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Non-citizens and Taxes

Posted by attorney Carl Shusterman

In addition to gaining various benefits, a U.S. green card also means you now have responsibilities like paying taxes. Even if you live abroad, as a green card holder the U.S. government views you as a taxable resident of the United States. As a result, you must file a U.S. tax return unless your permanent resident status has been revoked/abandoned, your gross income is lower than the amount required to file a tax return. or your U.S. residence status is affected by an income tax treaty.

Green card holders

The acquisition of a green card automatically makes you a taxable U.S. resident (tax resident). You're required to report all income (including worldwide income) to the U.S. government. You must file the appropriate tax forms each year by the April 15 deadline. You're eligible to claim all of the same deductions, tax credits, and exemptions as U.S. citizens if you've been a permanent resident for the entire year. Not paying your taxes can later hurt your chances to qualify for U.S. citizenship, and can even cause you to be deported for not maintaining your permanent resident status. As long as you hold a green card, you have to pay U.S. taxes even if you haven't been physically present inside the U.S. for a year. The time factor of how long you've spent in the U.S. only applies to those with nonimmigrant visas.

Temporary visa holders

If you're a nonimmigrant, you're considered a tax resident if the following conditions are met: - You're in the U.S. 31 days of the current year, and - You're in the U.S. for 183 days in the 3 year period counting the current year and the two years prior.

The 183 day total counts the days you've been in the U.S. as follows: - All days in the current year, plus - 1/3 of the days in the year prior to current year, plus - 1/6 of the days in the second year prior to current year

However, not all days you spend in the U.S. automatically count towards your total. For instance, if you regularly commute to work in the U.S. from Canada or Mexico, the days you commute do not count. There are a number of other exceptions and conditions that qualify you as exempt, so you should consult a tax professional to get a clear picture of where you stand. If you're a nonimmigrant that qualifies as a tax resident, you must file the appropriate tax forms by the April 15 deadline on income earned in the U.S.

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