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New Compliance Campaign - IRS Going after Non-US Trusts

Non-US Trusts Become New IRS Target 

Source: IRS compliance campaign

This campaign will take a multifaceted approach to improving compliance with respect to the timely and accurate filing of information returns reporting ownership of and transactions with foreign trusts. The Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams including, but not limited to, examinations and penalties assessed by the campus when the forms are received late or are incomplete.  

Who is affected

The taxpayers primarily affected by the campaign are US owners of non-US trusts with the trust tax year ending before the end of the calendar year. 

According to the instructions to Form 3520-A, the form must be filed by the 15th day of the 3rd month after the end of the trust's tax year. The timing of filing Form 3520 Annual Return To Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts is inconsistent with the above instructions:

The U.S. beneficiary and U.S. owner's tax return must be consistent with the Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner, filed by the foreign trust unless you report the inconsistency to the IRS - Page 2


In order to preserve consistency and accuracy in reporting transactions with the foreign trust, as well as transferring income resulting from the transactions to the personal tax return, Form 3520-A year was commonly filed in conjunction with Form 3520 and the individual tax return Form 1040. The Form 3520 which reported transactions from the foreign trust was an integral part of Form 3520-A.

Even taxpayers who have been filing Form 3520-A consistently in conjunction with the Form 3520 (i.e. the following year, when the individual federal tax return was due), are now at risk of IRS penalties for late filing at 5% of the gross value of the trust's assets owned by the U.S. person at the close of that tax year.

Recommended steps & action plan

Going forward - 3520-A must be filed no later than 2.5 months after the end of the trust tax year. Extensions are possible.

  1. Form 3520-A is due by April 15th, and the deadline can extended by the same mechanism as Form 1040.
  2. Form 3520-A for 2019 trust year has to be filed no later than 2 ½ months after the end of the trust tax year- i.e. in the middle of 2019, long before your personal tax return for 2019 will be filed.  
  3. You may request a 6 months extension to file the 2019 trust return. The due date for submission of the extension is the same as the due date to file form 3520-A (i.e. 2 1/2 months after the end of the trust tax year). If your extension request is received after that date, we will be unable to file an extension request for you. In order to request an extension, the trust must have an EIN. 
Ines Zemelman, EA
Founder of TFX