Nowadays, newspapers and tax journals often contain articles about international tax issues, particularly the duty of U.S. persons to file an annual Form TD F 90-22.1 (“FBAR”) to report their interests in foreign financial accounts. As general knowledge of the FBAR increases, the chances of taxpayers avoiding penalties on grounds that they did not act “willfully” decrease. Nevertheless, one recent case fought before both the Tax Court and a federal district court, in United States v. Williams, 09-cv-437 (E.D. Va. 2010), offers support for the notion that where there’s no will, there’s a way to avoid harsh FBAR penalties.
This article examines how Williams might be used to defend other taxpayers and offers insight into the world of modern FBAR enforcement.