Section 6048 requires US taxpayers to make an annual report regarding financial or asset transfers in relation to the receipt of distributions from foreign trusts. Taxpayers can be penalised if they fail to comply. Unfortunately many taxpayers have been caught out when it comes to reporting foreign retirement investments and other trusts.
On March 2nd 2020 the IRS released Rev. Proc. 202-17. This change comes into effect on March 16 and provides taxpayers with certain foreign investments with an exemption from section 6048 reporting requirements on those investments. Accordingly, eligible US citizens with some tax favored foreign retirement investments and other trusts, have less duties in their reporting requirements. Furthermore, eligible individuals can now apply for a refund of any penalties that they have incurred as a result of section 6048 reporting requirements with their applicable tax-favored foreign trusts.
The reason behind the change is that there are already a number of restrictions imposed by the countries where those trusts are located and there are already additional reporting requirements in the US under section 6038D regarding interests in these trusts. This alleviates the pressure of being penalized for meeting the section 6048 reporting requirements and reverses the penalties previously imposed in such cases.
Once the change comes into place it will apply to any prior tax year that is still open.
One of the reasons this relief is important is because it covers a requirement that many taxpayers and tax professionals haven’t realized was in place. This is because people tended to assume that the tax and reporting requirements were deferred until the point of retirement and they didn’t understand which international information reporting forms were to be used. Alleviating this reporting requirement will help reduce a lot of confusion in the field.
If you have a foreign retirement or trust investment that may qualify you should look into Rev. Proc. 2020-17 or seek further advice for your specific situation.