Do Banks Report Check Deposits to the IRS?

Staff Writer
January 29, 2019

  • Financial institutions have to report large deposits and suspicious transactions to the IRS.
  • Your bank will usually inform you in advance of submitting Form 8300 or filing a report with the IRS.
  • The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act helps prevent money laundering and tax evasion.

 

When you’re filing your tax return, you want to make sure it’s as complete and accurate as possible to avoid Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits and penalties. If what you report on your tax return doesn’t match your bank’s records, however, you might be concerned about raising red flags or triggering an audit. Find out when and why banks report deposits to the IRS and learn what types of transactions could put you at risk.

When Do Banks Report Transactions to the IRS?

While it’s easy to assume that the IRS tracks your every financial move, that doesn’t hold true for most people. Your bank is required to tell you if your transactions require a special IRS form, which means you would typically know if the agency had this high level of access to your financial transactions.

Do Banks Report Check Deposits to the IRS?

In most cases, the IRS doesn’t monitor check deposits or bank transactions unless it has a distinct reason to do so. The IRS considers the following situations worthy of monitoring:

  • Cash or Check Deposits of $10,000 or More: It doesn’t matter if you’re depositing cash or cashing a check. If you make a deposit of $10,000 or more in a single transaction, your bank must report the transaction to the IRS. Your bank also has to report the transaction if you make two deposits of $10,000 or more within 24 hours of each other.
  • Multiple Payments of $10,000 or More: The $10,000 threshold doesn’t apply only to cash and check deposits that you make in person. If another party deposits in your account or transfers you more than one payment of $10,000 or more within 12 months, your bank must also report the transactions to the IRS.
  • Suspicious Activities: Even if your deposits don’t exceed the $10,000 threshold, your bank could still consider them worthy of reporting. The IRS requests financial institutions to watch for suspicious activity, which could mean large transactions or series of similar deposits over time. If your bank flags you for this type of activity, you might not know that you’re considered suspicious.
  • IRS Audits: If the IRS audits your tax return, your bank must provide any requested reports regarding your accounts. In this case, your bank will have to report on transactions of all sizes to the IRS.
  • Other Circumstances: Technically, the IRS can request transaction data for any bank account at any time. However, random requests are very rare.

What You Should Know About the Bank Secrecy Act

Also known as the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, the Bank Secrecy Act spells out how and when financial institutions must provide transaction data to the IRS. This act dates back to 1970, when it was originally designed to identify individual and business taxpayers engaged in money laundering and tax evasion.

When the Patriot Act was passed in 2002, a portion of this legislation reinforced the original Bank Secrecy Act. The International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 first introduced IRS Form 8300, which banks use to document large or suspicious transactions.

How IRS Form 8300 Works

Today, federal law still requires financial institutions to report large or suspicious transactions via Form 8300. Banks use this same form for both individual and business taxpayers. It requires the financial institution to provide its own contact information along with the personal details of the account holder in question. In the event that you’ve made a large deposit into a joint account, your bank will have to inform the IRS of all account holders’ identities. Similarly, large or suspicious deposits from multiple parties will require your bank to report all identifying information.

When submitting Form 8300, banks must also record the amount of the related deposits. Finally, they have to confirm whether they came in the form of personal or business checks, cash, money orders, cashier’s checks, or bank drafts.

In most cases, financial institutions don’t have unlimited time to file this form. Typically, banks have to submit Form 8300 within 15 days of the transaction in question in order to keep the IRS apprised of potentially suspicious financial activity. Banks and credit unions that fail to meet the deadline typically have to pay a fine, which gives financial institutions an incentive to act quickly.

Form 8300 isn’t exclusive to financial institutions and the IRS. When your financial institution uses this form to report large deposits and other suspicious transactions, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also receives a copy of the documentation.

Can the IRS Seize Your Bank Deposits?

In some cases, your bank or credit union may flag several of your deposits as excessively large, or they may flag multiple transactions as suspicious. If the IRS determines that your financial activity relates to an attempt to avoid taxes, the agency can pursue a process known as civil forfeiture. When this happens, the IRS can seize your financial assets, including the funds in your bank account.

Even if you obtained the money legally and you aren’t doing anything wrong, the IRS could still accuse you of breaking the law. For example, if you’ve tried to avoid making deposits over $10,000 to prevent red flags, the IRS could accuse you of deliberately spacing out your payments, an illegal process known as structuring.

If you find that your transactions have been flagged as suspicious or if the IRS seizes your assets, it’s in your best interest to get professional assistance right away. A tax attorney can advise you about your taxpayer rights and help you build a case to defend yourself if necessary.

Dealing with debt or substantial penalties after an IRS audit? We’re here to help so you don’t have to go it alone. Contact Solvable to get relief for tax debt of $100,000 or more today.