Form 8938

Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets

Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, plays a crucial role in the U.S. tax system, especially for taxpayers who have foreign assets. This detailed guide aims to demystify the 8938 form, highlighting its purpose, who needs to file it, and how it impacts your tax filing status. Whether you're a taxpayer with foreign assets or a tax professional seeking to assist clients, this resource will serve as your go-to guide for all things related to the 8938 form.

What is a 8938 Form?

The 8938 form is a tax form used to report specified foreign financial assets to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Its main purpose is to enhance tax compliance by U.S. taxpayers with overseas assets and accounts. The form is part of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which came into effect in 2010.

  • Detailed Description: Form 8938 requires taxpayers to disclose any financial assets held in foreign institutions, including bank accounts, stocks, securities, and any other financial instruments, if these assets exceed certain thresholds.
  • Purpose and Significance: The form helps the IRS ensure U.S. taxpayers are paying the appropriate taxes on foreign assets and income, aiming to reduce or eliminate tax evasion.
  • Components of the Form: It includes parts for identifying taxpayer information, detailing each foreign asset, and summarizing the total value of reported assets.

Who Needs a 8938 Form?

Not every taxpayer will need to file Form 8938. The obligation hinges on specific criteria related to the value and type of foreign assets.

  • Criteria: The filing requirement is based on the total value of foreign financial assets. For example, unmarried taxpayers living in the U.S. must file if the total value of their foreign assets is more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $75,000 at any time during the year. These thresholds vary for married taxpayers and those living abroad.
  • Obligations: It's crucial to accurately report all required assets to avoid penalties.
  • Deadlines: Form 8938 is filed alongside your annual tax return, adhering to the usual tax filing deadlines (e.g., April 15).

How to Read and Understand 8938 Form

To accurately complete and understand Form 8938, familiarize yourself with its sections and the information required.

  • Detailed Breakdown: The form is divided into parts for different categories of assets, such as depository accounts and stock or securities.
  • Explanation of Terms: Terms like "specified foreign financial assets" and "issuer or counterparty" are pivotal to correctly identifying what needs to be reported.

How to Get Your 8938 Form

Obtaining Form 8938 is straightforward:

  • Procedures: You can download the form directly from the IRS website or obtain it from professional tax software.
  • Direct Link: Download Form 8938 from the IRS.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Filing Form 8938 can be complex, and mistakes can lead to penalties.

  • Common Errors: Overlooking assets, misunderstanding reporting thresholds, and incorrectly calculating asset values are frequent errors.
  • Tips: Double-check foreign currency conversions and keep detailed records of all foreign financial assets.

8938 Form and Tax Filing

Form 8938 can have a significant impact on your tax filing process.

  • Impact on Tax Filing: Failing to file can result in substantial penalties and interest. Accurate reporting ensures compliance and helps avoid unnecessary IRS scrutiny.
  • Role in Tax Returns: The information from Form 8938 may affect taxable income calculations, especially if foreign income is involved.

FAQ Section

  1. Do I need to file Form 8938 if I already file FBAR? Yes, Form 8938 and FBAR serve different purposes, and filing one does not exempt you from potentially having to file the other.

  2. What happens if I forget to file Form 8938? Failure to file can result in a penalty of $10,000 and go up from there, depending on the circumstances and delay.

  3. Are there exceptions to who needs to file Form 8938? Yes, certain individuals such as bona fide residents of U.S. territories may not need to file.

  4. Can I file Form 8938 electronically with my tax return? Yes, Form 8938 can be filed electronically with your federal tax return.

  5. Where can I get help filling out Form 8938? It's recommended to consult with a tax professional or advisor who is familiar with international tax issues.


Form 8938 is a critical component of U.S. tax compliance for taxpayers with foreign assets. Understanding who needs to file, how to accurately complete the form, and the implications of not filing are paramount. If you find yourself in a complex situation or with specific questions, consulting a tax professional is highly advisable.

For further reading and resources:

Adhering to these guidelines will ensure that you're well-informed about the requirements and processes associated with Form 8938, leading to a smooth and compliant tax filing process.

Always refer to the IRS website or a tax professional for the most accurate and up-to-date information. provides general information and software tools for tax preparation; however, it does not offer personalized tax, legal, or professional advice. It's recommended to consult with a qualified professional for specific advice related to your financial situation.