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Non-resident spouse - tax filing

Non-resident spouse - tax filing

Old Dec 7th 2011, 2:57 am
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Default Non-resident spouse - tax filing

I am in the US on an L1 visa. I got married to my (British) wife earlier this year in the US. My wife is currently here on a tourist visa. She will be going to the American embassy London in January to apply for an L2 visa. So far so simple.

As we're approaching the end of the year I've started to think about tax. Will I be able to file a married tax return for 2011 even though my wife was not resident in the US at any point in 2011? She spent approximately 6 months of the year here on a tourist visa, and she has had no income in the US or UK since April 2011.

Thanks to anyone who has been in a similar position or who can point me in the right direction!
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Old Dec 7th 2011, 9:49 am
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Default Re: Non-resident spouse - tax filing

Does your wife have a SSN or a ITIN? If she has neither, she will have to file a W-7 for an ITIN for 2011 (unless she quickly obtains a SSN in the US before 15 April 2012).

If you elect to file 'married filing jointly' for 2011, your wife will have to declare all her 2011 UK income (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31). Be very clear on Schedule B, Part III, as her accounts in the UK will be included.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/...=96734,00.html

Last edited by theOAP; Dec 7th 2011 at 10:03 am.
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Old Dec 8th 2011, 6:19 pm
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Default Re: Non-resident spouse - tax filing

You need to read IRS publication 519. If she had income prior to April then I don't think it makes sense to file jointly because she will face US taxes on her income, as the US tax year is the calendar year. You can claim a foreign tax credit, but it seems like a needless hassle.

Not clear on why she's bothering to go all the way to the UK to get L-2, simpler just to file an I-539 and change status.

You also don't say how long you've been in the US, which has a bearing on how you do this, because say you arrived after the start of 2011, you should be filing dual-status for 2011.

I suggest you read up on the subject in IRS publication 519 and then come back here if you're still stuck, or talk to the IRS at their office in PA that deals with this subject (not the local IRS office or the usual help number, the number for the office in PA is in 519 - can be tricky to get through but the number is correct).

L-2 can get an EAD also, so that means she can get an SSN. If I recall correctly, USCIS now will only issue the SSN after the EAD is approved, so after she gets L-2 she then needs to file an I-765.

One thing I see people screw up often is to just trust it all to TurboTax or H&R Block - you need to understand the US tax system first so read the publication.

There are lots of fiddly bits to this - for example under the social security totalization agreement you may be exempt from FICA if you are an intracompany transferee. But depending on how long you plan on staying, you may want to pay FICA, etc.
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Old Dec 15th 2011, 10:11 pm
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Default Re: Non-resident spouse - tax filing

Originally Posted by beardog87 View Post
I am in the US on an L1 visa. I got married to my (British) wife earlier this year in the US. My wife is currently here on a tourist visa. She will be going to the American embassy London in January to apply for an L2 visa. So far so simple.

As we're approaching the end of the year I've started to think about tax. Will I be able to file a married tax return for 2011 even though my wife was not resident in the US at any point in 2011? She spent approximately 6 months of the year here on a tourist visa, and she has had no income in the US or UK since April 2011.

Thanks to anyone who has been in a similar position or who can point me in the right direction!
Generally if you are married you have no choice but to file as married, even if the spouse is nonresident. The main question will be is whether you should file joint or seperate returns- the publication is a good start for this and I always recommend running your numbers both ways to see what produces the lowest overall tax bill.
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Old Dec 15th 2011, 10:27 pm
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Default Re: Non-resident spouse - tax filing

Thanks for all replies. Good advice all round.
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