01 June 2015
Each year, American citizens, residents and green-card holders are required to report their interests in foreign financial accounts on the FinCEN Report 114 form—more commonly known as the “FBAR”. This report can be filed online at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network BSA E-Filing System.
(The very name of the website suggests that the government’s default position is that you’ve somehow already committed a crime.)
In the past, filing one’s FBARs required the Adobe Reader plugin to be running inside the browser. So this year, I was pleased to find the FBAR website reporting a second option, in which specifically, “Adobe Reader is NOT Required”:
Upon submitting the data using the “Online Form” option, the FBAR website provided me with a link to download a PDF document that I’m advised to “retain indefinitely” as evidence of my filing. But here’s the kicker—to read the downloaded PDF file, REQUIRES ADOBE READER!
Here’s what you see when opening the PDF in OS X Preview.
And this is what the same PDF looks like when opened in Adobe Reader:
So how do we get a copy of this PDF in a format that can be read by something other than Adobe Reader?
Well, the first thing you might think to try is “Print to PDF”—creating a new “normal” copy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work:
Reading this dialog box, your second idea might be to create a new version through the “File → Save” mechanism. Nope, that doesn’t work either; with that, you’ll just get another PDF that requires Adobe Reader to read.
Turns out, the only option you have for generating a receipt of your submitted FBARs in a form that doesn’t require Adobe Reader is to print out a paper copy from within Adobe Reader, and then scan them back into your computer.
Welcome to 1998!