“The “Same Country” Exemption, sometimes referred to as “Safe Harbor” Rule, is the product of collaborative work among several groups representing Americans abroad. A detailed description was prepared by ACA and draws upon ideas and work of the other groups – which ACA greatly acknowledges. ACA is solely responsible for its content. This paper (attached) was drafted by Charles M. Bruce, Legal Counsel, ACA. Questions and comments are invited”
An individual residing in a foreign country could elect, but would not have to elect, to have an account treated as a “Same Country” Account by providing an election to the relevant FFI (such as, the individual’s bank) and attaching a copy to his or her regular Form 1040 or Form 1040NR. The FFI would then be relieved from the requirement to treat the account in question as a US account and to process and report information with respect to it.9
The “same country” exemption would not affect in any way the requirement to file a Form 1040 or 1040NR. Nor would the “same country” exemption affect in any way negate the requirement to file FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
An American taxpayer subject to the Form 8938 filing requirements, who had elected to have one or more accounts treated as a same country account by filing the above-mentioned election, could omit the account(s) from his or her Form 8938. The account would not count for purposes of determining whether or not one of the reporting thresholds, set forth in the Instructions to the Form, are met. IF AN INDIVIDUAL ONLY OWNED ACCOUNTS AS TO WHICH HE OR SHE HAD MADE A “SAME COUNTRY” ELECTION, THERE WOULD BE NO REQUIREMENT TO FILE THE FORM 8938