Under the federal Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) financial institutions must report each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency or other payment or transfer which involves a transaction in currency of more than $10,000. The common belief, advanced by bank tellers and other misinformed well-meaning individuals is that multiple currency transactions, all less than $10,000 each, will avoid the financial institution from moving to report the currency transaction.
Wrong, seriously wrong! A taxpayer may not arrange or “structure” his deposits by keeping a series of deposits under the $10,000 threshold, in order to avoid the BSA reporting requirements. A fine of not more than $250,000 or imprisonment for more than five (5) years, or both, may be imposed on a person who willfully violates this anti-structuring provision of the BSA. The Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS and the United States Attorney’s office aggressively investigate “structuring” situations, even where the currency may have been previously reported and taxed. Further, the accounts could be subject to the governments’ civil asset seizure and forfeiture program, even without the owner being convicted of a crime, or for that matter even charged with a crime. Now the taxpayer, at great expense, will have to fight the government for the return of the funds improperly seized.