||2003 Tax Year
Exclusions From Gross Income
This is archived information that pertains only to the 2003 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.
Resident and nonresident aliens are allowed exclusions from gross income if they meet certain conditions. An exclusion from
gross income is
generally income you receive that is not included in your U.S. income and is not subject to U.S. tax. This chapter covers
some of the more common
exclusions allowed to resident and nonresident aliens.
Topics - This chapter discusses:
Certain compensation paid by a foreign employer,
Gain from sale of home, and
Scholarships and fellowship grants.
Useful Items - You may want to see:
Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad
Selling Your Home
See chapter 12 for information about getting these publications.
Resident aliens may be able to exclude the following items from their gross income.
Foreign Earned Income
and Housing Amount
If you are physically present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 full days during any period of 12 consecutive
months, you may
qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. For tax years beginning in 2002, the exclusion is $80,000. In addition, you
may be able to exclude or
deduct certain foreign housing amounts. You may also qualify if you are a bona fide resident of a foreign country and you
are a citizen or national of
a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty. For more information, see Publication 54.
The term “foreign country” means any territory under the sovereignty of a government other than that of the United States. The term also
includes territorial waters of the foreign country, the airspace over the foreign country, and the seabed and subsoil of submarine
areas adjacent to
the territorial waters of the foreign country.
Nonresident aliens can exclude the following items from their gross income.
U.S. source interest income that is not connected with a U.S. trade or business is excluded from income if it is from:
Deposits (including certificates of deposit) with persons in the banking business,
Deposits or withdrawable accounts with mutual savings banks, cooperative banks, credit unions, domestic building and loan
other savings institutions chartered and supervised as savings and loan or similar associations under federal or state law
(if the interest paid or
credited can be deducted by the association), and
Amounts held by an insurance company under an agreement to pay interest on them.
Interest on obligations of a state or political subdivision, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. possession, generally
is not included in income.
However, interest on certain private activity bonds, arbitrage bonds, and certain bonds not in registered form is included
U.S. source interest income that is not connected with a U.S. trade or business and that is portfolio interest on
obligations issued after July 18,
1984, is excluded from income. Portfolio interest is interest (including original issue discount) that is paid on obligations:
Not in registered form (bearer obligations) that are sold only to foreign investors, and the interest on which is payable
only outside the
United States and its possessions, and that has on its face a statement that any U.S. person holding the obligation will be
subject to limitations
under the U.S. income tax laws,
In registered form that are targeted to foreign markets and the interest on which is paid through financial institutions outside
In registered form that are not targeted to foreign markets, if you furnished the payer of the interest (or the withholding
agent) a statement that you are not a U.S. person. You should have made this statement on a Form W–8BEN or on a substitute
form similar to Form
W–8BEN. In either case, the statement should have been signed under penalties of perjury, should have certified that you are
not a U.S. citizen
or resident, and should have included your name and address.
Portfolio interest does not include the following types of interest.
Interest you receive on an obligation issued by a corporation of which you own, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of the
power of all classes of voting stock.
Interest you receive on an obligation issued by a partnership of which you own, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of the
Portfolio interest does not include contingent interest.
Contingent interest is either of the following:
Interest that is determined by reference to:
Any receipts, sales, or other cash flow of the debtor or related person,
Income or profits of the debtor or related person,
Any change in value of any property of the debtor or a related person, or
Any dividend, partnership distributions, or similar payments made by the debtor or a related person.
Any other type of contingent interest that is identified by the Secretary of the Treasury in regulations.
For the definition of “related person” in connection with any contingent interest, and for the exceptions that apply to interest described
in item (1), see subparagraphs (B) and (C) of Internal Revenue Code section 871(h)(4).
Exception for existing debt.
Contingent interest does not include interest paid or accrued on any debt with a fixed term that was issued:
On or before April 7, 1993, or
After April 7, 1993, pursuant to a written binding contract in effect on that date and at all times thereafter before that
for Foreign Employer
If you were paid by a foreign employer, your U.S. source income may be exempt from U.S. tax, but only if you meet one of the
Employees of foreign persons, organizations, or offices.
Income for personal services performed in the United States as a nonresident alien is not considered to be from U.S.
sources and is tax exempt if
you meet all three of the following conditions.
You perform personal services as an employee of or under a contract with a nonresident alien individual, foreign partnership,
corporation, not engaged in a trade or business in the United States; or you work for an office or place of business maintained
in a foreign country
or possession of the United States by a U.S. corporation, a U.S. partnership, or a U.S. citizen or resident.
You perform these services while you are a nonresident alien temporarily present in the United States for a period or periods
of not more
than a total of 90 days during the tax year.
Your pay for these services is not more than $3,000.
If you do not meet all three conditions, your income from personal services performed in the United States is U.S. source
income and is taxed
according to the rules in chapter 4.
If your pay for these services is more than $3,000, the entire amount is income from a trade or business within the
United States. To find if your
pay is more than $3,000, do not include any amounts you get from your employer for advances or reimbursements of business
travel expenses, if you were
required to and did account to your employer for those expenses. If the advances or reimbursements are more than your expenses,
include the excess in
your pay for these services.
A day means a calendar day during any part of which you are physically present in the United States.
During 2002, Henry Smythe, a nonresident alien from a nontreaty country, worked for an overseas office of a U.S. partnership.
Henry, who uses the
calendar year as his tax year, was temporarily present in the United States for 60 days during 2002 performing personal services
for the overseas
office of the partnership. That office paid him a total gross salary of $2,800 for those services. During 2002, he was not
engaged in a trade or
business in the United States. The salary is not considered U.S. source income and is exempt from U.S. tax.
The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that Henry's total gross salary for the services performed in the United States during
2002 was $4,500. He received $2,875 in 2002, and $1,625 in 2003. During 2002, he was engaged in a trade or business in the
United States because the
compensation for his personal services in the United States was more than $3,000. Henry's salary is U.S. source income and
is taxed under the rules in
Compensation for services performed by a nonresident alien in connection with the individual's temporary presence
in the United States as a regular
crew member of a foreign vessel engaged in transportation between the United States and a foreign country or U.S. possession
is not U.S. source income
and is exempt from U.S. tax.
Students and exchange visitors.
Nonresident alien students and exchange visitors present in the United States under “F,” “J,” or “Q” visas can exclude from gross
income pay received from a foreign employer.
This group includes bona fide students, scholars, trainees, teachers, professors, research assistants, specialists,
or leaders in a field of
specialized knowledge or skill, or persons of similar description. It also includes the alien's spouse and minor children
if they come with the alien
or come later to join the alien.
A nonresident alien temporarily present in the United States under a “J” visa includes an alien individual entering the United States as an
exchange visitor under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961.
A foreign employer is:
A nonresident alien individual, foreign partnership, or foreign corporation, or
An office or place of business maintained in a foreign country or in a U.S. possession by a U.S. corporation, a U.S. partnership,
individual who is a U.S. citizen or resident.
The term “foreign employer” does not include a foreign government. Pay from a foreign government that is exempt from U.S. income tax is
discussed in chapter 10.
Income from certain annuities.
Do not include in income any annuity received under a qualified annuity plan or from a qualified trust exempt from U.S.
income tax if you meet both of the following conditions.
You receive the annuity only because:
You performed personal services outside the United States while you were a nonresident alien, or
You performed personal services inside the United States while you were a nonresident alien and you met the three conditions
earlier under Employees of foreign persons, organizations, or offices.
At the time the first amount is paid as an annuity under the plan (or by the trust), 90% or more of the employees for whom
benefits are provided under the annuity plan (or under the plan of which the trust is a part) are U.S. citizens or residents.
If the annuity qualifies under condition (1) but not condition (2) above, you do not have to include the amount in
You are a resident of a country that gives a substantially equal exclusion to U.S. citizens and residents, or
You are a resident of a beneficiary developing country under the Trade Act of 1974.
If you are not sure whether the annuity is from a qualified annuity plan or qualified trust, ask the person who made
Income affected by treaties.
Income of any kind that is exempt from U.S. tax under a treaty to which the United States is a party is excluded from
your gross income. Income on
which the tax is only limited by treaty, however, is included in gross income. See chapter 9.
Gain From the Sale
of Your Main Home
If you sold your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain on the sale of your home. If you are married
and file a joint
return, you may be able to exclude up to $500,000. For information on the requirements for this exclusion, see Publication
This exclusion does not apply to nonresident aliens who are subject to the expatriation tax rules discussed in chapter 4.
If you are a candidate for a degree, you may be able to exclude from your income part or all of the amounts you receive as
a qualified scholarship.
The rules discussed here apply to both resident and nonresident aliens.
If a nonresident alien receives a grant that is not from U.S. sources, it is not subject to U.S. tax. See Scholarships, Grants,
Awards in chapter 2 to determine whether your grant is from U.S. sources.
A qualified scholarship is any amount you receive as a scholarship or fellowship grant that you use according to the
terms of the grant for:
Tuition and fees required to enroll in, or to attend, an educational institution, or
Fees, books, supplies, and equipment that the educational institution requires of all students for the courses of
Amounts you receive from a scholarship or fellowship that you use for other expenses, such as room and board or travel, are
not excludable from
Terms of grant.
Your scholarship or fellowship can still qualify as tax free even if the terms do not provide that it only be used
for tuition and course-related
expenses. It will qualify if you use the grant proceeds for tuition and course-related expenses. However, if the terms of
the grant require its use
for other purposes, such as room and board, or specify that the grant cannot be used for tuition or course-related expenses,
the amounts received
under the grant cannot be excluded from income.
Candidate for a degree.
The term candidate for a degree means a student (whether full- or part-time) who:
Attends a primary or secondary school or is pursuing a degree at a college or university, or
Attends an educational institution that is authorized and accredited to provide:
A program that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelor's or higher degree, or
A program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.
Payment for services.
You cannot exclude from income the portion of any scholarship, fellowship, or tuition reduction that represents payment
for teaching, research, or
other services. This is true even if all candidates for a degree are required to perform the services as a condition for receiving
On January 7, Maria Gomez is notified of a scholarship of $2,500 for the spring semester. As a condition for receiving the
scholarship, Maria must
serve as a part-time teaching assistant. Of the $2,500 scholarship, $1,000 represents payment for her services. Assuming that
Maria meets all other
conditions, she can exclude no more than $1,500 from income as a qualified scholarship.
Publications Index | 2003 Tax Help Archives | Tax Help Archives | Home