1997 Tax Help Archives  

Alien Tax Clearance

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

If you are either a resident or a nonresident alien departing the United States, you will usually have to show your compliance with the U.S. income tax laws. You do this by obtaining a tax clearance document, commonly called a "Sailing Permit" or "departure permit", from the IRS.

Some aliens do not need a sailing permit. To find out whether you belong in this category, order Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

If you do not have taxable income, or you are a resident alien who is leaving only temporarily, use Form 2063 to apply for a sailing permit. If you are a resident alien leaving the United States with no definite plans to return for the year, you will have to complete Form 1040-C, U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return, in order to get a sailing permit. Nonresident aliens who have any taxable income will also have to complete Form 1040-C to receive a sailing permit. You must pay all tax shown as due on the Form 1040-C unless you furnish a bond or an employer letter guaranteeing payment, or the IRS is satisfied that your leaving will not jeopardize collection of the tax. Any tax you pay counts as a payment on your final return that you file after the end of your tax year.

Apply for the sailing permit no earlier than 30 days before you plan to leave. You should apply at least two weeks in advance of your departure. To get your sailing permit, visit your nearest walk-in IRS office. If you are married to an alien who is leaving the country with you, both of you must go to the IRS office.

You must bring with you all the following records and information for the current year, that apply:

  • A valid passport and your alien registration card or visa,
  • Copies of the last two years' income tax returns with proof of payment of any balance due,
  • A statement from each current employer showing the wages paid and tax withheld from January 1 of the current year to the date of departure. For this statement you can use a payroll deduction slip for your last paycheck if it shows this information,
  • If you are self-employed, a profit and loss statement for the current year to the date of departure,
  • Documents showing any gain or loss from the sale of personal property, including capital assets and merchandise,
  • Proof of tax payments for the past year and this year,
  • Documents concerning scholarships or fellowships,
  • Documents indicating that you qualify for special tax treaty benefits,
  • Substantiation of deductions for business expenses and itemized deductions; and
  • Documentation for dependents claimed.

If you have these documents and pay any tax due you should receive your sailing permit immediately. For more information, order Publication 519 by calling 1-800-829-3676.

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