The following is the official information sheet used by the Canadian government to explain the FATCA/FBAR situation, sent to me by Finance Minister James Flaherty.
U.S. Tax and “FBAR” Filing Requirements for U.S. Citizens in Canada
This fact sheet is intended for information purposes only and should not be construed as tax advice. It is not intended or written to be used and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any tax or penalties that may be imposed on such taxpayer by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service of the Canada Revenue Agency. Taxpayers who think they may be affected by any of the measures discussed herein should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor with appropriate experience.
U.S. citizens in Canada have to file U.S. tax returns: The U.S. government requires its citizens living abroad, including in Canada, to file income tax returns and associated tax forms – even if those U.S. citizens do not have to pay any U.S. income tax because they already pay Canadian income tax, and even if they have dual citizenship with Canada. This requirement has been in place since 1913.
They may also have to file another U.S. farm – the FBAR: Under the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, U.S. citizens must file a particular form if they have a total of more than $10,000 in accounts at non-U.S. financial institutions. This form is the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as the “Foreign Bank Account Report”, or “FBAR”. The FBAR filing requirements have been in place since 1972.
Failure to file FBARs can lead to large penalties: The U.S. can levy significant financial penalties for failure to file an FBAR*. There are potential criminal sanctions as well.
For more information (including penalties and consequences of non-compliance), please visit the IRS website: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has information on its website concerning the FBAR. Visit www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=159757,00.html for information on the FBAR.
- For more information regarding U.S. citizenship, please visit http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_782.html
For advice, please contact a tax advisor: Canadians who think they may be affected by the U.S. filing requirements for tax returns or FBARs should contact a tax advisor with experience in U.S. taxation issues.
*Penalties imposed under FBAR will not be collected by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): The Canada-United States Income Tax Convention contains a provision which allows for the collection by a country of taxes imposed by the other country, including civil penalties. This provision does not apply to penalties imposed under laws, such as the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, that impose only a reporting requirement (as opposed to those that impose taxation along with reporting requirements). Also, the CRA does not and will not collect the U.S. tax liability of a Canadian citizen if the individual was a Canadian citizen at the time the liability arose (whether or not the individual was also a U.S. citizen at that time).