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When Junior Has A Foreign Bank Account: What’s To Be Expected!

Manasa Nadig

I looked up my last blog post and realized I have not posted here since January! What a tax season it was, and how did time get away from me? Oh wait…I know how!

The past few years have seen a steady growth of a client base that has foreign accounts: no complaints there! Most clients have very routine FBAR filing requirements but then sometimes things are a little out of the ordinary and that gets me all excited…yes, I does! That either tells you about my lack of a life during tax season or we should just notch it up to tax nerd-iness!

As you see, one family that came to see us had a letter from a foreign bank under FATCA regulations. The name on the account was theirson’s, who is a minor. For all these years, the account had been forgotten because the parents never thought that it figured into any calculations.

A parent might open an account for their child in their home country for many reasons: to cover higher education, gifts from relatives, holiday funds, and so on. And at some point, if the parents and the children move to the US and become “US persons” for tax purposes, which can happen if they have substantive presence in the US/get a Green Card/become US citizens, they can trigger an information-reporting requirement if the financial account balance crosses reporting thresholds.

There are U.S. Income Tax rules if a parent/a caregiver elects to include the investment income of a child/dependent on their own tax return. This is done by filing Form 8814 with the parent’s tax return. This may reduce the burden of having to file separate FBARs and/Form 8938 for the child. However, this is possible only if ALL of the following are true:

  • The child was under 19 years of age or under 24 AND a full time student.
  • The child only had investment/passive income and no earned income.
  • The child’s gross income was < $10,500.
  • The child would have been required to file a Form 1040 if the parent had not elected to include his income on their tax return.
  • The child does not file jointly. The child did not make estimated payments for the year.
  • No tax over-payment has been applied from a previous year to the child.
  • No federal income tax has been withheld under the child’s name.

Alternatively, if the parent is ineligible to or unwilling to make the above election, the child will have to file a Form 1040 and enclose a Form 8615.

Hence, if the foreign financial account balances cross reporting thresholds, the parent filing a Form 8814 of such a child needs to, or in the second case, where the child is reporting filing the Form 1040 with a Form 8615 enclosed:

  1. Report the income from such accounts on Form 1040.
  2. Check the box “Yes” on Schedule B to form 1040 to the presence of foreign financial accounts and disclose the existence & location of the foreign account.
  3. Enclose Form 8938 if need be.

Now, all of the above would apply to form 1040 and the accompanying schedules & forms such as the Schedule B and Form 8938.

But what about the FBAR?

The online instructions for the FBAR rules for children were updated in June 2014. Irrespective of how the child’s investment income is reported on the Form 1040 either by the child or the parent, the FBAR needs to be filed in the child’s name.

Quoting from the online instructions from the FinCEN,

Responsibility for child’s FBAR:
Generally, a child is responsible for filing his or her own FBAR report. If a child cannot file his or her own FBAR for any reason, such as age, the child’s parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person must file it for the child.

Signing the child’s FBAR:

If the child cannot sign his or her FBAR, a parent or guardian must electronically sign the child’s FBAR. In item 45 Filer Title enter “Parent/Guardian filing for child.”

Please see an Enrolled Agent or a tax professional specializing in foreign bank accounts if you have questions regarding the above or if any of that applies to you.


I am Manasa Nadig, enrolled to practice and represent taxpayers with the Internal Revenue Service. I have been in the business of Tax Preparation & Tax Planning since 1999. My firm, MN Tax Solutions, LLC is based in Michigan, USA. Please connect with me on TaxConnections for more information about myself & the services provided by my firm.

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