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 8938Form 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.

IRS Form 8938 and Revised Form 8621 Filing Requirements Under Notice 2011-55

The IRS recently released Notice 2011-55, partially suspending certain Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) information reporting requirements until Form 8938, (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets), and a revised Form 8621, (Return by a Shareholder of a Passive Foreign Investment Company or a Qualified Electing Fund) are released.

It is important to note that while the reporting requirements of Forms 8938 and revised Form 8621 have been partially suspended, they have not been excused for taxpayers. Thus, taxpayers should be aware that until the new forms are issued, tax preparation may be necessary in order to be in compliance and avoid severe penalties.

FATCA Reporting Requirements

Congress enacted FATCA as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (“HIRE” Act). Included in FATCA is the additional information reporting requirements of IRC Sections 6038(D) and 1298(f).

Under 6038(D), taxpayers who hold more than $50,000 in the aggregate in any financial account maintained by a foreign financial institution, or in any foreign stock, interest in a foreign entity (including a foreign trust, or financial instrument with a foreign counterpart that is not held in a custodial account of a financial institution) are subject to file a Form 8938 with their annual return.

IRC Code Section 1298(f) requires a U.S. person who is a shareholder in a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) to file an annual report, Form 8621. Notice 2011-55 states that the IRS will be issuing a revised Form 8621. Once the revised form is issued, individuals must retroactively file the revised Form 8621 for tax years beginning after the date of the HIRE Act (March 18, 2010).

The IRS is planning on also issuing further regulations regarding these reporting requirements.

Notice 2011-55

IRS Notice 2011-55 provides that the IRC 6038D Form 8938 reporting requirements are suspended until the form is released. Additionally, as noted above, for U.S. shareholders of PFIC’s who were not previously required to file Form 8621 under the current requirements before the enactment of Section 1298(f), reporting requirements are suspended (but not excused) until the revised Form 8621 is released. Taxpayers who are already required to file Form 8621 under the current instructions must continue to file the form.

When the IRS issues the revised forms, taxpayers who must file will be required to attach the appropriate forms to their next information return or tax return, completed for the suspended tax year. Failure to file (or to properly file) Form 8938 and/or Form 8621 for the suspended tax year may result in the extension of the statute of limitations under section 6501(c)(8), and penalties may also be applied.

A Form 8938 or revised Form 8621 filed for a suspended tax year with a timely filed information or tax return will generally be treated as having been filed in the date that the income tax or information return for the suspended tax year was filed.

Subject to certain exceptions, the statute of limitations for assessment of tax will not expire until three years after Form 8938 and/or revised Form 8621 is received by the IRS.

FBAR Requirements Not Affected

The IRS stated in Notice 2011-55 that the filing requirements of FinCEN Form 114 formerly Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts; “FBAR”) are not suspended under the notice.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office For Experienced Legal Help

This article is intended to give a brief summary of these issues, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Tax planning and reporting often necessitates an experienced understanding of complex regulations, statutes, and case law, and penalties for failure to comply can be substantial. If you have further questions regarding your own tax circumstances, Sherayzen Law Office offers professional advice for all of your Federal, international, cross-border, and state tax needs. Call or email for a consultation today.