FinCEN Wants US Citizens to Disclose Offshore Crypto Holdings of $10K+

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The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. Treasury Department wing tasked with monitoring potential legal violations of domestic financial laws, wants Americans to report if they have more than $10,000 in cryptocurrencies with foreign financial or virtual asset service providers.

FinCEN announced its intention to amend the Bank Secrecy Act’s Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) regulations in a rulemaking notice published on New Year’s Eve, just three weeks before the Treasury Department’s leadership is expected to change.

According to a brief notice published Thursday, “FinCEN intends to propose to amend the regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) regarding reports of foreign financial accounts (FBAR) to include virtual currency as a type of reportable account.” 

It did not provide a timeline for when this new proposal might be published or implemented.

The rule change would appear to bring FBAR rules around crypto holdings in line with cash held outside the U.S. by citizens or other U.S. persons. It could have the most visible impact on users of crypto exchanges like Bitstamp and Bitfinex.

At present, FBARs must be filed by individuals who have an aggregate of over $10,000 in foreign financial accounts, including currencies. Current regulations do not designate virtual currencies as an FBAR-reportable account, however. This amendment would end that exemption. 

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, FBARs must include the name on the account, account number, name and address of the foreign bank, type of account and the maximum value held during the year. 

Individuals who fail to file face various penalties, including fines, according to the website. 

What’s unclear is what additional information crypto holders might have to file, such as blockchain addresses. 

Thursday’s notice comes just days before the public comment period for another FinCEN initiative – one that would require exchanges to store customer information when transferring more than $3,000 in cryptocurrencies to unhosted wallets and file Currency Transaction Reports for transactions aggregating more than $10,000 in crypto per day – comes to a close. 

The public notice, published just a week before Christmas, has drawn the ire of the crypto community both for its potential impact on various crypto projects and having a shorter-than-usual comment period over U.S. federal holidays. 

If both these proposed rules are implemented, U.S. persons might have to report crypto holdings and transactions in excess of $10,000 regardless of where they’re held.

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