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IRS.gov Website
Publication 519
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222411

Filing Status(p26)

rule
The amount of your tax depends on your filing status. Your filing status is important in determining whether you can take certain deductions and credits. The rules for determining your filing status are different for resident aliens and nonresident aliens.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222412

Resident Aliens(p26)

rule
Resident aliens can use the same filing statuses available to U.S. citizens. See your form instructions or Publication 501 for more information on filing status.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222413

Married filing jointly.(p26)

rule
Generally, you can file as married filing jointly only if both you and your spouse were resident aliens for the entire tax year, or if you make one of the choices discussed in chapter 1 to treat your spouse as a resident alien for the entire tax year.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222414

Qualifying widow(er).(p26)

rule
If your spouse died in 2009 or 2010, you did not remarry before the end of 2011, and you have a dependent child living with you, you may qualify to file as a qualifying widow(er) and use the joint return tax rates. This applies only if you could have filed a joint return with your spouse for the year your spouse died.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222415

Head of household.(p26)

rule
You can qualify as head of household if you are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year and you pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home for you and a qualifying person. You must be a resident alien for the entire tax year.
You are considered unmarried for this purpose if your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you do not make one of the choices discussed in chapter 1 to treat your spouse as a resident alien for the entire tax year.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222416
Note.(p26)
Even if you are considered unmarried for head of household purposes because you are married to a nonresident alien, you may still be considered married for purposes of the earned income credit. In that case, you will not be entitled to the credit. See Publication 596 for more information.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222417

Nonresident Aliens(p26)

rule
If you are a nonresident alien filing Form 1040NR, you may be able to use one of the filing statuses discussed later. If you are filing Form 1040NR-EZ, you can only claim "Single nonresident alien" or "Married nonresident alien" as your filing status.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222418

Married nonresident alien.(p26)

rule
Married nonresident aliens who are not married to U.S. citizens or residents generally must use the Tax Table column or the Tax Computation Worksheet for married filing separate returns when determining the tax on income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222419
Exceptions.(p26)
Married nonresident aliens normally cannot use the Tax Table column or the Tax Computation Worksheet for single individuals. However, you may be able to file as single if you lived apart from your spouse during the last 6 months of the year and you are a married resident of Canada, Mexico, South Korea, or are a married U.S. national. See the instructions for Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ to see if you qualify. U.S. national is defined later in this section under Qualifying widow(er).
A nonresident alien generally cannot file as married filing jointly. However, a nonresident alien who is married to a U.S. citizen or resident can choose to be treated as a resident and file a joint return on Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ. For information on these choices, see chapter 1. If you do not make the choice to file jointly, file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ and use the Tax Table column or the Tax Computation Worksheet for married individuals filing separately.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222422

Qualifying widow(er).(p27)

rule
You may be eligible to file as a qualifying widow(er) and use the joint return tax rates if all of the following conditions apply.
  1. You were a resident of Canada, Mexico, or South Korea, or a U.S. national (defined later).
  2. Your spouse died in 2009 or 2010 and you did not remarry before the end of 2011.
  3. You have a dependent child living with you.
See the instructions for Form 1040NR for the rules for filing as a qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.
A U.S. national is an individual who, although not a U.S. citizen, owes his or her allegiance to the United States. U.S. nationals include American Samoans and Northern Mariana Islanders who chose to become U.S. nationals instead of U.S. citizens.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222423

Head of household.(p27)

rule
You cannot file as head of household if you are a nonresident alien at any time during the tax year. However, if you are married, your spouse can qualify as a head of household if:
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222425
Note.(p27)
Even if your spouse is considered unmarried for head of household purposes because you are a nonresident alien, your spouse may still be considered married for purposes of the earned income credit. In that case, your spouse will not be entitled to the credit. See Publication 596 for more information.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222426

Estates and trusts.(p27)

rule
A nonresident alien estate or trust using Form 1040NR must use Tax Rate Schedule W in the Form 1040NR instructions when determining the tax on income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.
taxmap/pubs/p519-019.htm#en_us_publink1000222427

Special rules for aliens from certain U.S. possessions.(p27)

rule
A nonresident alien who is a bona fide resident of American Samoa or Puerto Rico for the entire tax year and who is temporarily working in the United States should read Bona Fide Residents of American Samoa or Puerto Rico, at the end of this chapter, for information about special rules.