filing FBAR for Your Spouse

When living abroad or having foreign financial interests, U.S. taxpayers are required to report their foreign bank and financial accounts to the Treasury Department. This process, known as filing the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report (FBAR), becomes more complex when considering the obligations for your spouse. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essentials of filing an FBAR for your spouse, ensuring you comply with U.S. regulations while minimizing stress and confusion.

What is FBAR?

FBAR, formally known as FinCEN Form 114, is a report filed electronically with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It is required for U.S. persons who have financial interests in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts exceeding $10,000 at any point during the calendar year.

Why File an FBAR for Your Spouse?

Filing an FBAR for your spouse is crucial if they have foreign accounts that meet the reporting threshold. Whether you file jointly or separately, understanding your obligations can prevent potential penalties and ensure both of you remain compliant with U.S. tax laws.

Who Needs to File an FBAR?

  • U.S. citizens
  • Green card holders
  • Residents following substantial presence test
  • Entities such as corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies formed under U.S. laws

When to File an FBAR

The deadline for filing an FBAR is April 15, with an automatic extension to October 15. No specific request is required for this extension.

How to File an FBAR for Your Spouse: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Determine If You Need to File

Review both your and your spouse's foreign account balances. If the total exceeds $10,000 at any time, you must file an FBAR.

Step 2: Collect Required Information

Gather details of all foreign financial accounts, including:

  • Bank name and address
  • Account number
  • Highest balance in the year

Step 3: Decide on Filing Status

Determine if you will file jointly or separately. Joint filing is an option if you have financial interest in or signature authority over the accounts.

Step 4: File Electronically

File the FBAR electronically through FinCEN's BSA E-Filing System. You can either do it yourself or have a tax professional file on your behalf.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failing to report joint accounts
  • Underreporting account balances
  • Missing the deadline

Legal Implications and Penalties for Non-compliance

Failing to file an FBAR can result in severe penalties, including fines up to $10,000 for non-willful violations and greater for willful violations. In extreme cases, criminal charges could apply.

File Your FBAR Now


Can I file an FBAR for my spouse if I manage our finances?

Yes, you can file on behalf of your spouse if you have signature authority over their foreign accounts.

What if we missed the FBAR deadline?

If you missed the deadline, file as soon as possible and consider consulting a tax professional for advice on mitigating penalties.

File Your FBAR Now

Filing an FBAR for your spouse is an important aspect of managing your financial obligations as U.S. taxpayers abroad or with foreign financial interests. By understanding the requirements, collecting necessary information, and adhering to deadlines, you can ensure compliance and avoid penalties. If in doubt, consult with a tax professional specialized in foreign account reporting.