Form 8858 Instructions

Form 8858 Instructions

Form 8858 Instructions

Your quick guide to understanding Form 8858.

Doing your taxes can be difficult sometimes. That’s where Form 8858 comes in. This form is like a report card but for your money. It helps the government understand how much money you have in other countries. This article will explain what Form 8858 is, why it’s important, and how to fill it out.

What Is Form 8858?

Form 8858 is a bit like a report card from the IRS. However, instead of grades, this form is all about money. More specifically, money your business might have in another country. So, in other words, this form helps the IRS understand more about your foreign money.

The IRS wants to know if your business has branches in other countries. These other branches are called “foreign branches” or “foreign disregarded entities”. Now, you might be wondering what ‘disregarded’ means here. In simple terms, a ‘disregarded entity’ is a company that the IRS doesn’t see as separate from its owner. So, the money it makes is seen as the tax owner’s money.

Form 8858 in Simple Terms

So, let’s break down Form 8858 a little more. Firstly, this form is like a diary for your business money in other countries. Secondly, it helps the IRS understand who owns what. For instance, if you are a foreign branch’s tax owner, you must file Form 8858.

The information on this form includes details about your foreign corporation or branch. For example, how much money it made or lost. But also, how much foreign tax you pay on this money. Therefore, the IRS uses this form to keep everything clear and fair.

After all, not only does the IRS need to know about your money at home. But also, they need to know about any money your business has abroad. As a result, filling out and sending in your Form 8858 is a key part of doing your taxes correctly. In addition, it helps you avoid any potential issues with the IRS.

Why Do We Need Form 8858?

Imagine your report card didn’t tell your parents about a test you did well on. It wouldn’t be fair, right? Form 8858 is a lot like that report card. But instead of telling your parents about your grades, it tells the IRS about the money you made in a foreign country.

But why does the IRS need to know this? Remember, the IRS Form 8858 instructions are like a giant calculator. It keeps track of everyone’s money so that everyone pays the right amount of tax. In other words, it helps keep everything fair.

The tax owner of an FDE, or foreign disregarded entity, must file Form 8858. And when we say ‘file’, we mean fill in the form and send it to the IRS. So if you’re the tax owner, you are required to file Form 8858 every year during your annual accounting period.

Understanding the Importance of Form 8858

The IRS needs Form 8858 for a few reasons. Firstly, it gives them a complete picture of your money. For instance, let’s say you own a business in another country. The IRS would want to know how much money that business made or lost. This form is how they get that information.

Secondly, Form 8858 helps the IRS keep track of your taxes. For example, let’s say you paid foreign tax on your business’s earnings. The IRS would want to know that too. After all, they want to make sure you’re not paying too much or too little tax.

Finally, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just any form. It’s an information return. That means it’s a form used to report certain kinds of information to the IRS. In this case, that information is about the money you made in another country. As a result, the IRS uses this form to make sure you’re following all the rules.

Who Should File Form 8858?

So, now we know what Form 8858 is and why it’s important. But who needs to fill it out? Well, it’s like when your teacher asks for homework. Only certain people need to hand it in. For Form 8858, those people are the ones with money in businesses in other countries.

If you’re a tax owner of a business in a foreign country, you should file Form 8858. In other words, this form is for you if you own a controlled foreign corporation or foreign branch. But remember, you need to file this form every tax year. It’s like your annual report card for your foreign business money.

Be careful though! If you fail to file this tax form, there can be problems. Much like forgetting to turn in your homework might lower your grade, not turning in your Form 8858 might cause trouble with the IRS.

Identifying Who Needs to Use Form 8858

So, let’s dive in a bit deeper. Who are these people with money in foreign businesses? Well, think about when you do a group project at school. The person who is in charge of the project is a bit like the tax owner. They are the ones responsible for everything. So, for tax purposes, if you are in charge of a foreign business, you need to fill out Form 8858.

Remember, if you’re required to file Form 5471, you will probably need to file Form 8858 too. Form 5471 is another form for U.S. people with foreign businesses. Just like you might have different homework for math and English, there are different forms for different tax situations.

Also, there might be a chance to get a foreign tax credit. This is like a bonus point for paying taxes in a foreign country. You can use this credit to pay less U.S. tax. Therefore, by filing Form 8858, you can make sure you get any bonus points you deserve.

How to Fill Out Form 8858

Filling out Form 8858 might seem hard at first. But, think of it like a puzzle. Each piece has its place. And, just like a puzzle, Form 8858 has different parts that need to be filled out in a certain way.

If you’re a foreign disregarded entity (FDE) tax owner, you must fill out this form. An FDE is a business that the IRS sees as an entity separate from its owner. In other words, it’s like a pet that you own. Even though you’re the owner, the pet is its being.

Firstly, filers of Form 8865 who respect the rules and fill out their forms right might also have to fill out Form 8858. For instance, if you’re one of the Category 5 filers of Form 8865, you must also fill out Form 8858.

Filling Out Form 8858: A Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s now get into the ‘how’.

First, you need to check if you own a foreign business. Do you have a foreign branch or a controlled foreign partnership? If you do, you’re one step closer to needing to complete this form.

Second, you have to know if you’re required to complete Form 8832. This form is like a cousin to Form 8858. They are similar but used in different situations.

Third, you need to fill in the details about your foreign business. For example, what do you do, how much money you earned and other details.

Finally, you need to double-check everything. Just like reviewing your homework before handing it in, make sure all the information on the form is correct.

Common Mistakes When Filing Form 8858

Have you ever tried to catch a ball, but missed? That’s what happens when we make mistakes with Form 8858. And just like missing a catch, it’s important to learn from these errors.

Firstly, many people forget to include all parts of the form. For example, Schedule J and Schedule G are often left out. Think of these schedules like toppings on a pizza. A pizza isn’t complete without all the toppings, right? The same is true for Form 8858.

Missing Schedules

Forgetting to include Schedule G and Schedule J is one big mistake. Schedule G tells the IRS about the money your foreign business made. On the other hand, Schedule J is where you tell them about the taxes paid by your foreign business. So, missing them is like trying to tell a story without the middle part. It just doesn’t make sense.

Incorrect Information

Another common mistake is giving the wrong information. It’s like spelling a word wrong on a spelling test. Even one wrong letter can change the word. The same goes for Form 8858. For example, giving wrong details in Schedule C can mess things up.

Forgetting Separate Schedules

Some people also forget to file a separate Schedule for each foreign business they own. That’s like taking a test and only answering the questions for one lesson, even though the test is about three lessons. Each business needs its own Schedule. So, make sure to fill out a separate Schedule for each one.

Lastly, it’s important to remember to complete Form 8858 and attach it to your tax return. If not, it’s like leaving your homework at home. Your teacher won’t know you did it. In the same way, the IRS won’t know about your foreign business if you don’t attach Form 8858 to your tax return.

What Happens After You Submit Form 8858?

Have you ever wondered what happens after you turn in a test at school? Similarly, after you submit Form 8858, the IRS checks it. It’s like your teacher grading your test.

Firstly, the IRS checks if you have filled the entire Form 8858. It’s like checking if you answered all the questions on your test. If not, you might have to do it again.

Checking the Information

Afterward, the IRS checks the information you gave about your foreign entities. Foreign entities are like your friends from another country. Just like how your teacher wants to know about your foreign friends in your school project, the IRS wants to know about your foreign entities in Form 8858.

In other words, Form 8858 is the information return that tells the IRS about your foreign friends (entities). The IRS is especially interested in “Page 1 of Form 8858”. It’s like the cover page of your school project.

Checking for Completeness

Then, they check if you are satisfied with the reporting requirements. It’s like making sure you followed all the rules for your school project. The rules for Form 8858 include giving details about foreign disregarded entities. These are like your friends from another country who live with you, but people don’t know about them. You have to tell the IRS about them in Form 8858.

For example, if you’re a “category 1 filer of Form 8865”, you need to tell the IRS about these friends. Don’t worry if this sounds hard. It’s like learning a new topic at school. Once you understand it, it gets easier.

Tips for Easier Form 8858 Completion

Filling out Form 8858 can be a tough task. But don’t worry! Think of it like a big school project. There are ways to make it easier!

Firstly, learn about income tax. It’s like learning about how much candy you owe your friend. You have to do the same with money for the IRS.

Knowing Your Entities

Afterward, you need to know about your “controlled foreign”. In other words, this is something you own in a different country. Like a toy car you left at your cousin’s house in another country.

If you need to file Form 8865 with respect to this foreign toy car, you should do it. Don’t forget! The IRS wants to know about it.

Understanding the Language

Then, you need to understand “disregarded as an entity separate”. This phrase is a bit like saying your toy car is not seen as separate from you. It’s still yours even if it’s at your cousin’s house!

Tax owners of FDEs is another tricky term. Imagine if your cousin was also playing with your toy car. You both have to tell the IRS about it. That’s what it means to be ‘tax owners’ of FDEs.

Completing the Requirements

Lastly, you need to satisfy the reporting requirements. It’s like finishing your homework. If you don’t finish it, your teacher won’t be happy. Similarly, the IRS needs you to complete everything on Form 8858.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if I don’t file Form 8858?

If you don’t file Form 8858 and you’re required to, you could face penalties from the IRS. It’s like forgetting to turn in homework – it can lead to problems. Therefore, it’s very important to know if you’re required to complete Form 8858 and ensure that it’s submitted correctly and on time.

2. How do I know if I need to file Form 8858?

If you own a foreign disregarded entity or have control over a foreign business, you’ll likely need to file Form 8858. This includes if you are a foreign branch’s tax owner. Think of it as being the team leader in a group project – you’re the one in charge, so you’re the one who needs to turn in the paperwork.

3. Can I get a tax credit if I pay tax in a foreign country?

Yes, you can potentially get a foreign tax credit. This is like getting a bonus point for paying tax in a foreign country. You can use this credit to pay less U.S. tax. Filing Form 8858 helps ensure you get any bonus points you deserve.

4. What if I have multiple foreign disregarded entities?

If you have more than one foreign disregarded entity, you need to file a separate Form 8858 for each one. This is similar to answering all the questions in a test – you can’t just answer one question and expect to pass. Each entity needs its own form.

5. When do we need to fill out the special paper, IRS Form 8858?

If you’re an American and you own a company in another country or you run a part of your company from another country, you need to fill out a special paper called IRS Form 8858. This paper tells the US tax people what money you made in your foreign company.

6. What is IRS Form 8858 used for when we have a foreign company we control?

The IRS Form 8858 is like a report card for the foreign company that an American controls. This way, the US tax people can make sure that everything is reported correctly.

7. What is a summary balance for the foreign company we own?

A summary balance is like a snapshot of the foreign company’s money situation. It shows what the company owns, what it owes, and what’s left over. We have to put this on the IRS Form 8858 so the US tax people can see how the foreign company is doing.

8. What if we have a company in another country that also owns other companies in other countries? How does that affect IRS Form 8858?

For each level of this company stack, you might need to fill out a separate IRS Form 8858. This way, you can tell the US tax people about the money made and the taxes paid by each company in the stack.

9. What information do we have to tell the US tax people about our company parts in other countries and ourselves on Form 8858?

When filling out Form 8858, you need to tell the US tax people about the money made and the money spent by your company parts in other countries. You also need to tell them about yourself, like how much of the foreign company you own and if there were any dealings between you and your foreign company. By doing this, you can make sure you tell the US tax people correctly about the money you made in other countries.


Understanding and filing Form 8858 can be complex, just like a tricky math problem. However, if you know what you’re doing, it can be broken down into simpler parts and tackled effectively. This form is essential for tax owners of foreign disregarded entities or branches, and its accurate completion is critical. Just like a report card provides a complete picture of a student’s performance, Form 8858 provides the IRS with a comprehensive understanding of your foreign financial affairs. So, just as you would check your homework for errors before handing it in, double-check Form 8858 for accuracy to ensure you’re in compliance with all IRS requirements. Remember, it’s not just a form, it’s a key part of your financial responsibility.

Jordan Salas
Jordan Salas

Jordan is an experienced CPA and an author & editor at Financopedia. Over the past 12 years, he has written tax and financial content for leading brands. His writing has been featured in Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, Walstreet journal, and more. Jordan enjoys watching old movies and hiking in his free time.

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