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Taxation of Resident Aliens


VIA IRS.GOV

Taxable Income

A resident alien’s income is generally subject to tax in the same manner as a U.S. citizen. If you are a resident alien, you must report all interest, dividends, wages, or other compensation for services, income from rental property or royalties, and other types of income on your U.S. tax return. You must report these amounts whether from sources within or outside the United States.

Tax Rates

Resident aliens are generally taxed in the same way as U.S. citizens. This means that their worldwide income is subject to U.S. tax and must be reported on their U.S. tax return. Income of resident aliens is subject to the graduated tax rates that apply to U.S. citizens. Resident aliens use the Tax Table and Tax Rate Schedules which apply to U.S. citizens found in the instructions for Forms 1040 (PDF),1040A (PDF), or 1040EZ (PDF).

Filing Status

Resident aliens can use the same filing statuses available to U.S. citizens. You can claim the same deductions allowed to U.S. citizens if you are a resident alien for the entire tax year. You should get Form 1040 and its instructions for more information on how to claim your allowable deductions.

Claiming Exemptions

You can claim personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents according to the dependency rules for U.S. citizens. You can claim an exemption for your spouse on a Married Filing Separate return if your spouse had no gross income for U.S. tax purposes and was not the dependent of another taxpayer. You can claim this exemption even if your spouse has not been a resident alien for a full tax year or is an alien who has not come to the United States. You can claim an exemption for each person who qualifies as a dependent according to the rules for U.S. citizens. The dependent must be a citizen or national of the United States or be a resident of the United States, Canada, or Mexico for some part of the calendar year in which your tax year begins. Get Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information for more information. Refer also to Aliens–How Many Exemptions Can Be Claimed?

CAUTION: Your spouse and each dependent must have either a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in order to be claimed as an exemption or a dependent.

Deductions

Resident aliens can claim the same itemized deductions as U.S. citizens, using Schedule A of Form 1040. These deductions include certain medical and dental expenses, state and local income taxes, real estate taxes, interest you paid on a home mortgage, charitable contributions, casualty and theft losses, and miscellaneous deductions.

If you do not itemize your deductions, you can claim the standard deduction for your particular filing status. For further information, see Form 1040 and its instructions.

Tax Credits

Resident aliens generally claim tax credits and report tax payments, including withholding, using the same rules that apply to U.S. citizens. The following items are some of the credits you may be able to claim: child and dependent care credit, credit for the elderly and disabled, child tax credit, education credits, foreign tax credit, earned income credit, and adoption credit.

Forms and Due Dates

Resident aliens should file Form 1040EZ, Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents (PDF), Form 1040A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF) or Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF) at the address shown in the instructions for those forms. The due date for filing the return and paying any tax due is April 15 of the year following the year for which you are filing a return. You are allowed an automatic extension to June 15 to file if your main place of business and the home you live in are outside the United States and Puerto Rico on April 15. You can get an automatic extension of time to file until October15 by fil
ing Form 4868 (PDF) on or before April 15 (June 15 if you qualify for the June 15 extension). See the instructions for the form you are filing for more information.

Refer to Publication 4588, Basic Tax Guide for Green Card Holders: Understanding Your U.S. Tax Obligations (PDF) for more information.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 07, 2010

Taxation of Nonresident Aliens


VIA IRS.GOV

An alien is any individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national. A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card testor the substantial presence test.

Who Must File

If you are any of the following, you must file a return:

  • A nonresident alien individual engaged or considered to be engaged in a trade or business in the United States during the year. You must file even if:
    • Your income did not come from a trade or business conducted in the United States,
    • You have no income from U.S. sources, or
    • Your income is exempt from income tax.

    However, if your only U.S. source income is wages in an amount less than the personal exemption amount (see Publication 501), you are not required to file.

  • A nonresident alien individual not engaged in a trade or business in the United States with U.S. income on which the tax liability was not satisfied by the withholding of tax at the source.
  • A representative or agent responsible for filing the return of an individual described in (1) or (2),
  • A fiduciary for a nonresident alien estate or trust, or
  • A resident or domestic fiduciary, or other person, charged with the care of the person or property of a nonresident individual may be required to file an income tax return for that individual and pay the tax (Refer to Treas. Reg. 1.6012-3(b)).

NOTE: If you were a nonresident alien student, teacher, or trainee who was temporarily present in the United States on an “F,””J,””M,” or “Q” visa, you are considered engaged in a trade or business in the United States. You must file Form 1040NR (or Form 1040NR-EZ) only if you have income that is subject to tax, such as wages, tips, scholarship and fellowship grants, dividends, etc. Refer to Foreign Students and Scholars for more information.

Claiming a Refund or Benefit

You must also file an income tax return if you want to:

  • Claim a refund of overwithheld or overpaid tax, or
  • Claim the benefit of any deductions or credits. For example, if you have no U.S. business activities but have income from real property that you choose to treat as effectively connected income, you must timely file a true and accurate return to take any allowable deductions against that income.

Which Income to Report

A nonresident alien’s income that is subject to U.S. income tax must generally be divided into two categories:

Effectively Connected Income, after allowable deductions, is taxed at graduated rates. These are the same rates that apply to U.S. citizens and residents. FDAP income generally consists of passive investment income; however, in theory, it could consist of almost any sort of income. FDAP income is taxed at a flat 30 percent (or lower treaty rate) and no deductions are allowed against such income. Effectively Connected Income should be reported on page one of Form 1040NR. FDAP income should be reported on page four of Form 1040NR.

Which Form to File

Nonresident aliens who are required to file an income tax return must use:

Find more information at Which Form to File.

When and Where To File

If you are an employee or self-employed person and you receive wages or non-employee compensation subject to U.S. income tax withholding, or you have an office or place of business in the United States, you must generally file by the 15th day of the 4th month after you
r tax year ends. For a person filing using a calendar year this is generally April 15.

If you are not an employee or self-employed person who receives wages or non-employee compensation subject to U.S. income tax withholding, or if you do not have an office or place of business in the United States, you must file by the 15th day of the 6th month after your tax year ends. For a person filing using a calendar year this is generally June 15.

File Form 1040NR-EZ and Form 1040NR at the address shown in the instructions for Form 1040NR-EZ and 1040NR.

Extension of time to file

If you cannot file your return by the due date, you should file Form 4868 (PDF) to request an automatic extension of time to file. You must file Form 4868 by the regular due date of the return.

You Could Lose Your Deductions and Credits

To get the benefit of any allowable deductions or credits, you must timely file a true and accurate income tax return. For this purpose, a return is timely if it is filed within 16 months of the due date just discussed. The Internal Revenue Service has the right to deny deductions and credits on tax returns filed more than 16 months after the due dates of the returns. Refer to When To File in Chapter 7 of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens (PDF) for additional details.

Departing Alien

Before leaving the United States, all aliens (with certain exceptions) must obtain a certificate of compliance. This document, also popularly known as the sailing permit or departure permit, must be secured from the IRS before leaving the U.S. You will receive a sailing or departure permit after filing a Form 1040-C (PDF) or Form 2063 (PDF).

Even if you have left the United States and filed a Form 1040-C, U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return (PDF), on departure, you still must file an annual U.S. income tax return. If you are married and both you and your spouse are required to file, you must each file a separate return, unless one of the spouses is a U.S. citizen or a resident alien, in which case the departing alien could file a joint return with his or her spouse (Refer to Nonresident Spouse Treated as a Resident).

References/Related Topics

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: November 17, 2010

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