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Frequently Asked Questions from Non-US Citizens about US Taxes

Q:    Is the status of my residency for tax reasons identical to my status for immigration?

A:    These types of residency status are completely separate and may be different. It is possible to be a resident from a tax perspective, but remain an alien from an immigration standpoint. Persons in the United States on temporary visas could be, from a tax perspective, resident aliens, non-resident aliens, non-resident aliens who can choose to be treated as residents for tax reasons, or dual-status aliens.

Q:    Will I always be a resident from a tax perspective if I’m a permanent resident from an immigration perspective?

A:    Immigration laws consider an immigrant to be a permanent resident when they have been granted the privilege of living permanently within the U.S. Generally, this corresponds to having been issued a green card (which is actually pink) by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). From a tax perspective, permanent residents are considered U.S. residents as of the day they are present within the United States as a permanent resident. So, in the 1st year of residency – assuming they were first a nonresident – they will be considered dual-status aliens for purposes of taxes. Dual-status aliens are not allowed to file jointly, usually can’t claim exemptions for dependents, and are not allowed to claim a standard deduction.

Resident taxpayers are required to report all income worldwide. Once a taxpayer becomes a resident for the full year, they are allowed to claim credits and deductions available to all United States citizens. Full-year residents can file any applicable tax form – 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040 – and can file joint returns with their spouses if married. The form instructions will explain this in more detail. Even resident taxpayers might be able to claim benefits under any tax treaties with their home country.

Whole Story at TFE.

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