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Publication 519

U.S. Tax Guide 
for Aliens



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 QuestionsWhere 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?
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.

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Business Forms and Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. You can also send us comments from Select "Comment on Tax Forms and Publications" under "Information about."
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.

What's New for 2011(p2)

Due date of return.(p2)
If you generally must file your return by April 15, the due date for your 2011 return is April 17, 2012. The due date is April 17, instead of April 15, because April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.
Refunds of certain withholding tax delayed.(p2)
Refund requests for tax withheld and reported on Form 1042-S or Form 8805 may require additional time for processing. Allow up to 6 months for these refunds to be issued.
Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amount increased.(p2)
The AMT exemption amount has increased to $48,450 ($74,450 if married filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er); $37,225 if married filing separately).
Personal exemption increased.(p3)
For tax years beginning in 2011, the personal exemption amount is increased to $3,700.
Temporary decrease in employee's share of payroll tax.(p3)
For 2011, social security tax was withheld from an employee's wages at the rate of 4.2% (down from 6.2%) up to the social security wage limit of $106,800. There was no change to Medicare withholding.
The same reduction applies to net earnings from self-employment—the temporary rate for the social security portion of self-employment tax will be 10.4% (down from 12.4%) up to the social security wage limit of $106,800.
Changes to self-employment tax.(p3)
There are significant changes in computing self-employment tax and the corresponding income tax deduction for a portion of self-employment tax paid in 2011.
Self-employment tax reduced. For 2011, the self-employment tax rate has been reduced to from 15.3% to 13.3%.
Self-employment health insurance deduction. The deduction is no longer allowed on Schedule SE (Form 1040). However, you can still take it on Form 1040 or Form 1040NR, line 29.
SE tax deduction. For 2011, the SE tax deduction is revised to reflect an employer's equivalent portion of tax. Previously, the deduction was equal to one-half of self-employment tax.
Foreign financial assets.(p3)
If you had foreign financial assets in 2011, you may have to file new Form 8938 with your return. For more information, see Form 8938 in chapter 7.
Future developments.(p3)
The IRS has created a page on for information about Publication 519 at Information about any future developments affecting Publication 519 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on that page.

What's New for 2012(p3)

Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amounts.(p3)
The AMT exemption amount will decrease to $33,750 ($45,000 if married filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er); $22,500 if married filing separately).
Personal exemption increased.(p3)
For tax years beginning in 2012, the personal exemption amount is increased to $3,800.
New rules for portfolio interest.(p3)
The rules determining whether interest is considered portfolio interest have changed for obligations issued after March 18, 2012. Generally, interest paid on nonregistered(bearer) bonds will not be treated as portfolio interest.
Expiration of exemption on certain interest-related dividends.(p3)
The exemption from tax on certain interest-related dividends from sources within the United States that you receive from a mutual fund or other regulated investment company expires for dividends with respect to any taxable year of the company beginning after December 31, 2011. See Dividend Income in chapter 3 for more information.
Expiration of exemption on certain short-term capital gain dividends.(p3)
The exemption from tax on certain short-term capital gain dividends from sources within the United States that you receive from a mutual fund or other regulated investment company expires for dividends with respect to any taxable year of the company beginning after December 31, 2011. See Dividend Income in chapter 3 for more information.


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 return instructions for details.
Change of address.(p3)
If you change your mailing address, be sure to notify the Internal Revenue Service using Form 8822, Change of Address.
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.