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June 29, 2011

IRS Issues another draft version of Form 8938 for foreign financial asset holders

 Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets”

The IRS has issued another new draft Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets,” which is available on IRS's website. Form 8938 will be used by individuals to report an interest in one or more specified foreign financial assets.

Background. For tax years beginning after Mar. 18, 2010, taxpayers with an interest in a “specified foreign financial asset” during the tax year must attach a disclosure statement to their income tax return for any year in which the aggregate value of all such assets is greater than $50,000. 

“Specified foreign financial assets” are: (1) depository or custodial accounts at foreign financial institutions, and (2) to the extent not held in an account at a financial institution, (a) stocks or securities issued by foreign persons, (b) any other financial instrument or contract held for investment that is issued by or has a counterparty that is not a U.S. person, and (c) any interest in a foreign entity. 

For most taxpayers on a Calendar year basis, this form will be due with their 2011 tax return.

The draft Form 8938 was released on June 22nd without instructions. However, the draft form references the instructions throughout, which indicates that they will likely be issued soon.

Part I of the draft form requires information about foreign deposit and custodial accounts, including the maximum value of any such account during the tax year. Part II has similar entries for “other foreign assets,” but notes that specified foreign financial assets that have been otherwise reported on Forms 3520, 3520-A, 5471, 8621, or 8865, do not have to be included on Form 8938. Part III asks for a summary of tax items attributable to the accounts and assets reported in Parts I and II, including associated items such as interest, dividends, and royalties. Part IV requires disclosure of the number of the filed forms referenced in Part II on which any foreign financial assets that were excepted from Part II were reported.

You  can be view the new draft  form on the IRS website at

June 21, 2011

Foreign Bank and Financial Account Report (FBAR)(TDF 90-22.1) is due 6/30/11 and cannot be extended.

Form TDF 90-22.1 to report your foreign financial and bank accounts is due 6/30/11 and cannot be extended. There is a penalty of $10,000 or more for not filing this form or filing it late.  It is filed separately from your US tax return.

  • The FBAR form and instructions can be downloaded here.
  • The FBAR must be filed if the combined highest balances in your foreign bank accounts, pension accounts, stock brokerage accounts, etc. equal or exceed $10,000 at any time during 2010.
  • If you have not filed this form in past years but are required to, the IRS can busject you to much greater penalties and criminal prosecution unless you enter the 2011 IRS Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program which may reduce your penalties and stop possible criminal prosecution by its deadline 8/31/11.
  • The IRS is currently securing lists of US depositors from foreign banks and financial institutions and will be checking in the future and imposing penalties if they discover you should have filed this form and did not do so.
  • Failing to file this form has much more serious monetary and criminal consequences in most situations than failing to file your personal tax returns late.
Please contact us for a mini consultation if you wish a consultation protected by Attorney client privilege on your personal situation.  We have helped hundreds of expatriates catch up with their past unfiled returns and FBAR forms.

June 17, 2011

RS Extends Voluntary Disclosure Deadline

The Internal Revenue Service has given taxpayers an extra 90 days to provide a voluntary disclosure of their offshore bank accounts, foreign corporations, foreign partnerships and LLCs,  and Passive Foreign Investment Companies,  if they have made a “good faith” attempt to gather the necessary materials.

In an update  made on  June 2, 2011 to the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, a new question asks about what happens if the taxpayer cannot comply by the August 31, 2011, deadline for the latest voluntary disclosure program.

The update expands upon an earlier answer, FAQ 25, describing all of the materials that must be sent to the IRS, including copies of previously filed tax returns and foreign account statements. The update noted, “A taxpayer may request an extension of the deadline to complete his or her submission if the taxpayer can demonstrate a good faith attempt to fully comply with FAQ 25 on or before August 31, 2011. The good faith attempt to fully comply must include the properly completed and signed agreements to extend the period of time to assess tax (including tax penalties) and to assess FBAR penalties.
“Requests for up to a 90 day extension must include a statement of those items that are missing, the reasons why they are not included, and the steps taken to secure them.  Requests for extensions must be made in writing and sent to the Austin Service Center on or before August 31, 2011.
Internal Revenue Service
3651 S. I H 35 Stop 4301 AUSC
Austin, TX 78741”

June 16, 2011

Extension of Time fo File FBAR Form - if you only sign but have no financial interest

The IRS has extended the time you have to file the FBAR (TDF 90-22.1form) to report Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts if you only sign on the account (signature authority) but have NO financial interest in the account for tax years 2009 and earlier. If this is your situation, you now have until November 1, 2011 to file all applicable FBAR forms with respect to such accounts.  This extension of time does not apply to the 2010 FBAR forms which are still due on 6/30/11 even if you only sign, but have no financial interest.

This extension of time does not affect the date requirement to file FBARs for the IRS 2009 or 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs.

June 14, 2011

Taxpayers outside the U.S. face a June 15 deadline

  Taxpayers outside the U.S. who qualify for an automatic two-month extension must file their 2010 federal income tax returns by June 15, IRS said in a reminder. This deadline applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens who both live and work outside the country, and to members of the military serving outside the U.S. Taxpayers utilizing this extension must attach a statement to their return specifying which of these conditions applies, IRS stressed. Most taxpayers abroad now qualify to use IRS Free File to prepare and electronically file their returns, IRS said. According to the agency, higher-income taxpayers should explore this option due to the foreign earned income exclusion. The $58,000 income limit applies after the exclusion of up to $91,500 is subtracted. Consequently, this makes Free File available to many higher-income taxpayers. Taxpayers who cannot meet the June 15 deadline can receive an automatic extension until Oct. 17. This is an extension of time to file, not an extension of time to pay,

June 4, 2011


The IRS recently announced a new email form on their website,  for the sole purpose of allowing tax payers to send them international tax questions with the promise they would respond with an answer from an expert within a reasonable time. We decided to test that question form and see what kind of answer was sent back.

We asked them a question on Form 5471 (foreign corporation tax form) involving a filing issue that was  specifically addressed and answered on page 1 or 2 of the IRS instructions to Form 5471.  We then waited for the email answer which came in about a week.

Their answer thanked us for our question and then state it was a complex question and we should consult a CPA or other tax professional for an answer because they were not able to answer it. The IRS response showed us:

  • One more time that a taxpayer cannot rely on the IRS who writes and administers the International Tax system to answer questions even if they indicate they will do so and  should know the answer.
  • A question that was answered on page 2 of the instructions for Form 5471 was too difficult for the IRS to handle....then how do they expect taxpayers to handle it.
  • The IRS creates a lot of business for tax professionals like us.

June 3, 2011


The IRS on June 2, 2011, changed certain questions and answers on its Frequently Asked Questions page  which contains the rules to its 2011 Voluntary Offshore Disclosure Program. The new information provides some significant further guidance for those taxpayers trying to personally decide if they wish to enter the program.  Some of the additional information which is useful includes.

  • Procedures to get an extension of time beyond the original 8/31/11 deadline
  • Additional Questions and Answers (51.1 to 51.3) indicating factual situations when a taxpayer may elect to  Opt out of participating in the program because the civil penalties imposed outside of the program may be less than those imposed if the taxpayer chose to enter the program.

June 2, 2011


The IRS has issued a new draft of Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets which must be filed for 2011with returns to report foreign financial assets. The form is now more complex than the prior draft. This is not the final version  so there could be further changes before it is finalize. Download a pdf version of the draft form here.