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.
You are considered a resident alien if you met one of two tests for the calendar year.
The first test is the "green card test". If at any time during the calendar
year you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, according to the
immigration laws, and this status has not been revoked, you are considered to have met the
green card test.
The second test is the "substantial presence test". To meet this test, you
must have been physically present in the United States on at least 31 days during the
current calendar year, and 183 days during the current year and the two preceding calendar
years. To satisfy the 183 day requirement, count all of the days present in the current
year, only one-third of the days you were present during the preceding year, and only
one-sixth of the days you were present during the year before. Do not count any day you
were present in the United States as an "exempt individual". An exempt
individual may be anyone in the following categories:
- A foreign government-related individual,
- A teacher or trainee with a J visa,
- A student, with an F, J, M, or Q visa; or
- A professional athlete present only to compete in a charitable sports event.
Also, do not count any day you were present in the United States only because of a
medical condition. You are treated as not meeting the substantial presence test for the
current year if you are present in the United States for fewer than 183 days during the
current calendar year, you maintain a tax home in a foreign country during the year, and
have a closer connection to that country than to the United States. This does not apply if
you have applied for status as a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or you
have an application pending for adjustment of status. Sometimes, a tax treaty between the
United States and another country will provide special rules for determining residency. An
alien whose status changes during the year from resident to nonresident, or vice versa,
generally has a dual status for that year, and is taxed on the income for the two periods
under the provisions of the law that apply to each period. Topic 852
provides more information on the dual status tax year.
If you are a nonresident alien, you must file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ if you are engaged in a trade
or business in the United States or have any other U.S. source income on which the tax was
not fully paid by the amount withheld. If you had wages subject to income tax withholding,
the return for 1997 is due by April 15, 1998, provided you file on a calendar-year basis.
If you did not have wages subject to withholding and file on a calendar-year basis, you
are required to file your 1997 return by June 15, 1998. File Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ
with the Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19255-0002.
If you are a resident alien, you must follow the same tax laws as U.S. citizens. You
are taxed on income from all sources, both within and outside the United States. You will
file Form 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040 depending on your tax situation. The return for 1997 is due by
April 15, 1998, and should be filed with the service center for your area.
For more information order Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide
for Aliens, by calling 1-800-829-3676. 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 toll-free number.
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