One of the latest tax buzzwords is "offshore accounts," as the IRS has begun taking a closer look at the foreign holdings of American citizens. During the transitional tax year of 2011, only certain taxpayers had to make foreign disclosures to the IRS. As of 2012 and beyond, all taxpayers who meet the minimum threshold, which varies by tax-filing and residence status, must comply.
"If your overseas assets don't exceed $50,000, you don't have to worry about the new rules," says Gonzalez. "Above that amount, check the IRS reporting limits, which may change from year to year in the future."
For U.S. residents, you have to file information about your foreign holdings if they exceed $50,000 at year-end, if you're a single filer. Foreign holdings exceeding $75,000 at any time during the year must also be reported. For joint filers, the limits rise to $150,000 at any time, and $75,000 at year-end.
For U.S. citizens living abroad, the reporting limits rise dramatically. Single filers need only report accounts exceeding $200,000 at year-end, or $300,000 at any point during the year. For joint filers, the limits are $400,000 at year-end, or $600,000 at any time during the year.
The above requirements for filing Form 8938 do not take the place of the obligation to file an FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report, Treasury Form TD F 90-22.1) to report a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account.