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Form 3520-A: EIN Number

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Form 3520-A: EIN Number

U.S. persons involved with foreign trusts face unique reporting obligations. One critical aspect of these obligations is the requirement to file Form 3520-A, which necessitates obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the 3520-A EIN number, including its definition, relevant regulations, the process for obtaining an EIN and the circumstances under which it is required.

Form 3520-A serves as the Annual Information Return of a Foreign Trust with a U.S. Owner. This form is crucial for ensuring that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) receives all necessary information about foreign trusts with U.S. owners, their U.S. beneficiaries and any U.S. persons considered owners of any portion of these trusts under the grantor trust rules. The EIN, a unique identifier assigned by the IRS, is essential for the accurate and efficient processing of this form.

The regulations governing the requirement to file Form 3520-A are detailed in section 6048(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). These regulations ensure transparency and compliance with U.S. tax laws, providing the IRS with detailed information about foreign trusts to monitor potential tax liabilities and enforce reporting requirements. The IRS continuously updates these regulations, reflecting the latest legislative changes, to ensure comprehensive compliance and up-to-date reporting​​.

Deciding whether an EIN is required involves understanding the specific conditions under which a foreign trust must comply with U.S. reporting requirements. Generally, any foreign trust with a U.S. owner is mandated to obtain an EIN to file Form 3520-A. A U.S. owner, as defined by the grantor trust rules, includes any U.S. person treated as owning any part of the trust. Obtaining an EIN involves completing and submitting Form SS-4 to the IRS, a process that can be done online for expedited processing​​.

What is a 3520-A EIN Number?

Form 3520-A is the Annual Information Return of a Foreign Trust with a U.S. Owner. It is used to provide information about the foreign trust, its U.S. beneficiaries and any U.S. person who is treated as an owner of any portion of the foreign trust under the grantor trust rules (sections 671 through 679 of the IRC). The EIN is a unique identifier assigned by the IRS to the foreign trust, which is required to file Form 3520-A.

Governing Laws and Regulations

The requirement to file Form 3520-A is primarily governed by section 6048(b) of the IRC. This section mandates that a foreign trust with a U.S. owner must file an annual information return. The regulations are detailed in the IRS instructions for Form 3520-A and are continuously updated to reflect new legislative changes. Notably, recent updates can be found on the IRS website, which provides the most current instructions and requirements for filing Form 3520-A​​.

Determining the Need for an EIN

A foreign trust must obtain an EIN if it has at least one U.S. owner. The EIN is necessary for filing Form 3520-A, as well as for other IRS-related filings and correspondences. A U.S. owner is defined under the grantor trust rules, which means any U.S. person who is treated as the owner of any portion of the trust.

Process for Obtaining an EIN

Obtaining an EIN for a foreign trust involves the following steps:

  1. Application Form: Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number should be completed.
  2. Submission: The form can be submitted online, by fax or by mail to the IRS. The online application is the quickest method and can be completed on the IRS website
  3. Information Required: Detailed information about the foreign trust must be provided, including the name, country of origin and the responsible party, which is typically the trustee or the U.S. owner.
  4. Approval: Once the application is processed, the IRS will issue an EIN, which will be used for all subsequent filings and communications related to the trust​.

When is an EIN Required?

An EIN is required for a foreign trust in several scenarios:

  • Filing Form 3520-A: This form must be filed annually by the 15th day of the third month after the end of the trust’s tax year. The EIN is necessary for the identification of the trust on this form.
  • Filing Substitute Form 3520-A: If the foreign trust fails to file Form 3520-A, the U.S. owner must file a substitute Form 3520-A and attach it to Form 3520 by the due date of the U.S. owner’s Form 3520.
  • Other IRS Filings: The EIN is also required for other IRS forms and filings that may be necessary for the trust, including requests for extensions or amendments​.

Key Takeaways

  • Essential for Compliance: Obtaining an EIN is crucial for complying with U.S. tax regulations concerning foreign trusts.
  • Annual Filing Requirement: Form 3520-A must be filed annually, and failure to file can result in significant penalties.
  • Responsible Parties: The responsibility for ensuring compliance lies with the U.S. owners of the foreign trust.

Services Provided by Dimov Tax & CPA Services

Dimov Tax & CPA Services offers a range of services to assist clients with the complexities of foreign trust reporting, including:

  • EIN Application Assistance: Helping clients complete and submit Form SS-4 to obtain an EIN.
  • Form 3520-A Preparation: Assisting with the accurate and timely preparation and filing of Form 3520-A.
  • Compliance Review: Conducting thorough reviews to ensure all foreign trust reporting requirements are met.
  • Penalty Mitigation: Advising on strategies to mitigate penalties associated with non-compliance, including filing substitute forms and seeking extensions.


Fulfilling the requirements for Form 3520-A and the associated EIN can be complex. However, with proper guidance and assistance, compliance can be achieved efficiently. Dimov Tax & CPA Services stands ready to help clients manage these obligations, ensuring they remain compliant with U.S. tax laws while minimizing their exposure to penalties. By understanding and fulfilling these requirements, U.S. owners of foreign trusts can confidently meet their reporting obligations and focus on their broader financial goals.

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