If, at the end of your tax year, you are married and one spouse is a U.S. citizen or a resident alien and the other spouse is a nonresident alien, you can choose to treat the nonresident spouse as a U.S. resident. This includes situations in which one spouse is a nonresident alien at the beginning of the tax year, but a resident alien at the end of the year, and the other spouse is a nonresident alien at the end of the year.
If you make this choice, you and your spouse are treated for income tax purposes as residents for your entire tax year. Neither you nor your spouse can claim under any tax treaty not to be a U.S. resident. You are both taxed on worldwide income. You must file a joint income tax return for the year you make the choice, but you and your spouse can file joint or separate returns in later years.
If you file a joint return under this provision, the special instructions and restrictions for dual-status taxpayers in chapter 6 do not apply to you.
Bob and Sharon Williams are married and both are nonresident aliens at the beginning of the year. In June, Bob became a resident alien and remained a resident for the rest of the year. Bob and Sharon both choose to be treated as resident aliens by attaching a statement to their joint return. Bob and Sharon must file a joint return for the year they make the choice, but they can file either joint or separate returns for later years. taxmap/pubs/p519-004.htm#en_us_publink100038994
Attach a statement, signed by both spouses, to your joint return for the first tax year for which the choice applies. It should contain the following information.
- A declaration that one spouse was a nonresident alien and the other spouse a U.S. citizen or resident alien on the last day of your tax year, and that you choose to be treated as U.S. residents for the entire tax year.
- The name, address, and identification number of each spouse. (If one spouse died, include the name and address of the person making the choice for the deceased spouse.)
You generally make this choice when you file your joint return. However, you can also make the choice by filing a joint amended return on Form 1040X. Attach Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ and print "Amended" across the top of the corrected return. If you make the choice with an amended return, you and your spouse must also amend any returns that you may have filed after the year for which you made the choice.
You generally must file the amended joint return within 3 years from the date you filed your original U.S. income tax return or 2 years from the date you paid your income tax for that year, whichever is later. taxmap/pubs/p519-004.htm#en_us_publink100038996
The choice to be treated as a resident alien is suspended for any tax year (after the tax year you made the choice) if neither spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident alien at any time during the tax year. This means each spouse must file a separate return as a nonresident alien for that year if either meets the filing requirements for nonresident aliens discussed in chapter 7.
Dick Brown was a resident alien on December 31, 2005, and married to Judy, a nonresident alien. They chose to treat Judy as a resident alien and filed joint 2005 and 2006 income tax returns. On January 10, 2007, Dick became a nonresident alien. Judy had remained a nonresident alien throughout the period. Dick and Judy could have filed joint or separate returns for 2007 because Dick was a resident alien for part of that year. However, because neither Dick nor Judy is a resident alien at any time during 2008, their choice is suspended for that year. If either meets the filing requirements for nonresident aliens discussed in chapter 7, they must file separate returns as nonresident aliens for 2008. If Dick becomes a resident alien again in 2009, their choice is no longer suspended. taxmap/pubs/p519-004.htm#en_us_publink100038998
Once made, the choice to be treated as a resident applies to all later years unless suspended (as explained earlier under Suspending the Choice
) or ended in one of the following ways.
If the choice is ended in one of the following ways, neither spouse can make this choice in any later tax year.
- Revocation. Either spouse can revoke the choice for any tax year, provided he or she makes the revocation by the due date for filing the tax return for that tax year. The spouse who revokes the choice must attach a signed statement declaring that the choice is being revoked. The statement must include the name, address, and identification number of each spouse. (If one spouse dies, include the name and address of the person who is revoking the choice for the deceased spouse.) The statement also must include a list of any states, foreign countries, and possessions that have community property laws in which either spouse is domiciled or where real property is located from which either spouse receives income. File the statement as follows.
- If the spouse revoking the choice must file a return, attach the statement to the return for the first year the revocation applies.
- If the spouse revoking the choice does not have to file a return, but does file a return (for example, to obtain a refund), attach the statement to the return.
- If the spouse revoking the choice does not have to file a return and does not file a claim for refund, send the statement to the Internal Revenue Service Center where you filed the last joint return.
- Death. The death of either spouse ends the choice, beginning with the first tax year following the year the spouse died. However, if the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident and is entitled to the joint tax rates as a surviving spouse, the choice will not end until the close of the last year for which these joint rates may be used. If both spouses die in the same tax year, the choice ends on the first day after the close of the tax year in which the spouses died.
- Legal separation. A legal separation under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance ends the choice as of the beginning of the tax year in which the legal separation occurs.
- Inadequate records. The Internal Revenue Service can end the choice for any tax year that either spouse has failed to keep adequate books, records, and other information necessary to determine the correct income tax liability, or to provide adequate access to those records.