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ruben1
New Member

Resident wife didnt work in 2016, foreigner husband wired money to joint bank account the whole year to pay the bills. How do we proceed?

husband is applying for a green card through marriage but has never lived in the USA, his income is from his home country.
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Accepted Solutions
GeoffreyG
New Member

Resident wife didnt work in 2016, foreigner husband wired money to joint bank account the whole year to pay the bills. How do we proceed?

The answer to your question is as follows.

Normally, where you are a United States citizen (or a resident alien) and are married to a non-citizen, who cannot otherwise qualify as a resident alien under either the Substantial Presence Test or the Green Card Test (as explained at the IRS link directly below), then you have some options on how to file your US tax return, although current United States tax laws do not make this process particularly easy.

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/determining-alien-tax-status

 

If your spouse can qualify as a resident alien, then the two of you together could file a normal Married Filing Joint income tax return (or the two of you could alternatively file as Marred Filing Separately).  Basically, if your spouse can qualify as a resident alien, then your spouse is essentially treated as a regular US citizen for tax purposes.

It is also helpful to point out that you cannot file a tax return as Single, and ignore your spouse, regardless of residency status.  (We mention that fact because we are sometimes asked.)  Additionally, it is useful to know that the IRS considers those persons who are married as of midnight on December 31st of the year to have been married the whole entire year, for income tax purposes.  That said, here are the (2) broad filing choices available to you.


Option # 1:  You can file your US tax return as Married Filing Separately, and just report your own income there.  TurboTax can walk you through this process, and help you create the necessary Form 1040.  If your spouse does not already have an ITIN number, or a Social Security Number, then this return would have to further be printed and paper filed.  If your spouse has a valid ITIN or SSN, then the tax return would be eligible for e-filing.

If there is no ITIN or SSN, then in any place where the nonresident spouse's taxpayer ID number is required on a tax form, you would take a black or blue pen and manually write "nonresident alien" or abbreviate as "NRA."  In the TurboTax software, you can input any "made up" SSN or ITIN you want to, in order get through the program (we suggest 999-88-9999, 999-88-9998 or 999-88-9987, as those numbers won’t produce any TurboTax program errors in a review check) as a temporary "placeholder.”  You can then later "white out" that number when the paper pages are printed.

You can also claim a personal exemption for your spouse, if your spouse had no gross taxable income for U.S. tax purposes, and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.  This mirrors the similar rule for US citizens and resident aliens filing as Married Filing Separately to claim the personal (dependency) exemption for their spouse, where that spouse has no taxable income, is not filing a separate tax return, and is not claimed as a dependent on any other taxpayer’s return.  But, in order to do this and claim the personal exemption, your spouse must also have a valid Social Security Number or an ITIN.

 

Option # 2:  You can elect to include your nonresident spouse on your US income tax return (which may be more or less tax favorable than Married Filing Separately); and file as Married Filing Jointly; but you would need to file a paper Form 1040 tax return in order to do so.  The somewhat complicated process for completing this type of tax return is explained in detail at the IRS.gov website here:

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/u-s-citizens-and-resident-aliens-abroad...


Such a tax return (Option # 2) is probably best done by a professional tax preparer.

However, with all of that information made clear, if the US resident spouse had no taxable income of her own during the year, then she doesn't even need to file a tax return at all.  If the non-citizen spouse resided all year abroad, and his income was from non-US sources, then he won't have to file a US tax return either.

There is no tax return due, or special disclosure required either, for a joint US bank account, owned and accessible by both spouses.  However, if the bank account in question is located in a foreign (non-US) country, and the US resident spouse has access to it, then there may be a disclosure necessary under separate rules.  In fact, there are two separate disclosure forms that could be required; each also has different reporting rules.


One document is known as IRS Form 8938, and the other is FinCen Form 114.  The following Internal Revenue Service webpage describes them in some detail, and provides their dollar value reporting levels:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/comparison-of-form-8938-and-fbar-requirements


Thank you for asking this important question.

View solution in original post

1 Reply
GeoffreyG
New Member

Resident wife didnt work in 2016, foreigner husband wired money to joint bank account the whole year to pay the bills. How do we proceed?

The answer to your question is as follows.

Normally, where you are a United States citizen (or a resident alien) and are married to a non-citizen, who cannot otherwise qualify as a resident alien under either the Substantial Presence Test or the Green Card Test (as explained at the IRS link directly below), then you have some options on how to file your US tax return, although current United States tax laws do not make this process particularly easy.

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/determining-alien-tax-status

 

If your spouse can qualify as a resident alien, then the two of you together could file a normal Married Filing Joint income tax return (or the two of you could alternatively file as Marred Filing Separately).  Basically, if your spouse can qualify as a resident alien, then your spouse is essentially treated as a regular US citizen for tax purposes.

It is also helpful to point out that you cannot file a tax return as Single, and ignore your spouse, regardless of residency status.  (We mention that fact because we are sometimes asked.)  Additionally, it is useful to know that the IRS considers those persons who are married as of midnight on December 31st of the year to have been married the whole entire year, for income tax purposes.  That said, here are the (2) broad filing choices available to you.


Option # 1:  You can file your US tax return as Married Filing Separately, and just report your own income there.  TurboTax can walk you through this process, and help you create the necessary Form 1040.  If your spouse does not already have an ITIN number, or a Social Security Number, then this return would have to further be printed and paper filed.  If your spouse has a valid ITIN or SSN, then the tax return would be eligible for e-filing.

If there is no ITIN or SSN, then in any place where the nonresident spouse's taxpayer ID number is required on a tax form, you would take a black or blue pen and manually write "nonresident alien" or abbreviate as "NRA."  In the TurboTax software, you can input any "made up" SSN or ITIN you want to, in order get through the program (we suggest 999-88-9999, 999-88-9998 or 999-88-9987, as those numbers won’t produce any TurboTax program errors in a review check) as a temporary "placeholder.”  You can then later "white out" that number when the paper pages are printed.

You can also claim a personal exemption for your spouse, if your spouse had no gross taxable income for U.S. tax purposes, and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.  This mirrors the similar rule for US citizens and resident aliens filing as Married Filing Separately to claim the personal (dependency) exemption for their spouse, where that spouse has no taxable income, is not filing a separate tax return, and is not claimed as a dependent on any other taxpayer’s return.  But, in order to do this and claim the personal exemption, your spouse must also have a valid Social Security Number or an ITIN.

 

Option # 2:  You can elect to include your nonresident spouse on your US income tax return (which may be more or less tax favorable than Married Filing Separately); and file as Married Filing Jointly; but you would need to file a paper Form 1040 tax return in order to do so.  The somewhat complicated process for completing this type of tax return is explained in detail at the IRS.gov website here:

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/u-s-citizens-and-resident-aliens-abroad...


Such a tax return (Option # 2) is probably best done by a professional tax preparer.

However, with all of that information made clear, if the US resident spouse had no taxable income of her own during the year, then she doesn't even need to file a tax return at all.  If the non-citizen spouse resided all year abroad, and his income was from non-US sources, then he won't have to file a US tax return either.

There is no tax return due, or special disclosure required either, for a joint US bank account, owned and accessible by both spouses.  However, if the bank account in question is located in a foreign (non-US) country, and the US resident spouse has access to it, then there may be a disclosure necessary under separate rules.  In fact, there are two separate disclosure forms that could be required; each also has different reporting rules.


One document is known as IRS Form 8938, and the other is FinCen Form 114.  The following Internal Revenue Service webpage describes them in some detail, and provides their dollar value reporting levels:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/comparison-of-form-8938-and-fbar-requirements


Thank you for asking this important question.

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