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Essential Tax Tips for Non-U.S. Citizens

Posted by Ann Irons, CPA

Mar 25, 2014 10:24:00 PM

tax-tips-non-us-citizensAs a non-U.S. citizen who spends a significant amount of time in the United States, you must comply with U.S. tax laws to maintain your resident or non-resident alien status. Our state and federal tax requirements are complex, and many of our citizens find the filing process slightly overwhelming. Because your legal right to remain within the country is contingent upon tax compliance, even a simple oversight can jeopardize your status. Ann Irons, CPA, LLC provides accounting services for foreign taxpayers in Bellingham, MA.

Who Must File Taxes as a Resident Alien?

Even if you do not have your green card, but meet certain requirements, called the substantial presence test, you will most likely still have to follow the same tax requirements for a resident alien. To meet these presence requirements, you must have spent a minimum of 31 days within the United States for the current tax year. You must have stayed within the United States for 183 days over the previous three tax years, including this one.

Do I Meet the Substantial Presence Requirements?

This is where it gets tricky, and where the professional services of a Bellingham CPA make a significant difference. As you count the days that you’ve been in the United States during this three-year period, you do not actually count every single day, but rather a fraction of those days, and only in two of those three years. Another potential source of confusion is the fact that you cannot count all days in which you are physically present within in the U.S. These days include, but are not limited to:

  • Any day spent serving as a crewmember on a foreign vessel
  • Days in which medical conditions could have prevented you from leaving the country, such as days spent in a hospital
  • Days that involved traveling from one point outside of the U.S. to another point outside of the U.S., where you were only in the U.S. for part of the day
  • If you live in Canada or Mexico and commute to a job in the U.S.
  • Certain days during which you qualify as an exempt individual

How Do I Know if I’m an Exempt Individual?

Irons points out that there are several reasons why you might be considered exempt for tax purposes. For example, students with certain types of visas who stay within the U.S. on a temporary basis may be exempt. If you have a J or Q visa and are staying temporarily as a trainee or teacher, you are an exempt individual. Similar requirements apply for employees of foreign governments with either an A or G visa. These are only a select few types of exempt individuals.

Meeting tax requirements in the U.S. is critical. To learn more about filing income taxes as a non-U.S. citizen, or to request an appointment with Ann Irons, CPA, LLC, contact our Bellingham, MA tax and accounting office at 508-966-0700. Irons, who has more than a decade of experience working with individuals and businesses, welcomes accounting clients in the Bellingham, Milford, and Franklin, MA areas, and tax clients across the United States.

Topics: Individual Income Taxes, International Tax

About Ann M. Irons, CPA LLC

ann_irons_head_shotAnn spent over 25 years in the financial service industry, gaining knowledge and experience that allows her to provide an array of tax, bookkeeping, and accounting services for her clients. Relying on a stringent code of ethics and a dedication to maintaining the highest industry standards, Ann works hard to ensure her clients receive the quality service they’ve come to expect. A member of AICPA and MSCPA, Ann has also had an article featured in the renowned publication, Banker and Tradesman. 

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