Foreign Gift Requirements is one of the most important topics for U.S. taxpayers with foreign relatives. In this article, I would like to quickly overview foreign gift requirements for U.S. tax purposes.
Foreign Gift Requirements: What is a Foreign Gift?
Legally, the term “gift” means a definite, voluntary and gratuitous transfer of property from one individual to another. The transfer must be gratuitous (or, in legal terms “without consideration”) to the recipient; there should be no expectation of receiving services or monetary consideration in return.
A foreign gift, would mean a gift received by a U.S. person from a foreign person. A “foreign person” is defined as a nonresident alien individual or foreign corporation, partnership or estate.
General Foreign Gift Requirements to Make a Foreign Gift Effective
There are four general foreign gift requirements for a foreign gift to be legally effective. First, the donor must have a legal capacity to make a gift. Usually, this means that the donor must be of the majority age and have the mental capacity to understand that he is making a gift.
Second, there must be donative intent – i.e. the donor must actually intend to give a gift to the donee. It important to emphasize that a promise to make a gift in the future is not a gift, even if the promise is accompanied by a present transfer of the physical property in question.
The other side of the donative intent is that the donor does not expect to receive any compensation or consideration for the transfer of the gift. The intent can be established through conduct, statements and, most effectively, writings.
Third, a gift must be delivered to the donee; the delivery is complete when it is made directly to the donee or to the third part on the donee’s behalf (if a third party is involved, it may be a bit more complicated to effectuate the delivery). Delivery of a gift can be actual, symbolic, or implied through conduct; in general, the courts look for an affirmative act made by the donor.
Finally, the fourth requirement is the acceptance of the gift by the donee – i.e. the donee unconditionally and affirmatively agrees to take the gift without any coercion or undue influence. Most courts would generally presume that a gift is accepted as long as the gift is beneficial and the donee does not expressly reject the gift.
Foreign Gift Requirements: Form 3520
If a foreign gift was effectively made by a foreign person to a U.S. person, it may need to be reported to the IRS. The disclosure of a foreign gift is done using Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts.
Form 3520 is an information return that needs to be filed with the IRS if, during a tax year, a U.S. taxpayer receives a foreign gift valued at more than $100,000 from a nonresident alien individual. Form 3520 also must be filed if a U.S. taxpayer receives a gift in excess of an annual threshold from a foreign entity (foreign corporation or a partnership). For the tax year 2015, such threshold was $15,601. Gifts from related parties should be combined.
There are also special rules concerning gifts received from what are called “covered expatriates”, which may result in an imposition of tax under IRC Section 2801. Also, an international tax attorney needs to review foreign gifts for potential re-characterization by the IRS. Gifts from foreign trusts are subject to different rules than gifts from foreign persons.
Penalties for Failure to Report Foreign Gifts on Form 3520
Failure to disclose a reportable foreign gift on Form 3520 may result in significant penalties. Under IRC Section 6039F, a monthly penalty of 5% of the value of the gift may be imposed; the penalty is capped at 25% of the total value of the gift. Additionally, penalties under IRC Section 6662(j) may be imposed for the undisclosed foreign financial asset understatement.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Foreign Gift Requirements
If you receive(d) a reportable foreign gift, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for legal help. Our team of legal and tax professionals, headed by the highly-experienced international tax attorney, Mr. Sherayzen, has helped U.S. taxpayers around the world with their foreign gift issues (including helping foreign relatives with making gifts to their relatives in the United States). We can help You!