FBAR vs 8938

FBAR vs 8938: The comparison of the FBAR and 8938 can be a very complicated analysis . The FBAR is for foreign accounts and FATCA Form 8938 is for foreign assets, and the form requirements overlap — they are not mutually exclusive.

The IRS provides some resources, but oftentimes these instructions and publications are unclear.

The FBAR is filed electronically with FinCEN and is separate from a tax return. The Form 8938 is included with a tax return. In recent years, the Internal Revenue Service has made foreign accounts compliance a key enforcement priority. While there are several potential offshore penalties for filing the form(s) late, the IRS has developed various FBAR and 8938 amnesty programs — collectively referred to as offshore voluntary disclosure.

We will provide an updated comparison of the FBAR vs 8938 for offshore reporting.

Comparing FinCEN Form 114 to FATCA Form 8938

FBAR vs 8938 Comparison of IRS Offshore Reporting Form Update

FBAR vs 8938 Comparison of IRS Offshore Reporting Form Update

There are many differences between the FBAR vs 8938, and comparing the different IRS requirements is a time-intensive process. The FBAR is the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account Form

It is primarily used to report foreign accounts, and not specifically hard assets. For example, the FBAR is used to report foreign stock accounts, but not directly owned shares of stock. It also includes foreign life insurance, pension and mutual or investment funds.

The 8938 is the Reporting of Specified Foreign Financial Assets form. It requires the reporting of specified foreign financial assets, which has a larger scope than just foreign bank and financial accounts. So in continuing from the above example, either a stock certificate or stock account would be included on an 8938 form. But, unlike the FBAR which has one single threshold for reporting, there are several reporting thresholds for the 8938. 

The reporting requirements for the 8938 will vary depending on the filing status and residency of the filer. Also, the Form 8938 is used to report assets in which the filer has an interest in; conversely, even a person only has signature authority over a foreign account, the FBAR may still be required.

What’s the Difference Between FBAR vs. 8938?

Both of the Form 8938 and FBAR forms require U.S. Persons to report Foreign Accounts (accounts that are located abroad) to report their offshore accounts to the IRS.

Each of these two forms are different, and each form has different reporting requirements.

Four main issues to remember:

  • The FBAR & 8938 Forms are not the same
  • The FBAR & 8938 Forms are not mutually exclusive.
  • You may have to file both forms.
  • If you do not file these forms, the penalties can be extreme.

Remember to Breathe…

When people first learn that they are required to report their Foreign Bank Account, Retirement Account, Investment Account, or Business Account to the IRS and U.S. Government — the first thing that happens is usually a glass of wine (or two or three) and a night spent Google Searching (Read: unnecessary panic). By the end of their midnight search, they have come to the conclusion that if it wasn’t for FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), they would have not reporting requirement – but this is false.

Even before FATCA, there was in IRS rule and requirement to file and report U.S. foreign accounts called FBAR Reporting (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account Form). The FBAR has been around for 50 years, but with the introduction of FATCA, FBAR enforcement has been amplified.

The failure to properly file an FBAR report of FATCA Form annually may result in excessive fines and penalties – which is how the IRS and U.S. government motivates you to get into compliance.

And, with the introduction of Customs Holds, Passport Revocations and worse, it is best to remain in compliance with U.S. Law, no matter where you reside.

What are the Foreign Account Offshore Reporting Laws?

Under current U.S. Tax Laws, Rules and Regulations, there are significant reporting requirements for Individuals, Estates, and Businesses that have foreign accounts, aka U.S. persons — not just citizens.. These are individuals who generally fall into the category of being either a U.S. Citizen (accidental or not), Legal Permanent Resident (aka Green Card Holder), or Foreign National subject to US tax under the Substantial Presence Test.

If a person falls into one of these common categories (there are others) and meets certain threshold reporting requirements, then under current U.S. tax law, he or she is required to report their foreign accounts and other foreign money to the US government.

There are two main reporting requirements as follows:

FBAR (FinCEN 114)

If it any point during the year a U.S. Person has more than $10,000 in annual aggregate total in foreign accounts (aka accounts outside of the United States) on any day the year, they are reported to report that information annually on an FBAR.

It does not matter if the person owns the money, is a joint account holder with a non-US person, or merely has signature authority over the account – they are still required to report.

This form is not filed directly with a tax return, but is a separate form that is filed electronically directly to the Department of Treasury.

FATCA & 8938

in addition, starting in 2011 under the new FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) law, individuals may also have a reporting requirement directly on their tax return with the 8938. Unlike the FBAR, the FATCA form has different threshold requirements that vary depending on whether a person is Married Filing Jointly (MFJ), Married Filing Separate (MFS), or Single.

It will also vary depending on whether a person is a U.S. Resident for Foreign Resident. In fact, the threshold requirements for reporting are much higher (aka you must have more money to report) when you reside abroad (outside of the United States).

Golding & Golding International FBAR & FATCA Tax Library

We have written countless articles on FBAR and FATCA, and have been featured in many publications.

Please feel free to search out free international tax library on our website for assistance with researching a specific issue.

Are you out of FBAR or 8938 Compliance?

If you are already out of compliance for not properly reporting or paying tax involving your cryptocurrency, you may consider getting into compliance before it is too late.

Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm

Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax, and specifically IRS offshore disclosure

We are the “go-to” firm for other Attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Accountants, and Financial Professionals across the globe. Our attorneys have worked with thousands of clients on offshore disclosure matters, including FATCA & FBAR.

Each case is led by a Board-Certified Tax Law Specialist with 20 years of experience, and the entire matter (tax and legal) is handled by our team, in-house.

*Please beware of copycat tax and law firms misleading the public about their credentials and experience.

Less than 1% of Tax Attorneys Nationwide Are Certified Specialists

Sean M. Golding is one of less than 350 Attorneys (out of more than 200,000 practicing California Attorneys) to earn the Certified Tax Law Specialist credential. The credential is awarded to less than 1% of Attorneys.

Recent Golding & Golding Case Highlights

  • We represented a client in an 8-figure disclosure that spanned 7 countries.
  • We represented a high-net-worth client to facilitate a complex expatriation with offshore disclosure.
  • We represented an overseas family with bringing multiple businesses & personal investments into U.S. tax and offshore compliance.
  • We took over a case from a small firm that unsuccessfully submitted multiple clients to IRS Offshore Disclosure.
  • We successfully completed several recent disclosures for clients with assets ranging from $50,000 – $7,000,000+.

How to Hire Experienced Offshore Counsel?

Generally, experienced attorneys in this field will have the following credentials/experience:

  • Board Certified Tax Law Specialist credential
  • Master’s of Tax Law (LL.M.)
  • 20-years experience as a practicing attorney
  • Extensive litigation, high-stakes audit and trial experience
  • Dually Licensed as an EA (Enrolled Agent) or CPA

Interested in Learning More about Golding & Golding?

No matter where in the world you reside, our international tax team can get you IRS offshore compliant. 

Golding & Golding specializes in FBAR and FATCA. Contact our firm today for assistance with getting compliant.