5 Things You Should Know About IRS Form 8865

form 8865

If you own at least 10% of a controlled foreign partnership, you may be required to file Form 8865. But what is Form 8865—and how does it work? Here are the answers to all your questions.

What Is Form 8865?

Form 8865 lets US partners in a controlled foreign partnership report their tax information to the IRS as required by the following IRC sections:

This information will be similar to IRS forms 1065 and 5471.

Who Needs to File Form 8865?

Any US person with at least 10% interest in a controlled foreign partnership must file Form 8865. So what is a “controlled foreign partnership?”

A controlled foreign partnership means that more than 50% of a foreign partnership is owned by one or more US persons.

For example, if a US expat owns more than 55% of a partnership in Costa Rica, then that partnership would qualify as a controlled foreign partnership.

Alternatively, let’s say three US expats are partners in a business in Portugal. Each has a 20% interest in the partnership. Combined, these three US persons own 60% of the business, meaning that this would also qualify as a controlled foreign partnership.

In both cases, the US persons involved would have to file Form 8865.

This also applies to other foreign business entities electing to be taxed as partnerships, such as an LLC with multiple members.

How Do You File Form 8865?

There are several filing categories that US partners may fall under, and your category will determine what sections of IRS Form 8865 you’re required to complete.

Everyone will have to fill out their identifying information at the start of Form 8865. But beyond this, there are a number of “schedules” that you may or may not have to complete depending on what category you’re in. Some of these schedules are included within Form 8865 itself, while others are separate, and will need to be attached to your finished form.

Below are the categories for US persons required to file Form 8865:

Category 1

If a single US person owns more than 50% of a controlled foreign partnership, they are a Category 1 filer.

Generally, Category 1 filers must complete these schedules:

  • Schedule A: Constructive Ownership of Partnership Interest
  • Schedule A-1: Certain Partners of Foreign Partnership
  • Schedule A-3: Affiliation Schedule
  • Schedule B: Income Statement—Trade or Business Income
  • Schedule G: Statement of Application of the Gain Deferral Method Under Section 721
  • Schedule H: Acceleration Events and Exceptions Reporting Relating to Gain Deferral Method Under Section 721
  • Schedule K: Partners’ Distributive Share Items
  • Schedule L: Balance Sheets per Books
  • Schedule M: Balance Sheets for Interest Allocation
  • Schedule M-1: Reconciliation of Income (Loss) per Books With Income (Loss) per Return
  • Schedule M-2: Analysis of Partners’ Capital Accounts
  • Schedule N: Transactions Between Controlled Foreign Partnership and Partners or Other Related Entities
  • Schedule D: (Form 1065) Capital Gains and Losses
  • Schedule K-1: Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.

Category 2

If a US person owns at least 10% of a controlled foreign partnership, they are a Category 2 filer. (However, if any partner qualifies as a Category 1 filer during the tax year in question, no one will be considered a Category 2 filer.)

Generally, Category 2 filers must complete these schedules:

  • Schedule A: Constructive Ownership of Partnership Interest
  • Schedule A-3: Affiliation Schedule
  • Schedule N: Transactions Between Controlled Foreign Partnership and Partners or Other Related Entities
  • Schedule K-1: Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.

Category 3

If a US person contributes at least $100,000 to a controlled foreign partnership—or if they own at least 10% of the partnership after their contribution—they are a Category 3 filer.

Generally, Category 3 filers must complete these schedules:

  • Schedule A: Constructive Ownership of Partnership Interest
  • Schedule A-1: Certain Partners of Foreign Partnership
  • Schedule A-3: Affiliation Schedule
  • Schedule G: Statement of Application of the Gain Deferral Method Under Section 721
  • Schedule H: Acceleration Events and Exceptions Reporting Relating to Gain Deferral Method Under Section 721
  • Schedule O: Transfer of Property to a Foreign Partnership

Category 4 Filer

If a US person had a reportable transaction under IRC Section 6046A during a calendar year, they are a Category 4 filer. These reportable transactions may be acquisitions, dispositions, or changes in proportional interest.

An acquisition means that you owned less than 10% of the partnership previously, then raised your interest to 10% or higher through a purchase or inheritance. For example, if you had 7% interest in a controlled foreign partnership, then purchased 4% more interest, leaving you with 11% interest, that would qualify as an acquisition.

A disposition means that you owned at least 10% of the partnership, then disposed of some portion of your interest, bringing your total ownership below 10%. For example, if you owned 13% of a controlled foreign partnership, then sold 5%, leaving you with 8% total, that would qualify as a disposition.

A change in proportional interest means that compared to your last reported interest in the partnership, your ownership went up or down by at least 10% of the total interest. For example, if you previously owned 25% of the controlled foreign partnership, then sold 14%, leaving you with 11% ownership, that would qualify as a change in proportional interest. Alternatively, if you purchased 14% interest, bringing you to 39% ownership, that would also qualify.

In any of these cases, you would be considered a Category 4 filer.

Generally, Category 4 filers must complete these schedules:

  • Schedule A: Constructive Ownership of Partnership Interest
  • Schedule A-3: Affiliation Schedule
  • Schedule G: Statement of Application of the Gain Deferral Method Under Section 721
  • Schedule H: Acceleration Events and Exceptions Reporting Relating to Gain Deferral Method Under Section 721
  • Schedule P: Acquisitions, Dispositions, and Changes of Interests in a Foreign Partnership

This is only a general overview of the categories and requirements involved in filing Form 8865. For more information, please see the Form 8865 instructions provided by the IRS.

When Is Form 8865 Due?

Form 8865 is due at the same time as your individual income tax return. For most taxpayers, this will be April 15. However, if your tax filing deadline is extended for any reason, the deadline for Form 8865 will also be extended.

Once you’ve prepared your Form 8865, simply attach it to your individual income tax return, along with any necessary schedules. (Or, if applicable, attach it to your partnership or exempt organization return.)

If you aren’t required to file an individual tax return (or partnership or exempt organization return), you’ll still have to file Form 8865 by the due date for that return.

What Happens If You Don’t File Form 8865 on Time?

Failing to file Form 8865 on time can have dire consequences. The severity will depend on which filing category you’re in.

Categories 1 and 2

If you’re a Category 1 or 2 filer, the IRS may impose a $10,000 fine for every tax year you fail to file Form 8865 on time. Once they’ve mailed a notice of the failure to you, you’ll have 90 days to file the requisite forms. If you miss that deadline, the IRS will charge an additional $10,000 for every 30 days after the 90 days have expired, up to a maximum amount of $50,000 in additional penalties.

There may also be reductions in the foreign taxes available for credit, and in the case of false or fraudulent information, you could be subject to criminal penalties.

For more details, see the IRS instructions for Form 8865.

Category 3

If you’re a Category 3 filer and fail to file on time, the IRS may impose a fine up to 10% of the value of your contribution to the controlled foreign partnership, up to a maximum amount of $100,000. (Though if the failure to report is due to intentional disregard, this limit will not apply.)

For more, see the IRS instructions for Form 8865.

Category 4

If you’re a Category 4 filer, the penalties will largely be the same as those for a Category 1 or 2 filer.

For more, see the IRS instructions for Form 8865.

Get Expert Help With Your Expat Taxes

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of Form 8865. If you’d like some more help, however, we’d be happy to lend a hand.

At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we have years of experience helping expats around the globe take care of their US tax obligations, no matter how complex they may be.

Contact us to get started on your expat tax return today.