In Uncategorized on 10/07/2011 at 13:55

Some of us have been on a LinkedIn message board discussing the new Form 8938, and its interface with Treasury 90-22.1. That’s the foreign financial account reporting stuff. For a little background, see my post “Frequently Asked Questions”, 7/22/11.

The issue is whether certain holdings in offshore private equity funds and hedge funds are or are not reportable on the Form 8938, but not on the Treasury 90-22.1, or vice versa. Why there should be any difference between what is reported on the two forms, or even why there should be two forms, filed in different places and with different rules, is another story.

And since the $10,000-at-any-time threshold is not so high as to preclude ordinary people from being enmeshed in the foreign financial account spiderweb, it is germane to the in-the-trenches preparer.

And if the experts aren’t sure what to include or exclude, what is that in-the-trenches preparer to do, but throw in everything, required or not?

One can but hope that preparing a single form, with one set of rules and penalties, filed in one place at one time, is not beyond the combined resources of Messrs. Geithner and Shulman.

There is an old story of Lord Melbourne, Prime Minister under Queen Victoria in the mid-Nineteenth Century, at the end of a Cabinet Council, putting his back against the door and saying to his colleagues before they separated—”Now, gentlemen, are we agreed that a sliding scale lowers or raises the price of corn? I do not care myself twopence which it is, but let us all have the same story.”

So may I presume to address Lord Melbourne’s old suggestion to our esteemed Secretary of the Treasury and equally esteemed Commissioner of Internal Revenue: “I do not care myself tuppence which it is, but let us all have the same story.”

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