Report Gifts from Foreign Persons to the IRS

Gifts from Foreign Person: The Reporting Gifts From Foreign Persons to IRS (more accurately, the failure to do so) is big business for the IRS. When a U.S. person receives a gift from a foreign person (including inheritance), the U.S. person may have a “3520” offshore reporting requirement.

In addition, depending on the type and nature of the gift, the person may have additional reporting requirements, such as FBAR (FinCEN Form 114) and FATCA (Form 8938 for Individuals). The IRS aggressively enforces Foreign trusts and accounts compliance. Non-compliant U.S. persons may consider filing for tax amnesty – collective referred to as voluntary disclosure.

We will summarize the tax rules involving Reporting Gifts From Foreign Persons to the IRS, and when it is required.

The Basics of Reporting Foreign Gifts

The Reporting Gifts From Foreign Persons rules can be complex. In a very typical situation that we handle, foreign parents who live abroad (non-U.S. persons) will gift money to their child in the U.S. The child may have U.S. person status and/or be on F-1 visa (but past the 5-year grace period). As a result, the person is technically a U.S. person receiving a gift from a foreign person.

*The rules apply specifically to gifts from foreign persons and not necessarily foreign property.

The IRS Wants to Know

There are several reasons why the IRS tracks the receipt of gifts from foreign persons. But. the main reason is because foreign nationals without U.S. status are not subject to U.S. tax or reporting. In contrast, when a U.S. person gifts money or property, they are subject to U.S. estate tax rules. As a result, the person giving the gift files a gift tax return.

Conversely, the U.S. has no tax authority over the foreign person. Therefore, the IRS requires the recipient U.S. person to file a form 3520 to report the gift.

Who Reports Foreign Gift to the IRS?

The U.S. person has to report the foreign gift. Whether or not the U.S. person resides in the U.S. or overseas, does not impact the reporting requirement.

Reporting Threshold Requirements

The reporting threshold requirements differ between the Foreign Entities and Foreign Individuals.


The threshold is “more than $100,000 in a single gift, or series of gifts from a foreign individual in a single tax year” when the donor is a foreign individual.


The threshold is “more than $16,388 in a single gift, or series of gifts from a foreign individual in a single tax year” when the donor is a foreign business.

Foreign Individual vs. Foreign Entity

If the foreign person wants to gift money, but keep their information away from the IRS prying eyes, it is important to note when a foreign entity gives the  gift – the name of the person giving the gift is required – but if the gift is from a foreign individual, the name is not required.

What if I do Not Report the Foreign Gift?

The IRS may issue (extensive) fines and penalties – which may be “automatically assessed.”

What are the Penalties?

The IRS penalties for Form 3520 may vary

Section 6677

A penalty applies if Form 3520 is not timely filed or if the information is incomplete or incorrect (see below for an exception if there is reasonable cause). Generally, the initial penalty is equal to the greater of $10,000 or the following (as applicable).

  • 35% of the gross value of any property transferred to a foreign trust for failure by a U.S. transferor to report the creation of or transfer to a foreign trust in Part I.
  • 35% of the gross value of the distributions received from a foreign trust for failure by a U.S. person to report receipt of the distribution in Part III.
  • 5% of the gross value of the portion of the foreign trust’s assets treated as owned by a U.S. person under the grantor trust rules (sections 671 through 679) for failure by the U.S. person to report the U.S. owner information in Part II. .
  • Such U.S. person is subject to an additional separate 5% penalty (or $10,000 if greater), if such person
    • (a) fails to ensure that the foreign trust files a timely Form 3520-A and furnishes the required annual statements to its U.S. owners and U.S. beneficiaries, or
    • (b) does not furnish all of the information required by section 6048(b) or includes incorrect information. If a foreign trust fails to file Form 3520-A, the U.S. owner must complete and attach a substitute Form 3520-A to the U.S. owner’s Form 3520. See section 6677(a) through (c) and the Instructions for Part II of this form and Form 3520-A. Additional penalties will be imposed if the noncompliance continues for more than 90 days after IRS mails a notice of failure to comply with the required reporting. For more information, see section 6677.

How do I Avoid these Penalties?

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure & Streamlined Filing Procedures are two common options for compliance.

We Specialize in Streamlined & Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

Our firm specializes exclusively in international tax, and specifically IRS offshore disclosure

We are the “go-to” firm for other Attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Accountants, and Financial Professionals across the globe. Our attorneys have worked with thousands of clients on offshore disclosure matters, including FATCA & FBAR.

Each case is led by a Board-Certified Tax Law Specialist with 20-years experience, and the entire matter (tax and legal) is handled by our team, in-house.

*Please beware of copycat tax and law firms misleading the public about their credentials and experience.

Less than 1% of Tax Attorneys Nationwide Are Certified Specialists

Our lead attorney is one of less than 350 Attorneys (out of more than 200,000 practicing California Attorneys) to earn the Certified Tax Law Specialist credential. The credential is awarded to less than 1% of Attorneys.

Recent Case Highlights

  • We represented a client in an 8-figure disclosure that spanned 7 countries.
  • We represented a high-net-worth client to facilitate a complex expatriation with offshore disclosure.
  • We represented an overseas family with bringing multiple businesses & personal investments into U.S. tax and offshore compliance.
  • We took over a case from a small firm that unsuccessfully submitted multiple clients to IRS Offshore Disclosure.
  • We successfully completed several recent disclosures for clients with assets ranging from $50,000 – $7,000,000+.

How to Hire Experienced Offshore Counsel?

Generally, experienced attorneys in this field will have the following credentials/experience:

  • 20-years experience as a practicing attorney
  • Extensive litigation, high-stakes audit and trial experience
  • Board Certified Tax Law Specialist credential
  • Master’s of Tax Law (LL.M.)
  • Dually Licensed as an EA (Enrolled Agent) or CPA

Interested in Learning More about our Firm?

No matter where in the world you reside, our international tax team can get you IRS offshore compliant.

We specialize in FBAR and FATCA. Contact our firm today for assistance with getting compliant.

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