U.S. Taxation of ISA - Individual Savings Account | IRS Tax on ISA (Golding & Golding)

U.S. Taxation of ISA – Individual Savings Account | IRS Tax on ISA (Golding & Golding)

U.S. Taxation of ISA – Individual Savings Account | IRS Tax on ISA

UK ISA for U.S. Person: For U.S. Persons who own an ISA (Individual Savings Account) in the UK (or any non-U.S. Country), the U.S. Tax ramifications and reporting requirements may be different than the foreign country.

U.S. Tax on ISA

Why are the tax rules complicated?

Because while the investment may grow tax-free in the foreign country, the U.S does not necessarily recognize the tax-free status. And, since the U.S. taxes individuals on their worldwide income — the IRS rules can get fairly complex, for an otherwise not-so-complex UK investment vehicle.

Let’s take a look.

US Tax & UK ISA – Is it Taxable?

An ISA is an individual Savings Account.

There are various different types of versions of ISAs, such as Cash, Stock and other types of investments (such as a Lifetime ISA which is used in anticipation of buying a first home, or retirement or Junior ISA for kids under 18).

As provided by Barclay’s:

“An ISA is an Individual Savings Account – it allows you to save or invest money in a tax-efficient way.


An ISA (individual savings account) is a tax-free savings or investment account that allows you to put your ISA allowance to work and maximize the potential returns you make on your money, by shielding it from income tax, tax on dividends and capital gains tax.


You need to bear in mind, though, that tax rules can change in future and that their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances.


Because, since the ISA is not usually in a retirement account, it does not receive default exempt status during the growth phase.



How Much can I Invest in an ISA?

There are various limitations for investing, and each year a person gets a certain amount they can investment (usually around 20,000 GBP Per year) – and there are limitations as to how many different ISA funds you can contribute to each year.

How Is an ISA Taxed in the UK?

The ISA grows tax-free, so even if interest, dividends, or capital gains are accruing within the fund, you are not immediately taxed on the growth phase.

Does the U.S. Tax the Growth on an ISA?

Generally, the answer would be yes. It is an investment, and if income is being generated on the growth of the fund, and/or it is accruing interest, dividends, or capital gain distributions, it would not be exempt from U.S. Tax

ISA Reporting (FBAR, FATCA, PFIC, Foreign Trust)

Beyond the taxation rules for ISAs, there are also “reporting” Rules for ISA as well.

ISA FBAR (FinCEN 114)

The FBAR is used to report “Foreign Financial Accounts.” This includes investments funds, and certain foreign life insurance policies.

The threshold requirements are relatively simple. On any day of the year, if you aggregated (totaled) the maximum balances of all of your foreign accounts, does the total amount exceed $10,000 (USD)?

If it does, then you most likely have to file the form. The most important thing to remember is you do not need to have more than $10,000 in each account; rather, it is an annual aggregate total of the maximum balances of all the accounts.

ISA Form 8938

This form is used to report “Specified Foreign Financial Assets.”

There are four main thresholds for individuals is as follows:.

  • Single or Filing Separate (in the U.S.): $50,000/$75,000
  • Married with a Joint Returns (In the U.S): $100,000/$150,000
  • Single or Filing Separate (Outside the U.S.): $200,000/$300,000
  • Married with a Joint Returns (Outside the U.S.): $400,000/$600,000

ISA Form 3520

Form 3520 is filed when a person receives a Gift, Inheritance or Trust Distribution from a foreign person, business or trust. There are three (3) main different thresholds:

  • Gift from a Foreign Person: More than $100,000.
  • Gift from a Foreign Business: More than $16,076.
  • Foreign Trust: Various threshold requirements involving foreign Trusts

ISA Form 5471

Form 5471 is filed in any year that you have ownership interest in a foreign corporation, and meet one of the threshold requirements for filling (Categories 1-5). These are general thresholds:

  • Category 1: U.S. shareholders of specified foreign corporations (SFCs) subject to the provisions of section 965.
  • Category 2: Officer or Director of a foreign corporation, with a U.S. Shareholder of at least 10% ownership.
  • Category 3: A person acquires stock (or additional stock) that bumps them up to 10% Shareholder.
  • Category 4: Control of a foreign corporation for at least 30 days during the accounting period.
  • Category 5: 10% ownership of a Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC).

ISA Form 8621

Form 8621 requires a complex analysis, beyond the scope of this article. It is required by any person with a PFIC (Passive Foreign Investment Company).

The analysis gets infinitely more complicated if a person has excess distributions. The failure to file the return may result in the statute of limitations remaining open indefinitely.

*There are some exceptions, exclusions, and limitations to filing.

What if I am Out of Compliance?

If you are out of FBAR compliance, the penalties can be severe. Therefore, you may consider entering the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure/tax amnesty, before it is too late.

Golding & Golding, A PLC

We have successfully represented clients in more than 1,000 streamlined and voluntary disclosure submissions nationwide and in over 70-different countries.

We are the “go-to” firm for other Attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Accountants, and Financial Professionals across the globe.

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Specialist

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Specialist

Golding & Golding: Our international tax lawyers practice exclusively in the area of IRS Offshore & Voluntary Disclosure. We represent clients in 70+ different countries. Managing Partner Sean M. Golding is a Board-Certified Tax Law Specialist Attorney (a designation earned by < 1% of attorneys nationwide.). He leads a full-service offshore disclosure & tax law firm. Sean and his team have represented thousands of clients nationwide & worldwide in all aspects of IRS offshore & voluntary disclosure and compliance during his 20-year career as an Attorney.

Sean holds a Master's in Tax Law from one of the top Tax LL.M. programs in the country at the University of Denver. He has also earned the prestigious IRS Enrolled Agent credential. Mr. Golding's articles have been referenced in such publications as the Washington Post, Forbes, Nolo, and various Law Journals nationwide.
IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Specialist