customs officer? Should he claim all of the $ amount on the claim form?
A foreign national, upon arrival to U.S. can have virtually unlimited amounts of cash on him, as long as he/she declares it to U.S. Customs upon arrival. There is no "tax" or "penalty" that is due on an amount of money that has been earned or brought from abroad by a non-resident alien = a visitor from China or Uganda. You will only start paying taxes on the interest banks will pay you on the deposit of these monies in a bank account. With interest rates banks pay on time deposits being close to zero, I wouldn't worry about it.
As my colleagues point out, the amount is not the issue. It is honestly declaring them on the form provided by customs. Be sure that if you carry money out of the US, including money you declared on the way in, that you file the declaration as well. I have had client's who failed to do so to their dismay.
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