Tax News & Blog‎ > ‎

FBAR E-File Process...Needs Improvement

posted Jun 26, 2012, 2:05 PM by Kaitlin Krozel

This year, FinCen (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) is offering a FREE electronic filing option for the FBAR. What a great deal right? Normally I prepare the FBAR for my clients, securely send them the PDF, and provide instructions for signing and mailing. Mailing in an FBAR from overseas can be expensive if you use a private delivery service like FedEx/UPS/DHL/etc (Singapore to the US FedEx fee is about $45USD), but I always recommend clients use this option as opposed to regular mail so that they have a record of delivery. So I was pretty excited to hear of this new efile option and present it to my clients. In fact, I even went through the sign up process myself so I could understand how it works. So what's the verdict? Here is some of the negative feedback I received from clients:

"I've been working on submitting my FBAR, but the online process is quite confusing. It's telling me that a a Supervisory User (SU) within my organization MUST assign my system roles? 
I think I’m just going to do it the old fashioned way and get a receipt from the post office."

"I've tried (and tried) to file on the BSA website; I got through several stages of obtaining a user id, then temp password, permanent password, and finally pin. Then I went to "next steps" for filing, and the terminology got too complicated and vague, with user manuals and many steps. I couldn't understand much of the terminology."

"I mailed in the FBAR after a few attempts to enter the information online.  What a hassle."

Now a few of my clients have actually used the efile process and were kind enough to share some of their  feedback. So if you decide to tackle this process, here are some tips and tricks to help efile your FBAR:

-Here is the website to get started:

-You have to upgrade to the latest Adobe Reader (right now it's version X)

-Read all the instructions VERY carefully.

-When you first sign up you will have to wait for FinCEN to review your application and then email you a User ID. With most other online signup systems you receive the email right away, but not with FinCEN. It could take a few days to receive your User ID.

-Again, once you get your User ID, sign in and read the instructions to complete the process VERY carefully.

-Know that even if you have another person prepare your FBAR, you will still need to manually enter everything in the online FBAR form.

-The field for your country will not load on the first page if it's the US, so just leave it blank.

-You can't type the year into any other field than on the first page. If you try nothing happens. Once you type it into the first page, it automatically pre-populates the rest of the year fields on all the other pages.

-Signing the form is taken care of within the efile form - you actually have to use the PIN they give you to "sign" it on the first page of the form, and once you sign there, it automatically populates the "signature" and "date" fields on the other page.

-Once you complete the form and click the "SUBMIT" button on the first page of the form, you may keep getting an error message saying you need to be logged in first. Check in your Adobe Reader menu under Edit > Preferences > Internet > "Display PDF in browser" and make sure that "Display PDF in browser" is checked. If it is left unchecked, it will just keep giving you an option to download it or open it separately in Adobe Reader, but will not open it within the browser window itself. Apparently it needs to specifically be open within a browser tab or window in order for your log-in status to be recognized.

-Once you have filed you will receive an email showing your submission was accepted. SAVE this with your tax records.

-If all else fails and you decide to mail the FBAR, use the following address (per the FBAR instructions) if you use a company like FedEx/DHL/UPS as they will not accept the PO Box address listed on the actual FBAR form:

IRS Enterprise Computing Center

ATTN: CTR Operations Mailroom, 4th Floor

985 Michigan Avenue

Detroit, MI 48226


And if you want to provide some feedback to FinCEN on the process (good or bad), here is an email address to use:

So in conclusion, the efile option is a good start and the Treasury is moving in the right direction, but it seems there is still a lot of work to do to make this process more efficient. Good Luck!