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U.S. Business Leaders Request FBAR Relief for Employees of SEC-Reporting Worldwide American Companies
Date: 11/28/2011
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491

Washington DC – Seven leading U.S. business community associations today released a letter sent to the U.S. Treasury Department earlier this month, requesting that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) adopt less burdensome rules for Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) filings required by employees of worldwide American companies involved in global finance, which report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In a letter to FinCEN Director James H. Freis, Jr., the associations – the National Foreign Trade Council, Financial Executives International Committee on Taxation, United States Council for International Business, Software Finance and Tax Executives Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, TechAmerica and Information Technology Industry Council – wrote:

"Multinational companies are increasingly frustrated by changing rules that unnecessarily expand the FBAR filing requirements for their employees, create traps for innocent violations and potentially impose costly penalties.

"…The current rules are burdensome and complex and create the potential for inadvertent errors by corporate finance employees. Indeed, the latest FBAR rules arguably are more burdensome than the prior guidance – with no apparent justification. Because this issue affects most multinational companies, it likely impacts thousands of corporate employees in the US and abroad and potentially requires hundreds of thousands of unnecessary FBAR filings.

"There is no valid reason why individual employees should have to file FBAR for accounts over which they only have signature authority where the US parent files a report for all of the company's foreign financial accounts, whether held in the names of domestic or foreign entities. Companies do not want to subject their employees to tax penalties for inadvertent failures to follow the confusing FBAR rules.

"…We respectfully submit that FinCEN has access to all of the information it needs concerning the foreign accounts of SEC-reporting entities – from the consolidated FBARs filed by these entities and any specific requests FinCEN staff may wish to make of them. There is no need to burden thousands of individual employees with obligations to make duplicative filings for accounts maintained for the sole benefit of their employers."

The primary objective of FBAR filings is to help the government detect money laundering or other criminal activity through the use of foreign financial accounts. The associations emphasized in the letter that their members do not pose a meaningful risk of such activities, and their employees should not be exposed to penalties for not making individual filings in any case.

For the full text of the letter, please click here.


About the NFTC
Advancing Global Commerce for Nearly A Century- The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
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