When it comes to filing taxes as a resident or non-resident alien, the first step is determining your alien status for tax purposes. If you satisfy the requirements of either the IRS green card test or the substantial presence test, you will be considered a resident alien for tax purposes. If you cannot meet the requirements, you will be taxed as a non-resident alien. Here’s a breakdown of how resident and non-resident aliens are taxed and how you can make the most out of your tax situation.
How are resident aliens taxed?
If you’re considered a resident alien, you will be taxed the same way a U.S. citizen would be. In other words, all income must be reported on your tax return, even if some of it or all of it was earned abroad. Income can include wages, interest, royalties, dividends, rental income, and other sources. Resident aliens use the same forms and filing statuses as U.S. citizens and have access to the same tax deductions, credits, and exemptions as well.
How are non-resident aliens taxed?
Non-resident aliens are taxed differently. The IRS only requires non-resident aliens to pay taxes on the income earned in the United States or income connected to a U.S. business. This means any income earned in any foreign country is not taxed by the IRS. Instead of using Form 1040 to file a tax return, non-resident aliens should use Form 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return. Non-resident aliens will also qualify for deductions and credits to help reduce their taxable income.
How are dual-status aliens taxed?
If you are a dual-status alien, it means that you were considered a resident alien and a non-resident alien in the same year. This typically occurs the in the year you arrive in the U.S. or depart. In this scenario, you would need to file a tax return. Which one is filed will be dependent on which status you held at the end of the tax year. For example, if you ended the year as a resident alien, you would file Form 1040 and note that it is a dual-status return. You would also need to include a statement of income earned as a non-resident during the tax year. If you choose to use Form 1040-NR as your statement of income, you will need to note that it is a dual-status statement. Dual-status tax returns have several filing restrictions, so guidance from a tax professional should be considered to ensure that you remain compliant with the IRS.
Can resident and non-resident aliens leave the U.S. without paying taxes?
In most cases, all aliens leaving the United States will need to secure a sailing permit with the IRS. This document grants IRS clearance and can be obtained by filing Form 1040-C, Departing Alien Income Tax Return or Form 2063, U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Statement and Annual Certificate of Compliance. You must also pay any tax owed, plus any taxes due from previous years. This process can take 2-3 weeks so you should plan your departure accordingly.
Tax Help for Resident and Non-Resident Aliens
Determining your alien status for tax purposes is only one initial hurdle that you need to overcome when filing a tax return. Filing and paying taxes is a whole other set of tasks and sometimes requires the help of a knowledgeable and experienced tax professional. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.
If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation