I am an international student in US. if I buy products online using my debit card and my online purchases and wire transfer in (my family transfers me tuition from back home directly in my account and send me some expense money through western union) that exceeds $10k in a 12 month period, am I supposed to report this to IRS or FinCen? Is everyone who receives and spends more than $10k required to report to IRS in USA?


No. You only have to report income to the IRS. The money in question is not income. The $10,000 FinCen limit you’ve heard about is for cash transactions only, not electronic transfers.

There is one other limit that might be relevant, which is for gifts. For a giver and recipient within the U.S., gifts below $15,000 don’t have to be reported. Above that they must be reported by the giver, not the recipient. For gifts from outside the U.S., the rules are different (because the U.S. has no jurisdiction over the giver) and I think they are dependent on the source country.


You are required to report to the IRS your income, such as from work or employment. As a student you may not need to file a tax return at all (your university advisor may be able to clarify).

Financial institutions are generally required to report transactions over $10,000 per month to FinCEN, but this is not anything you need to worry about - they report, not you. However, if your bank suggests that you break up a transaction into smaller amounts so they have less paperwork to fill in, that is a bad idea.

If you are a "US Person" for tax purposes you are required to report all of your foreign accounts to FinCEN if the aggregate value of your foreign bank accounts exceeded $10,000 throughout the calendar year. That means if you have a savings account back home, you will need to report that. However you may not be a “US Person” as a student.

  • Thank you for your response. By transactions, do you mean all kinds of transactions amounting greater than $10k? So that would include everything from grocery shopping to amazon orders? – Salik Apr 27 at 19:35
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    The FinCen reporting requirement is for cash transactions and only applies to single transactions over $10,000. The phrase "transactions over $10,000 per month" in this answer is wrong. It should say, "cash transactions over $10,000" – prl Apr 28 at 8:55
  • Probably correct that transactions under $10.000 may not need to be reported to FinCEN, however multiple transactions adding up to $10,000 or more per month should trigger a Suspicious Activity Report under AML rules and “structuring” a transaction to avoid the FinCEN reporting requirement is a big no no (the penalties are quite draconian), so for practical purposes one should consider transactions adding up to or close to $10,000 reported. – xirt Apr 28 at 15:42
  • Foreign students are not considered US resident for tax purposes (and subject to FBAR) for the first five years and possibly longer, see pub 519 or more definitively 31 CFR 1010.350(b)(2) plus 26 CFR 301.7701(b)-3(b)(4) and (7) implementing 26 USC 7701(b)(5). (Bleah ref Charlie Brown)(@%Peanuts#?)(!). – dave_thompson_085 Apr 28 at 23:26

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