What is the difference between a resident alien and
nonresident aliens for tax purposes?
Since resident aliens and nonresident aliens are taxed differently, it is important for
you to determine your status. You are considered a nonresident alien for any period that
you are neither a U.S. citizen nor a U.S. resident alien, unless you make a first-year
choice to be treated as a resident alien. You are considered a resident alien if you met
one of two tests for the calendar year. For specific information, refer to Tax Topic 851, Resident and Nonresident Aliens, or Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. If the tax
information you need relating to this topic is not addressed in Publication 519, you may
call the IRS National Office hotline. The number is (202) 874- 1460. This is not a
What is a dual-status alien?
You are a dual-status alien during any year in which you have been both a resident
alien and a nonresident alien, such as the year you arrive in or depart from the United
States. In figuring your tax, different rules apply to each part of the year. This is
discussed in Tax Topic 851, Resident and Nonresident Aliens.
For more information, refer to Tax Topic 852, Dual-Status
Aliens, or Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens,
which has an example of a dual-status tax return. If the information you need relating to
this topic is not addressed in Publication 519, you may call the IRS National Office
hotline. The number is (202) 874-1460. This is not a toll-free number.
I am a U.S. citizen working abroad. Are my foreign earnings
If you are a United States citizen or a resident alien who lives and works abroad, you
may qualify to exclude all or part of your foreign earnings from your income. For specific
information, refer to Tax Topic 853, Foreign Earned Income
Exclusion - General. If you would like more information on who qualifies for the
exclusion, refer to Tax Topic 854. For more information on what
type of income qualifies for the exclusion, refer to Tax Topic 855.
You may also wish to refer to Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident
Aliens Abroad. If the information you need relating to this topic is not addressed in
Publication 54, you may call the IRS National Office hotline. The number is (202)
874-1460. This is not a toll- free number.
What is the foreign tax credit?
The foreign tax credit is intended to relieve U.S. taxpayers of the double tax burden
when their foreign source income is taxed by both the United States and the foreign
country from which the income is derived. For specific information, refer to Tax Topic 856, Foreign Tax Credit, or Publication
514, Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals. If the information you need relating
to this topic is not addressed in Publication 514, you may call the IRS National Office
hotline. The number is (202) 874-1460. This is not a toll-free number.
Foreign Issues - General
Under my visa as a temporary non-resident alien, I'm not subject
to social security and Medicare withholding. My employer withheld the taxes from my pay.
What should I do to get a refund of my social security and Medicare?
If social security tax was withheld in error from pay received which was not subject to
the tax, contact the employer who withheld the tax for reimbursement. If you are unable to
get a refund from the employer, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service
on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.
Attach the following to your claim:
- a copy of the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to prove the amount of social
security tax withheld,
- a copy of INS Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record,
- a copy of INS Form I-538, Application of Nonimmigrant Student (F1) for Extension to
Stay, School Transfer or Permission to Accept or Continue Employment, and
- a statement signed by the student stating that he/she has asked the employer for
reimbursement of social security tax withheld in error but has been unable to get a
File the claim for refund (with attachments) with the IRS office where the employer's
returns were filed. If you do not know where the employer's returns were filed, file the
claim with the Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255.
For more information, refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax
Guide for Aliens.
What is the new law on gifts from foreign entities?
For gifts received after August 20, 1996, Internal Revenue Code Section 6039F states
that individuals must report each gift from a foreign person when the aggregate foreign
gifts received during any tax year exceeds $10,000, $10,276 for gifts received after 1996.
Notice 97-34 (1997-35 ORB 22) allows the 1996 Form 3520 to be
filed without incurring any penalties if it is filed by:
- November 15, 1997, with the Philadelphia Service Center, or
- The due date (including extensions) for the taxpayer's income tax return for the first
taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 1997, provided the taxpayer's income tax
return for the tax year that includes August 20, 1996, reflects the information contained
in the 1996 Form 3520.
I live in a foreign country and need a social security number
for my child. How may I obtain the Form SS-5-FS?
Form SS-5-FS may be obtained from the Social Security Web page:
My spouse is a non-resident alien. How can I get a tax
identification number for my spouse?
After 1996, each foreign person who does not have and cannot obtain a Social Security
Number must use an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on any U.S. tax
return or refund claim filed. This would include:
- filing a U.S. tax return to report U.S.-source income;
- filing a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax withheld;
- being the spouse of a U.S. citizen or resident who elects to file a joint tax return;
- being claimed as a spouse for an exemption on a U.S. tax return; or,
- being claimed as a dependent on another person's U.S. tax return.
Use IRS Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer
Identification Number, to apply for an ITIN by mail or in person at most IRS offices.
If you are unable to download the form from this web site, there are several other ways to
obtain the form: You may visit an IRS office. In the U.S., you may call 1-800-TAX FORM to
request a W-7. You may use a personal computer to download the W-7 from the IRS Bulletin
Board (known as the Internal Revenue Information System or IRIS).
Complete Form W-7 at least 5 to 6 weeks before you need an ITIN. Sign and date the form
and be sure to provide all information requested.
Provide original or certified copies of identity documents (Examples of acceptable
documents include an original passport, national identity card, etc.) Original Documents
will be returned. NOTE: If you have an INS document showing you are allowed to work
in the U.S., you are eligible for an SSN and should not file Form W-7.
Mail the completed Form W-7 and all information requested to the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia Service Center
P.O. Box 447
Bensalem, PA 19020 USA
You can apply for an ITIN at most Internal Revenue Service offices. You will find a
list of IRS offices abroad which accept the Form W-7 at the end of Publication 1915.
If you have not heard from the IRS regarding your ITIN application within 14 days after
you filed Form W-7, you may call 215-516-ITIN (215-516-4846) to find out the status of
your application. This is not a toll-free number. Be sure to have a copy of your Form W-7
application available when you call. Please allow 14 days from the date you filed Form W-7
before calling the IRS about the status of your application.
For additional information about ITINs, see Publication 1915, Understanding
Your IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
I live in a foreign country. Where may I find IRS assistance in
The IRS has a full-time permanent staff in 10 U.S. Embassies. These offices have tax
forms and publications, can help you with account problems, and answer your questions
about notices and bills. For more information about these offices please see International services on this site.
How much money can I bring into the U.S. without tax
There is no limit on the total amount of monetary instruments which may be brought into
or taken out of the United States nor is it illegal to do so. However, if you transport or
cause to be transported (including by mail or other means) more than $10,000 in monetary
instruments on any occasion into or out of the United States, or if you receive more than
that amount, you must file a report (Customs Form 4790) with U.S. Customs (Currency &
Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, 31 U.S.C. 1101, et seq.). Failure to comply can result
in civil, criminal and/or forfeiture penalties. Monetary instruments include U.S. or
foreign coin in current circulation, currency, traveler's checks in any form, money
orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form.
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