Foreign Accounts and IRS Form 8938

When Do I Need to File IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets?

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), enacted in 2010, requires certain U.S. taxpayers to report their interests in specified foreign financial assets with the IRS.  (Note, that this is in addition to the filing of an FBAR with the Treasury Department if required under those rules.) The reporting requirement may apply if the assets have an aggregate value exceeding certain thresholds. The IRS has released Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, for this reporting requirement under FATCA.


For now, only specified individuals are required to file Form 8938, but specified U.S. entities will eventually also have to file the form.

Taxpayers who do not file a federal income tax return for the year do not have to File Form 8938, even if the value of their foreign assets exceeds the normal reporting threshold.

Individuals who have to file Form 8938 include U.S. citizens, resident aliens for any part of the year, and nonresident aliens living in Puerto Rico or American Samoa.

Reporting Applies to Specified Foreign Financial Assets

Specified foreign financial assets include but are not limited to:

  • A financial account maintained by a foreign financial institution;
  • Other foreign financial assets, such as stock or securities issued by a non-U.S. person, or an interest in a foreign entity.

Thresholds For Filing

The aggregate value of the individual’s specified foreign financial assets must exceed specified reporting thresholds, as follows:

  • Unmarried U.S. taxpayers, and married U.S. taxpayers filing a separate return – more than $50,000 on the last day of the year, or more than $75,000 at any time during the year;
  • U.S. married taxpayers filing a joint return – more than $100,000 on the last day of the year, or more than $150,000 at any time during the year; or
  • Taxpayers living abroad: if filing a joint return, more than $400,000 on the last day of the year, or more than $600,000 during the year; other taxpayers, more than $200,000 on the last day of the year, or more than $300,000 at any time during the year.

Taxpayers who report assets on other forms, such as Form 3520, do not have to report the asset on Form 8938, but must use Form 8938 to identify other forms on which they report such assets.


Reporting applies for tax years beginning after March 18, 2010, the date that FATCA was enacted. Most taxpayers, such as those who report their taxes for the calendar year, must start filing Form 8938 with their 2011 income tax return and thereafter whenever they exceed the applicable thresholds.

If you have any questions about Form 8938, please contact our office.

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Philadelphia, PA 19102

Telephone: 215-735-2336

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From their offices in Philadelphia, PA, the law firm of Steven J. Fromm & Associates, P.C. provides a full range of estate planning, probate and estate administration, tax, business and corporate legal services to clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley Area, the Five-County Area, Bucks County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Berks County, Lehigh County, Lancaster County, York County, Harrisburg, Norristown, Doylestown, Media, West Chester, Allentown, Lancaster, and Reading.