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Understanding SEC Form 114 for Investors

Updated: Feb 7

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires various forms to promote transparency, fair play, and provide investors with critical information necessary for informed decision-making. One such form is SEC Form 114, otherwise known as the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Form 114 is not primarily associated with investment activities but has implications for investors with significant foreign financial accounts or those investing heavily in foreign markets. Understanding this form can help you avoid potential penalties and ensure compliance with the regulatory framework.

What is SEC Form 114?

Form 114, FBAR, must be filed by U.S. persons with a financial interest or signatory authority over foreign financial accounts if the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. It is not filed with the filer's federal income tax return and must be filed directly with the office of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Who Needs to File Form 114?

Form 114 applies to 'U.S. persons,' which, according to the IRS, includes U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, entities such as corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies created or organized in the United States, and trusts or estates formed under the laws of the United States.

Why Form 114 is Important for Investors?

As an investor, if you hold or control a significant amount of assets in foreign financial institutions, you are required to file this form. Ignoring to file Form 114 can result in heavy penalties, both civil and criminal. For instance, let's say you're an investor who's made significant investments in European tech startups, and the aggregate value of your accounts in the respective countries exceeds $10,000 at any point in a calendar year. In this case, you must file Form 114, providing details of the account, including the maximum value during the year.

Filing and Deadline

Form 114 is electronically filed through the BSA E-Filing System website. The deadline for filing Form 114 is April 15 of the year following the calendar year being reported, with an automatic extension to October 15 if the form isn't filed by the initial deadline.

Information Needed to File Form 114

To file Form 114, you'll need specific details about each foreign account you're reporting, such as:

  • Name on the account

  • Account number

  • Name and address of the foreign bank

  • The maximum value of the account during the calendar year

  • The type of account

Penalties for Non-compliance

Non-compliance with Form 114 filing requirements can result in significant penalties. There are two kinds of penalties: for non-willful and willful violations. Non-willful violations can result in a penalty of up to $12,921 per violation (as of 2021). Willful violations may incur a penalty of the greater of $129,210 or 50% of the balance in the account at the time of the violation, per violation. Criminal penalties may also apply.

While Form 114 might not be directly associated with investment activities, understanding its relevance and impact is crucial for investors with significant foreign financial holdings. Failure to comply with the reporting requirements can lead to substantial penalties. Therefore, being aware and ensuring timely and accurate reporting will help maintain your financial health and avoid unnecessary complications. This article is not tax advice. The rules associated with Form 114 can be complex, so it is advisable to consult with a tax advisor or accountant who is familiar with these rules to ensure proper compliance.

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