Skip to Content

IRS guidance provides reporting exemption for certain foreign trusts

March 3, 2020 Article 3 min read
Denise Greenway Kasia Borowicz
With Rev. Proc. 2020-17, the IRS issued guidance that exempts certain U.S. citizens and residents from certain information reporting requirements for some foreign trusts.
professionals collaborating in open environmentThe IRS has issued guidance that:
  • Exempts certain U.S. citizens and residents from Code Sec. 6048 information reporting requirements for their transactions with, and ownership of, certain tax-favored foreign retirement trusts and foreign nonretirement savings trusts; and
  • Establishes procedures for these individuals to request abatement or refund of penalties assessed or paid under Code Sec. 6677 for failing to comply with the information reporting requirements.

The guidance is effective as of the date the revenue procedure is published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, and applies to all prior open tax years, subject to the limitations under Code Sec. 6511.

Information reporting on foreign trusts

Code Sec. 6048 generally requires annual information reporting of a U.S. person’s transfers of money or other property to, ownership of, and distributions from, foreign trusts. Reporting is not required, however, for transactions with foreign compensatory trusts described in Code Secs. 402(b), 404(a)(4), or 404A. Further, the IRS is authorized to suspend or modify any Code Sec. 6048 reporting requirement if the United States has no significant tax interest in obtaining the required information.

The Treasury Department and IRS have determined that U.S. individuals should be exempt from the Code Sec. 6048 reporting requirement for certain tax-favored foreign trusts.

Reporting relief

The Treasury Department and IRS have determined that U.S. individuals should be exempt from the Code Sec. 6048 reporting requirement for certain tax-favored foreign trusts because:

  • The trusts are generally subject to written restrictions (e.g., contribution limitations, conditions for withdrawal, and information reporting) by the laws of the country where the trust is established; and
  • U.S. individuals with an interest in these trusts may be required by Code Sec. 6038D to separately report information about their interests in accounts held by or through the trusts.

A foreign trust covered by this guidance is a trust established under a foreign jurisdiction’s law to operate exclusively or almost exclusively to provide, or earn income for the provision of, either pension or retirement benefits and ancillary or incidental benefits (i.e., a foreign retirement trust), or medical, disability, or educational benefits (i.e., a foreign nonretirement savings trust). To be eligible for coverage, the foreign trust must meet other requirements listed in the guidance that have been established by the laws of the trust’s jurisdiction.

An eligible individual:

  • Must be compliant with all requirements for filing a U.S. federal income tax return for the period he or she was a U.S. citizen or resident, and;
  • To the extent required by U.S. tax law, must have reported as income any contributions to, earnings of, or distributions from, an applicable tax-favored foreign trust on the return or an amended return.

Penalty relief

Eligible individuals who have been assessed a penalty for failing to comply with Code Sec. 6048 for an applicable tax-favored foreign trust and want relief must complete Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. The individual must write “Relief pursuant to Revenue Procedure 2020-17” on Line 7 of the form, and include an explanation of how the individual and the foreign trust meet the requirements set forth in the guidance. The form should be mailed to Internal Revenue Service, Ogden, UT 84201-0027.


This guidance does not affect:

  • Any reporting obligations under Code Sec. 6038D or any other provision of U.S. law, including the requirement to file FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR); or
  • Previously issued guidance providing an exception from reporting for distributions from certain foreign compensatory trusts (Section V of Notice 97-34, 1997-1 C.B. 422), and an exception from information reporting requirements for certain Canadian retirement plans (Rev. Proc. 2014-55, I.R.B. 2014-44, 753).

Proposed regs

The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to issue proposed regulations that would modify the information reporting requirements to exclude eligible individuals’ transactions with, or ownership of, applicable tax-favored foreign trusts. The Treasury and IRS request comments about these and other similar types of foreign trusts that should be considered for an exemption from Code Sec. 6048 reporting.

The information provided in this alert is only a general summary and is being distributed with the understanding that Plante & Moran, PLLC, is not rendering legal, tax, accounting, or other professional advice, position, or opinions on specific facts or matters and, accordingly, assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with its use.

©2020 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Related Thinking

Two tax professionals looking at a mobile phone and walking up stairs.
February 8, 2024

India tax change: Royalty and FTS withholding rates increased

Article 3 min read
Business professionals researching and learning about international tax updates.
December 14, 2023

International updates: Tax news and other global updates for Q4 2023

Article 9 min read
Business professionals attending Plante Moran's webinar CPE sessions to help their organizations kickstart year-end planning.
Nov. 29-Dec. 12, 2023

2023 Year-End Webinar Series

Webinar 6 hour watch