Don’t Forget About FATCA

Chris Wittich

With all the publicity that the FBAR gets with its massive penalties and its unextendable deadline, let’s not lose sight of the FATCA rules and Form 8938 which is due with your individual income tax return.  The penalty is a mere $10,000 for failing to file the 8938, but unlike the FBAR, which just captures your bank account information, the 8938 has a variety of information on it.

Basically all the same FBAR information is reported, but the 8938 includes other information about foreign assets.  You list out all the foreign sourced income attributable to the accounts.  You include a note about the foreign corporations and foreign trusts that you have reported in other sections of the tax return.  You include a guesstimate as to the value of other foreign assets, plus showing your work on how you converted the values into US dollars.  Gone this year is the 8891 for reported Canadian RRSP accounts, so those RRSP accounts all get separately reported on the 8938 now.

The 8938 needs to be filed by US citizens or US residents who meet a certain threshold of foreign assets.  The threshold depends on whether they are married and whether they are physically outside of the US or not, and the thresholds themselves are different for measuring the assets on the last day of the year and the highest balance during the year.  Given all those parameters, the dollar values range from $50,000 to $600,000 so be sure to check on your situation.  I would say that when in doubt, just file it anyway.  If you are going to the trouble of finding all the asset values and the information necessary, then you might as well just file the form.  There is no tax liability generated with the form and the penalty of $10,000 for failing to file it just makes it not worthwhile to see if you can squeeze in under the threshold.


FIRPTA Withholding


Mind Your Margins