For tax purposes, an alien is an individual who is not a U.S. citizen. Aliens are classified as nonresident aliens and resident aliens. This publication will help you determine your status and give you information you will need to file your U.S. tax return. Resident aliens generally are taxed on their worldwide income, the same as U.S. citizens. Nonresident aliens are taxed only on their income from sources within the United States and on certain income connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States.
Table A, Where To Find What You Need To Know About U.S. Taxes, provides a list of questions and the chapter or chapters in this publication where you will find the related discussion.
Table A. Where To Find What You Need To Know About U.S. Taxes
|Commonly Asked Questions||Where To Find The Answer|
|Am I a nonresident alien or resident alien?||See chapter 1. |
|Can I be a nonresident alien and a resident alien in the same year?|| |
|I am a resident alien and my spouse is a nonresident alien. Are there special rules for us?|| |
- See Nonresident Spouse Treated as a Resident in chapter 1.
- See Community Income in chapter 2.
|Is all my income subject to U.S. tax?|| |
|Is my scholarship subject to U.S. tax?|| |
|What is the tax rate on my income subject to U.S. tax?||See chapter 4. |
|I moved to the United States this year. Can I deduct my moving expenses on my U.S. return?||See Deductions in chapter 5. |
|Can I claim exemptions for my spouse and children?||See Exemptions in chapter 5. |
|I pay income taxes to my home country. Can I get credit for these taxes on my U.S. tax return?||See Tax Credits and Payments in chapter 5. |
|What forms must I file and when and where do I file them?||See chapter 7. |
|How should I pay my U.S. income taxes?||See chapter 8. |
|Am I eligible for any benefits under a tax treaty?|| |
|Are employees of foreign governments and international organizations exempt from U.S. tax?||See chapter 10. |
|Is there anything special I have to do before leaving the United States?|| |
Answers to frequently asked questions are presented in the back of the publication.
The information in this publication is not as comprehensive for resident aliens as it is for nonresident aliens. Resident aliens are generally treated the same as U.S. citizens and can find more information in other IRS publications.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink100038919
We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
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Internal Revenue Service
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If you have a tax question, check the information available on www.irs.gov
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New rules for former U.S. citizens and former U.S long-term residents.(p2)
If you expatriated after June 16, 2008, new rules apply regarding reporting your income and paying U.S. tax. These rules are explained in chapter 4 under Expatriation After June 16, 2008.
Withholding on foreign partners.(p2)
A foreign partner can provide to a partnership a certification to reduce or eliminate the partnership's withholding tax obligation under section 1446 on the partner's allocable share of effectively connected taxable income from the partnership. Any certificate (including any updated certificates and status reports) submitted, or required to be submitted, after July 28, 2008, must comply with Regulations section 1.1446-6.
The foreign partner must use Form 8804-C, Certificate of Partner-Level Items to Reduce Section 1446 Withholding. The partner gives the form to the partnership. For more information, including when the partnership has to file the form with the IRS, see the instructions for Form 8804-C.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink100038925
Interest-related dividends and short-term capital gain dividends received from mutual funds.(p3)
The exemption from 30% tax on certain interest-related dividends and short-term capital gain dividends received from a mutual fund or other regulated investment company has been extended through 2009. See Dividend Income
in chapter 3.
IRA deduction increased.(p3)
You may be able to deduct up to $5,000 ($6,000 if age 50 or older at the end of the year). You may be able to take an IRA deduction if you were covered by a retirement plan and your 2008 modified AGI is less than $63,000 ($105,000 if married filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er)).taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink100038928
Personal exemption and itemized deduction phaseouts reduced.(p3)
Taxpayers with adjusted gross income above a certain amount may lose part of their deduction for personal exemptions and itemized deductions. The amount by which these deductions are reduced in 2008 will be only 1/2 of the amount of the reduction that otherwise would have applied in 2007.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000150492
Tax rate on qualified dividends and net capital gain reduced.(p3)
The 5% tax rate on qualified dividends and net capital gain is reduced to zero. For nonresident aliens, this applies only to qualified dividends and net capital gain that are effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000150500
First-time homebuyer credit.(p3)
If you are a resident alien, you may be able to claim a credit of up to $7,500 ($8,000 if you purchased your home in 2009) if:
- You purchased your main home located in the United States after April 8, 2008, and before December 1, 2009.
- You (and your spouse if married) did not own any other main home during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase.
See Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit, for more information.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000150497
Tax relief for Kansas disaster area.(p3)
Temporary tax relief was enacted as a result of the May 4, 2007, storms and tornadoes that affected the Kansas disaster area. The tax benefits provided by this relief include suspended limits for certain personal casualty losses and special rules for withdrawals and loans from IRAs and other qualified retirement plans. For more details on these and other tax benefits related to the Kansas disaster area, see Pub. 4492-A.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000150498
Tax relief for Midwestern disaster areas.(p3)
Temporary tax relief was enacted as a result of severe storms, tornadoes, or flooding that affected Midwestern disaster areas. The tax benefits provided by this relief include the following:
- Suspended limits for certain personal casualty losses and cash contributions.
- An additional exemption amount if you provided housing for a person displaced by the Midwestern storms, tornadoes, or flooding.
- An election to use your 2007 earned income to figure your 2008 additional child tax credit.
- An increased charitable standard mileage rate for using your vehicle for volunteer work related to the Midwestern storms, tornadoes, or flooding.
- Special rules for time and support tests for people who were temporarily relocated because of the Midwestern storms, tornadoes, or flooding.
- Special rules for withdrawals and loans from IRAs and other qualified retirement plans.
For more details on these and other tax benefits related to the Midwestern disaster areas, see Pub. 4492-B.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink100038932
IRA deduction expanded.(p3)
You may be able to take an IRA deduction if you were covered by a retirement plan and your 2009 modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $65,000 ($109,000 if married filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er)).taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000150501
Making work pay credit.(p3)
If you are a resident alien who had earned income in 2009, you may be eligible for a refundable tax credit. The credit is the lesser of:
- 6.2% of your earned income for 2009, or
- $400 ($800 in the case of a joint return).
For details, see Internal Revenue Code section 36A.
Portion of unemployment compensation not taxable.(p3)
The first $2,400 of unemployment compensation for 2009 is exempt from federal income tax. Any unemployment compensation over $2,400 is taxable.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000150503
New deduction for sales and excise taxes on motor vehicles.(p3)
Resident aliens may be able to deduct state or local sales and excise taxes paid on the purchase of new cars, light trucks, motor homes, and motorcycles after February 16, 2009, as an itemized deduction or as part of the standard deduction. For details, see Internal Revenue Code sections 63 and 164.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000151110
Third party designee.(p3)
You can check the "Yes" box in the "Third Party Designee" area of your return to authorize the IRS to discuss your return with a friend, family member, or any other person you choose. This allows the IRS to call the person you identified as your designee to answer any questions that may arise during the processing of your return. It also allows your designee to perform certain actions such as asking the IRS for copies of notices or transcripts related to your return. Also, the authorization can be revoked. See your income tax package for details.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000151111
Change of address.(p3)
If you change your mailing address, be sure to notify the Internal Revenue Service using Form 8822, Change of Address.taxmap/pubs/p519-000.htm#en_us_publink1000151112
Photographs of missing children.(p3)
The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.