IRS Form 8938 – Who is Required to File?

International Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP discuss the Reporting Requirements of IRS Form 8938: Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets:

According to the IRS, certain U.S. taxpayers holding specified foreign financial assets with an aggregate value exceeding $50,000 will report information about those assets on new Form 8938, which must be attached to the taxpayer’s annual income tax return.  Higher asset thresholds apply to U.S. taxpayers who file a joint tax return or who reside abroad (see below).

IRS Form 8938 reporting applies for specified foreign financial assets in which the taxpayer has an interest in taxable years starting after March 18, 2010.

Upon issuance of regulations, FATCA may require reporting by specified domestic entities.  For now, only specified individuals are required to file IRS Form 8938.

  • If you do not have to file an income tax return for the tax year, you do not need to file Form 8938, even if the value of your specified foreign assets is more than the appropriate reporting threshold.
  • If you are required to file Form 8938, you do not have to report financial accounts maintained by:
    • a U.S. payer (such as a U.S. domestic financial institution),
    • the foreign branch of a U.S. financial institution, or
    • the U.S. branch of a foreign financial institution.

Refer to IRS Form 8938 instructions for more information on assets that do not have to be reported.

You must file Form 8938 if:

1. You are a specified individual. 

A specified individual is:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A resident alien of the United States for any part of the tax year (see Pub. 519 for more information)
  • A nonresident alien who makes an election to be treated as resident alien for purposes of filing a joint income tax return
  • A nonresident alien who is a bona fide resident of American Samoa or Puerto Rico (See Pub. 570 for definition of a bona fide resident)

AND

2. You have an interest in specified foreign financial assets required to be reported. 

A specified foreign financial asset is:

  • Any financial account maintained by a foreign financial institution, except as indicated above
  • Other foreign financial assets held for investment that are not in an account maintained by a US or foreign financial institution, namely:
    • Stock or securities issued by someone other than a U.S. person
    • Any interest in a foreign entity, and
    • Any financial instrument or contract that has as an issuer or counterparty that is other than a U.S. person.

Refer to the Form 8938 instructions for more information on the definition of a specified foreign financial assets and when you have an interest in such an asset.

AND

3. The aggregate value of your specified foreign financial assets is more than the reporting thresholds that applies to you:

  • Unmarried taxpayers living in the US: The total value of your specified foreign financial assets is more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year
  • Married taxpayers filing a joint income tax return and living in the US: The total value of your specified foreign financial assets is more than $100,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $150,000 at any time during the tax year
  • Married taxpayers filing separate income tax returns and living in the US: The total value of your specified foreign financial assets is more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year.
  • Taxpayers living abroad.  You are a taxpayer living abroad if:
    • You are a U.S. citizen whose tax home is in a foreign country and you are either a bona fide resident of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes the entire tax year, or
    • You are a US citizen or resident, who during a period of 12 consecutive months ending in the tax year is physically present in a foreign country or countries at least 330 days.

If you are a taxpayer living abroad you must file if:

  • You are filing a return other than a joint return and the total value of your specified foreign assets is more than $200,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $300,000 at any time during the year; or
  • You are filing a joint return and the value of your specified foreign asset is more than $400,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $600,000 at any time during the year.

Refer to the Form 8938 instructions for information on how to determine the total value of your specified foreign financial assets.

Reporting specified foreign financial assets on other forms filed with the IRS.

If you are required to file a Form 8938 and you have a specified foreign financial asset reported on Form 3520, Form 3520-A, Form 5471, Form 8621, Form 8865, or Form 8891, you do not need to report the asset on Form 8938.  However, you must identify on Part IV of your Form 8938 which and how many of these form(s) report the specified foreign financial assets.

Even if a specified foreign financial asset is reported on a form listed above, you must still include the value of the asset in determining whether the aggregate value of your specified foreign financial assets is more than the reporting threshold that applies to you.

Please Contact an International Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP if you have questions about the IRS Form 8938 Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets and its reporting requirements.

IRS Form 8938 and FBAR – Comparison Chart

International Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP discuss the Reporting Requirements of IRS Form 8938 and Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR):

According to the IRS, the new IRS Form 8938 filing requirement does not replace or otherwise affect a taxpayer’s obligation to file Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts).

Individuals must file each form for which they meet the relevant reporting threshold.

Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)
Who Must File? Specified individuals, which include U.S citizens, resident aliens, and certain non-resident aliens that have an interest in specified foreign financial assets and meet the reporting threshold U.S. persons, which include U.S. citizens, resident aliens, trusts, estates, and domestic entities that have an interest in foreign financial accounts and meet the reporting threshold
Does the United States include U.S. territories? No Yes, resident aliens of U.S territories and U.S. territory entities are subject to FBAR reporting
Reporting Threshold (Total Value of Assets) $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at any time during the tax year (higher threshold amounts apply to married individuals filing jointly and individuals living abroad) $10,000 at any time during the calendar year
When do you have an interest in an account or asset? If any income, gains, losses, deductions, credits, gross proceeds, or distributions from holding or disposing of the account or asset are or would be required to be reported, included, or otherwise reflected on your income tax return Financial interest: you are the owner of record or holder of legal title; the owner of record or holder of legal title is your agent or representative; you have a sufficient interest in the entity that is the owner of record or holder of legal title.Signature authority: you have authority to control the disposition of the assets in the account by direct communication with the financial institution maintaining the account.See instructions for further details.
What is Reported? Maximum value of specified foreign financial assets, which include financial accounts with foreign financial institutions and certain other foreign non-account investment assets Maximum value of financial accounts maintained by a financial institution physically located in a foreign country
How are maximum account or asset values determined and reported? Fair market value in U.S. dollars in accord with the Form 8938 instructions for each account and asset reportedConvert to U.S. dollars using the end of the taxable year exchange rate and report in U.S. dollars. Use periodic account statements to determine the maximum value in the currency of the account.Convert to U.S. dollars using the end of the calendar year exchange rate and report in U.S. dollars.
When Due? By due date, including extension, if any, for income tax return Received by June 30 (no extensions of time granted)
Where to File? File with income tax return pursuant to instructions for filing the return Mail to:Department of the Treasury
Post Office Box 32621
Detroit, MI 48232-0621For express mail to:

IRS Enterprise Computing Center
ATTN: CTR Operations
Mailroom, 4th Floor
985 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226

Certain individuals may file electronically at BSA E-Filing System

Penalties Up to $10,000 for failure to disclose and an additional $10,000 for each 30 days of non-filing after IRS notice of a failure to disclose, for a potential maximum penalty of $60,000; criminal penalties may also apply If non-willful, up to $10,000; if willful, up to the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of account balances; criminal penalties may also apply

Types of Foreign Assets and Whether They are Reportable

Financial (deposit and custodial) accounts held at foreign financial institutions Yes Yes
Financial account held at a foreign branch of a U.S. financial institution No Yes
Financial account held at a U.S. branch of a foreign financial institution No No
Foreign financial account for which you have signature authority No, unless you otherwise have an interest in the account as described above Yes, subject to exceptions
Foreign stock or securities held in a financial account at a foreign financial institution The account itself is subject to reporting, but the contents of the account do not have to be separately reported The account itself is subject to reporting, but the contents of the account do not have to be separately reported
Foreign stock or securities not held in a financial account Yes No
Foreign partnership interests Yes No
Indirect interests in foreign financial assets through an entity No Yes, if sufficient ownership or beneficial interest (i.e., a greater than 50 percent interest) in the entity. See instructions for further detail.
Foreign mutual funds Yes Yes
Domestic mutual fund investing in foreign stocks and securities No No
Foreign accounts and foreign non-account investment assets held by foreign or domestic grantor trust for which you are the grantor Yes, as to both foreign accounts and foreign non-account investment assets Yes, as to foreign accounts
Foreign-issued life insurance or annuity contract with a cash-value Yes Yes
Foreign hedge funds and foreign private equity funds Yes No
Foreign real estate held directly No No
Foreign real estate held through a foreign entity No, but the foreign entity itself is a specified foreign financial asset and its maximum value includes the value of the real estate No
Foreign currency held directly No No
Precious Metals held directly No No
Personal property, held directly, such as art, antiques, jewelry, cars and other collectibles No No
‘Social Security’- type program benefits provided by a foreign government No No

FBAR – Who is Required to File?

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss Who Must File a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR):

According to the IRS, United States persons are required to file an FBAR if:

  1. The United States person had a financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account located outside of the United States; and
  2. The aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year to be reported.

The IRS defines a United States person as U.S. citizens; U.S. residents; entities, including but not limited to, corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies, created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States; and trusts or estates formed under the laws of the United States.

Exceptions to the FBAR Reporting Requirement

Exceptions to the FBAR reporting requirements can be found in the FBAR instructions. There are filing exceptions for the following United States persons or foreign financial accounts:

  1. Certain foreign financial accounts jointly owned by spouses;
  2. United States persons included in a consolidated FBAR;
  3. Correspondent/nostro accounts;
  4. Foreign financial accounts owned by a governmental entity;
  5. Foreign financial accounts owned by an international financial institution;
  6. IRA owners and beneficiaries;
  7. Participants in and beneficiaries of tax-qualified retirement plans;
  8. Certain individuals with signature authority over but no financial interest in a foreign financial account;
  9. Trust beneficiaries (but only if a U.S. person reports the account on an FBAR filed on behalf of the trust); and
  10. Foreign financial accounts maintained on a United States military banking facility.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP if you have questions about the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) regulations and reporting requirements.