Indian Bank Accounts : Key US Tax Obligations | International Tax Lawyer

Due to ongoing implementation of FATCA as well as the tax reform in India, more and more Indian Americans and US tax residents of Indian nationality are learning that they are required to disclose to the IRS their Indian bank accounts. Yet, there are still many more US taxpayers left who are either completely unaware of this requirement or they are confused with respect to what is required to be disclosed and how. This essay intends to clarify who is required to report their Indian bank accounts to the IRS and explain the most common US international tax requirements applicable to Indian bank accounts.

Indian Bank Accounts: Who Needs to Report Them to the US Government?

All US tax residents with Indian bank accounts need to disclose them to IRS. Warning: “US tax resident” is not equivalent to the immigration concept of “US Permanent Resident”. The confusion over these two concepts is a frequent cause of US tax noncompliance, because many Indian immigrants who come to the United States on a work visa assume hat they are not US tax residents since they do not have the status of a US Permanent Resident. This assumption is completely false.

The definition of US tax residency includes US permanent residents, but it is much broader. In general, this term includes: US citizens, US Permanent Residents, any person who satisfied the Substantial Presence Test and any person who declared himself as a tax resident. There are exceptions to this rule, but you will need to consult with an international tax lawyer before making use of any of these exceptions.

Indian Bank Accounts: Indian Income Must Be Disclosed on US Tax Returns

All US tax residents must comply with the numerous US tax reporting requirements, including the worldwide income reporting requirement. All Indian-source income generated by the Indian bank accounts of US tax residents must be disclosed on their US tax returns.

The worldwide income reporting requirement applies to any kind of income: bank interest income, dividends, capital gains, et cetera. This income should be reported on US tax returns even if it was already disclosed on Indian tax returns or subject to Indian tax withholding. This income should be disclosed in the United States even if it never left India.

Indian Bank Accounts: FBAR

The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Form 114 (popularly known as “FBAR”) is one of the most important and dangerous reporting requirements that applies to Indian bank accounts. Generally, a US person is required to file FBAR if he has a financial interest in or signatory authority or an authority over foreign bank and financial accounts which, in the aggregate, exceed $10,000 at any point during a calendar year.

FBAR has an extremely severe penalty system, and US taxpayers should strive to do everything in their power to make sure that they comply with this requirement.

Indian Bank Accounts: FATCA Form 8938

US tax residents are also required to disclose their Indian bank accounts on Form 8938. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) led to the creation of Form 8938; US taxpayers should have filed their first Forms 8938 with their 2011 US tax returns.

Form 8938 requires US tax residents to report all of their Specified Foreign Financial Assets (“SFFA”) as long as the Form’s filing threshold is met. SFFA includes a very diverse set of financial instruments, including foreign bank and financials accounts, bonds, swaps, ownership interest in a foreign business, beneficiary interest in a foreign trust and many other types of financial assets. In other words, with the exception of signatory authority accounts, Form 8938 not only duplicates FBAR, but covers a much broader range of financial instruments that would not be required to be reported on FBAR.

It should be pointed out that, even when FBAR and Form 8938 cover the same assets, both forms must be filed despite the duplication of the disclosure.

While Form 8938 has a much higher filing threshold than FBAR, it may still be easily exceeded, especially by taxpayers who reside in the United States. For example, if a taxpayer resides in the United States and his tax return filing status is “single”, then he would only need to have $50,000 or higher at the end of the year or $75,000 or higher at any point during the year in order to trigger the Form 8938 filing requirement. A lot of US taxpayers with Indian bank accounts easily exceed this threshold, especially if they are helping their parents or buying properties in India.

Finally, it should be remembered that Form 8938 has its own penalty structure for failure to file the form. Furthermore, Form 8938 forms an integral part of a federal tax return; this means that a failure to file the form may extend the IRS Statute of Limitations for an IRS audit indefinitely for the entire return.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Reporting of Your Indian Bank Accounts in the United States

In this essay, I just listed the most common US tax reporting requirements that may apply to US owners of Indian bank accounts. There is a plethora of other requirements that may apply to these taxpayers.

This is why you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your US tax compliance. We have worked extensively with our Indian clients with respect to reporting of their Indian bank accounts, including offshore voluntary disclosure for late filings.

The stakes in international tax compliance are high, and you need to be able to rely on the knowledge, experience and professionalism of Sherayzen Law Office in order to make sure that you protect yourself from draconian IRS tax penalties. We have successfully helped hundreds of US taxpayers to deal with their US international tax compliance, and We can help You!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!