Form 8938 New Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements: Introduction

In its continuous efforts to combat tax evasion, the IRS imposed a brand-new foreign asset reporting requirements on U.S. persons.  For the very first time, starting tax year 2011 (with certain exceptions), certain individuals must file the new Form 8938 to report the ownership of specified foreign financial assets if the total value of those assets exceeds an applicable threshold amount.

This threshold amount differs depending on the particular situation of a U.S. person – whether an individual lives in the United States, is married and filing a joint income tax return, et cetera.

The “specified foreign financial assets” include any financial account maintained by foreign financial institution and certain investment assets such as stock, securities or any other interest in a foreign entity and any financial instrument or contract with an issuer or counterparty who is not a U.S. person.

Based on this description alone, it becomes obvious that the new Form is likely to impose a higher reporting burden than the famous FBARs.   Note that Form 8938 does not replace the FBAR reporting requirements – i.e. the FBARs must still be filed by June 30 of a relevant year in addition to Form 8938.

Unlike the FBAR, Form 8938 is attached to the filer’s annual tax return and must be filed by the due date (including extensions) for that return.  An annual return includes the following forms: Form 1040, Form 1120, Form 1065, Form 1120-F, Form 1120-S, and Form 1040NR (of a nonresident alien who is a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico or American Samoa).

Note that Form 8938 imposes new failure-to-file and accuracy-related penalties, which are very severe and may be combined with other penalties.  Moreover, failure to file an accurate Form 8938 may extend the statute of limitations for all or a part of your income tax return until three years after the date on which you file Form 8938.

Note that, pursuant to Notice 2011-55, the IRS provides for a transitional rule for the year 2011 which may defer your obligation to file Form 8938 until the tax year 2012 as long as you satisfy all of the three requirements of the transitional rule.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office For Legal Help With Form 8938

This article highlights a few features of the new Form 8938 and it should not be relied upon in determining whether you are obligated to file Form 8938.  Form 8938 is fairly complex and you need professional help to determine how to comply with the Form’s requirements.

If you have any questions with respect to Form 8938, please contact Sherayzen Law Office.  Our experienced international tax firm will help you determine whether you must file Form 8938 and help you draft and file the form with your tax return in order to avoid the heavy IRS penalties for non-compliance.