June 9


IRS Form 3520. Reporting Foreign Trusts, Inheritances, and Gifts

By Jason Kovan

June 9, 2023

Form 3520, Form 3520-A, International Tax Attorney

Reporting Foreign Trusts, Inheritances, and Gifts: Understanding IRS Form 3520 and the Benefits of Hiring an International Tax Attorney

When it comes to managing international finances and assets, it's crucial to navigate the complex tax regulations properly.

In this article, we will delve into the details of IRS Form 3520, which is used for reporting foreign trusts, inheritances, and gifts.

We will also highlight why hiring an international tax attorney is essential to ensure compliance and avoid penalties.

So, let's explore the key aspects of Form 3520 and its significance for individuals with international financial interests.

This article explains the IRS Form 3520, which is used to report foreign gifts, inheritances, and trust distributions.

The complexity of the form varies, being simpler for cash gifts and more complex when foreign trusts are involved. The IRS takes compliance with this form seriously and has increased penalties for non-compliance.

Form 3520 is typically filed by individuals who are responsible for reporting a significant event that occurred in the current tax year, U.S. persons who transferred property to a related foreign trust, and U.S. persons who are treated as the owner of any part of the assets of a foreign trust.

There are exceptions to filing this form, such as certain transfers to foreign trusts, most fair market value transfers by a U.S. person to a foreign trust, and transfers to foreign trusts that have a current determination letter from the IRS recognizing their status as exempt from income taxation under section 501(c)(3).

Form 3520 is usually due on April 15th, or June 15th for U.S. citizens or residents who live outside of the United States and Puerto Rico or are in the military or naval service on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico.

If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the form should be filed by the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

The Importance of Hiring an International Tax Attorney

Navigating the intricate landscape of international tax laws and reporting requirements can be challenging for individuals.

Here's why seeking the guidance of an international tax attorney is highly recommended:

Expertise in International Tax Matters

International tax attorneys specialize in the complexities of cross-border transactions and taxation. They possess in-depth knowledge of international tax laws, treaties, and reporting requirements.

By hiring an attorney experienced in international tax matters, you gain access to their expertise and ensure compliance with the ever-evolving regulations.

Guidance and Compliance

An international tax attorney will guide you through the process of filing Form 3520 accurately. They will help you understand the reporting obligations, determine the relevant thresholds, and ensure that all necessary information is provided.

Their assistance minimizes the risk of errors or omissions, reducing the likelihood of IRS scrutiny and penalties.

Penalty Avoidance

Failure to file Form 3520 or filing it incorrectly can result in significant penalties. The IRS imposes severe penalties for non-compliance, including substantial monetary fines.

An international tax attorney will help you navigate the complexities of the form, minimize potential errors, and ensure timely and accurate filing, thereby avoiding penalties.

Form 3520 and Form 3520-A: IRS Form 3520 Made Easy: Reporting Foreign Gifts and Trusts

Are you a U.S. citizen who has received a gift or inheritance from abroad? Maybe you've dealt with a foreign trust? If so, you'll need to know about IRS Form 3520.

It's the form you use to report these transactions to Uncle Sam. But don't worry, it's not always as complex as it sounds.

Reporting a cash gift from a kind aunt in Paris? That's pretty straightforward. However, if you're dealing with foreign trusts, things can get a bit more complicated. Just remember, the IRS is keeping a close eye on this, so it's important to get it right.

In certain cases, when dealing with foreign trusts, both Form 3520 and Form 3520-A may be required. Form 3520-A provides information about the foreign trust, its beneficiaries, and its U.S. owners.

It is essential to understand the interplay between these two forms and ensure proper filing to avoid penalties.

Understanding IRS Form 3520

IRS Form 3520 is a reporting requirement imposed on U.S. taxpayers who receive foreign gifts, inheritances, or distributions from foreign trusts.

It serves as an informational return, providing the IRS with details about these transactions. Filing this form is crucial to comply with tax laws and avoid potential penalties. Here are some important aspects to consider:

Reporting Foreign Gifts and Inheritances

Receiving gifts or inheritances from abroad can have tax implications. It's important to report these transactions on Form 3520 to provide the IRS with a comprehensive overview of your financial activities.

By accurately reporting foreign gifts and inheritances, you demonstrate transparency and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Form 3520

To provide further clarity on IRS Form 3520 and address common queries, let's address some frequently asked questions:

How do I mail Form 3520 to the IRS?

To submit Form 3520, you should mail it to the address provided in the form's instructions. It is recommended to use certified mail or a reputable courier service for tracking purposes.

Do I Need to File Form 3520 With My Tax Return?

Form 3520 is separate from your annual income tax return. It has its own filing deadline, and you should submit it independently, even if you are not required to file an income tax return for that particular year.

Where Do I File Form 3520?

The filing address for Form 3520 is typically the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center in Ogden, Utah.

However, it is essential to refer to the latest instructions or consult with an international tax attorney for any changes or specific instructions.

What Is The IRS Penalty For Filing Form 3520?

The penalties for non-compliance with Form 3520 can be substantial. The IRS can impose penalties of up to 35% of the gross value of the gifts or distributions, with additional penalties for failure to timely file or accurate disclosure.

How To File IRS Form 3520 Online?

Currently, the IRS does not offer an online filing option for Form 3520. The form must be completed manually and submitted by mail to the designated IRS address.

How To File IRS Form 3520 PDF?

To obtain a copy of IRS Form 3520 in PDF format, you can visit the official IRS website and search for "Form 3520" or click here. The form can be downloaded, filled out electronically or by hand, and then printed for mailing to the IRS.

Form 3520 Instructions

The instructions for completing Form 3520 can be found on the IRS website. The instructions provide guidance on the information to be reported, filing deadlines, and where to mail the completed form.

It is important to review the instructions carefully to ensure accurate and timely filing.

Form 3520 Example

While the IRS does not provide specific examples of completed Form 3520, the instructions do contain detailed explanations and illustrations for each section of the form.

These examples can help taxpayers understand the required information and how to report it accurately.

Can I File Form 3520 Electronically?

As of the current guidelines, Form 3520 cannot be filed electronically. It must be printed, signed, and mailed to the designated IRS address. Electronic filing options are not available for this particular form.

Form 3520 Foreign Gift

Form 3520 is used to report foreign gifts, including money or property received from non-U.S. individuals or entities.

It is essential to disclose the details of such foreign gifts, including the donor's information, the nature of the gift, and its value, to ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Filing Deadline for Form 3520

So, when's the deadline for this form? For most people, it's April 15th. However, if you're a U.S. citizen or resident living or serving in the military outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, you have until June 15th.

And if the deadline falls on a weekend or public holiday, you can breathe easy - you've got until the next business day to file it.

Form 3520 Extension

The IRS allows for an extension of time to file Form 3520 if you are unable to meet the original deadline. To request an extension, you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic

Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, before the Form 3520 due date.

It is important to note that this extension only applies to the filing of Form 3520, not to any tax payments that may be due.

If a U.S. person is granted an extension of time to file an income tax return, the due date for filing Form 3520 is the 15th day of the 10th month (October 15) following the end of the U.S. person’s tax year.

IRS Form 8938

IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, is a separate reporting requirement for U.S. taxpayers with certain foreign financial assets that exceed specific thresholds.

While Form 3520 focuses on gifts, inheritances, and distributions from foreign trusts, Form 8938 requires reporting on a broader range of foreign financial assets.

It is important to understand the distinctions between these two forms and fulfill the reporting obligations accordingly.

The IRS States Under Specific Instructions FYE 2022 Item C - Excepted Specified Foreign Financial Assets Reported

Check the box in item C only if the Form 3520 filer also files Form 8938 for the tax year and includes this form in the total number of Forms 3520 reported on line 15 of Part IV, Excepted Specified Foreign Financial Assets, of Form 8938.

For more information, see the Instructions for Form 8938, generally, and in particular, Duplicative reporting and the specific instructions for Part IV.

By addressing these additional frequently asked questions, we provide comprehensive information about IRS Form 3520, covering various aspects of filing, instructions, examples, and related forms.

This knowledge will assist individuals in fulfilling their reporting obligations and understanding the complexities of reporting foreign trusts, inheritances, and gifts accurately.

Who Should File Form 3520?

So, who needs to fill out this form? Essentially, it's people who:

  1. Have had a significant financial event during the tax year that needs reporting, or
  2. Transferred property, including cash, to a related foreign trust, or
  3. Are seen as the owner of any assets of a foreign trust.
  4. Don't worry if you're not sure what all this means. The form will guide you through it.

When You Don't Need to File Form 3520?

Not everyone who has dealt with foreign gifts or trusts needs to file Form 3520. There are some exceptions. For example, you might be off the hook if:

  1. You made certain kinds of transfers to foreign trusts.
  2. You made a fair market value transfer to a foreign trust (although there are exceptions to this too).
  3. You transferred to foreign trusts that are officially recognized by the IRS as being exempt from income tax (like charities under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code).


Reporting foreign trusts, inheritances, and gifts through IRS Form 3520 is a crucial obligation for U.S. taxpayers.

To navigate the complexities and ensure compliance, it is highly recommended to hire an international tax attorney

Their expertise, guidance, and commitment to compliance will help you fulfill your reporting obligations accurately and minimize the risk of penalties.

By understanding the importance of Form 3520 and seeking professional assistance, you can confidently manage your international financial affairs while staying on the right side of the law.

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