Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA August 24, 2014 7 min read

Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law

The following is a summary of some of the foreign asset reporting requirements:

Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements - IRS Form 3520 Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts

The instructions for Form 3520 specify who must file. [1] You are required to file the form 3520 if:

  1. You are deemed the responsible party for reporting a reportable event. A reportable event is:

a. The creation of a foreign trust by a U.S. person,

b. The transfer of any money or property, directly or indirectly, to a foreign trust by a U.S. person, including a transfer by reason of death,

c. The death of a citizen or resident of the United States if the decedent was treated as the owner of any portion of a foreign trust, or any portion of a foreign trust was included in the gross estate of the decedent

  1. You are a U.S. person who, during the current tax year, was treated as the owner of any part of the assets of a foreign trust.
  2. You are a U.S. person who received, directly or indirectly a distribution from a foreign trust, (including uncompensated use of trust property) or a related foreign trust held an outstanding obligation issued by you that you treated as a qualified obligation
  3. You are a U.S. person who during the current year received either:
    1. More than $100,000 from a nonresident alien individual or a foreign estate that you treated as a gift or a bequest.
    2. More than $15,102 from a foreign corporation or partnership that you treated as a gift.

It should be noted that if you are required to file form 3520, it is due on the same date as your income tax return but gets sent to a different address, and not included with your 1040 income tax filing.


Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements- IRS Form 8938 Statement of Specified Foreign Assets

Separate and apart from the fun of section III of Schedule B of IRS 1040/1040A, is form 8938 which is the Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and certain non-resident aliens that have an interest in specific foreign financial assets and meet the filing thresholds must file this report yearly with their income tax returns. [2]

Form 8938 is required if the total foreign held asset value was $50,000 on the last day of the tax year, or $75,000 at any time during the tax year. If you are married and file jointly with your spouse, the threshold is $100,000 on the last day of the year or $150,000 at any time during the tax year. If your tax home is a foreign country under the IRS’s rules, an unmarried taxpayer is required to report only if his or her assets were more than $200,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $300,000 at any point during the year. The threshold for married taxpayers living abroad is $400,000 on the last day of the tax year or $600,000 at any time during the tax year.

You must report the maximum value of the foreign financial assets or financial accounts with foreign financial institutions, and certain other foreign non-account investment assets. The assets are reported in U.S. dollars using the end of the taxable year exchange rates. Like FinCEN form 114, there are reporting exemptions, but they differ from those of form 114. You do not have to report an account held in a foreign branch of a U.S. bank. Domestic mutual funds that invest in foreign stocks or securities or private equity funds are exempt. If held directly, personal property, such as jewelry and art, real estate, currency, and precious metals held abroad are all exempt.

Have more questions concerning your foreign asset reporting requirements? Please contact our office today.


[1] Internal Revenue Service Instructions for From 3520.

[2] Internal Revenue Service Instructions for Form 8938.


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Last updated: September 24, 2022

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Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law



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