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skhoury87
New Member

Do I need to apply for an ITIN for my spouse who is not a U.S. resident (living with me in China) and therefore not a taxpayer?

If I don't need to, then how should I submit my spouses personal info. on the 1040 without the social security number? Thank you.

1 Best answer

Accepted Solutions
GeoffreyG
New Member

Do I need to apply for an ITIN for my spouse who is not a U.S. resident (living with me in China) and therefore not a taxpayer?

You can apply for an ITIN number for your spouse living in China; but depending how you file your United States tax return, it may not be necessary.  Please allow us to explain in the detailed answer below.  There is a lot of information contained here.

If you are a United States citizen (or a Permanent Resident) and are married to a non-citizen, then you have some options on how to file your USA tax return, although current United States tax laws do not make this process particularly easy.


Option # 1:  You can file your US tax return as Married Filing Separately (which is usually a somewhat unfavorable tax filing status), 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."

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.

If you choose Option # 1 and have any difficultly with that, then having the tax return prepared by a professional is also an option here too.

TurboTax has a helpful Frequently Asked Questions webpage about this subject, and you may wish to look at that as well.  Here is the link:

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Taxes-101/Claiming-a-Non-Citizen-Spouse-and-Children-...


Also, you can read the complete answer to a similar question that was asked here about a year ago.  There is some good information and advice in there as well:

https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/3089728-how-can-i-file-taxes-with-my-new-foreign-spouse-who-doesn-...

Thank you for asking this important question.


View solution in original post

1 Reply
GeoffreyG
New Member

Do I need to apply for an ITIN for my spouse who is not a U.S. resident (living with me in China) and therefore not a taxpayer?

You can apply for an ITIN number for your spouse living in China; but depending how you file your United States tax return, it may not be necessary.  Please allow us to explain in the detailed answer below.  There is a lot of information contained here.

If you are a United States citizen (or a Permanent Resident) and are married to a non-citizen, then you have some options on how to file your USA tax return, although current United States tax laws do not make this process particularly easy.


Option # 1:  You can file your US tax return as Married Filing Separately (which is usually a somewhat unfavorable tax filing status), 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."

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.

If you choose Option # 1 and have any difficultly with that, then having the tax return prepared by a professional is also an option here too.

TurboTax has a helpful Frequently Asked Questions webpage about this subject, and you may wish to look at that as well.  Here is the link:

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Taxes-101/Claiming-a-Non-Citizen-Spouse-and-Children-...


Also, you can read the complete answer to a similar question that was asked here about a year ago.  There is some good information and advice in there as well:

https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/3089728-how-can-i-file-taxes-with-my-new-foreign-spouse-who-doesn-...

Thank you for asking this important question.


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