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Can I claim my wife and child if they are not citizens and live abroad?

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Intuit Alumni

Can I claim my wife and child if they are not citizens and live abroad?

You can file jointly with a nonresident spouse if you apply for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) with  Form W-7 - IRS.gov (IRS - W7 Instructions) and make an election to file a joint return with your nonresident spouse.

Or you can file married filing separately and enter NRA as her SSN/ITIN on your US tax return before mailing. 

You cannot claim your child as your child is not a US resident.

Filing Separately.  Where asked to enter the spouse's Social Security number in TurboTax enter 999-88-9999.  You can only print and mail your tax return, it cannot be e-filed.  When you print the tax return "white out" the dummy Social Security number for your spouse and manually enter NRA for non-resident alien.

See this TurboTax support FAQ for the procedure to print and mail a tax return using the online editions - https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1944348-how-do-i-print-and-mail-my-return-in-turbotax-online

If you do want to file married filing jointly,

  • enter a dummy SSN in TurboTax and print a paper copy of your tax return (white out the dummy SSN) and write "applied for" next to the space for her SSN.
  • under the file tab, you will need to select "file by mail" and print a copy of your federal income tax return.
  • attach a statement, signed by both spouses, to your joint return for the first tax year for which the choice applies (Nonresident Spouse Treated as a Resident). It should contain the following information:
    •  A declaration that one spouse was a non-resident 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.  See page 8 of  Publication 519
  • apply for NRA spouse’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) using Form W-7 (Click ITIN). (You will need to apply for a ITIN if filing married filing separately and taking an exemption for NRA spouse and that NRA spouse does not have a SSN. (see option 3 below))
  • attach a copy of your Form W-7 (along with the necessary supporting documents) to your tax return (For the supporting documents, one option is for your NRA spouse to get a certified copy of his/her passport which will need to be included with your tax return filing.) Click here for IRS website  ITIN - Frequently Asked Questions .
  • mail your tax return along with your declaration statement, Form W-7 and supporting documents to the IRS. According to the IRS, because you are filing your tax return as an attachment to your (ITIN) application, you should not mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your return, Form W-7 and proof of identity and foreign status documents to:

         Internal Revenue Service
         Austin Service Center
         ITIN Operation
         P.O. Box 149342
         Austin, TX 78714-9342 

    You may also apply for an ITIN using the services of an IRS-authorized
    Acceptance Agent or visit some key IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in lieu of mailing your information to the IRS in Austin.
  • State filing - You will want to file an extension for your state until you receive your ITIN. This is because the application for your ITIN is a federal filing. Most state will not process your return without either a SSN or an ITIN. (However some states will accept state filings with W-7 attachments. Please contact your state for more information using the State Department of Revenue Contacts and ask if your state will accept a state tax return with a Form W-7 attached).  
    You will not be able to e-file your state return since you are not e-filing your federal return.
    Because many states give an automatic extension when you file the federal extension
    Form 4868, just file a federal extension even if you don't think you will need it for your federal tax return.  But check with your state's Department of Revenue to make sure that your state doesn't have a separate state extension filing.

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