Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, is a reporting requirement for all holders of foreign financial assets with aggregate balances as low as $50,000 for single filers and $100,000 for married filing jointly filers (see higher thresholds for expatriates and complete filing instructions at  Aggregate balances mean the balances of all your foreign financial assets added together.

Foreign financial assets include all accounts covered by the FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), except for accounts on which you only have signature authority, and also extends to foreign securities and financial instruments.   Foreign financial assets do not include real estate, although they possibly may include leases on real estate.

Form 8938 is filed with your Form 1040 individual income tax filing.  Entities are not required to file Form 8938.   Congress mandated the filing of Form 8938 beginning with the 2011 tax year.

There is a stiff  penalty for failing to file Form 8938 with your Form 1040 tax return.  You may be subject to a $10,000 civil penalty for non-filing.  If you receive a failure-to-file notice from the IRS for Form 8938, the penalty can rise to as high as $50,000 for continued delays in filing.  But be encouraged that we have not yet seen the US Treasury Department impose the $10,000 penalty on delinquent Forms 8938 if you are proactive and get them filed before they contact you.  We can help you with this.  If you retain us to help, we will amend your Forms 1040 back to 2011 if necessary to include the missing Forms 8938.

Please see our separate article titled, I have a foreign bank account. Do I have to file an FBAR, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts?

For a comparison of Form 8938 and FBAR, please go to: