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converg84
Returning Member

I was civilly married abroad to a foreign citizen. Should I file single or married? If married, separately or joint?

 
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Accepted Solutions
SusanY1
Employee Tax Expert

I was civilly married abroad to a foreign citizen. Should I file single or married? If married, separately or joint?

If you were married on the last day of the year, you must either file your tax return using the Married Filing Jointly filing status or the Married Filing Separately status unless you qualify to file as Head of Household.  Click on this link to see if you are eligible for Head of Household filing status: Do I Qualify to file Head of Household

 

You cannot file using the filing status Single.

 

 

 

Married Filing Jointly with a nonresident alien spouse

 

 

If you choose this option, you will need to include ALL of your spouse's worldwide income on your tax return.  The income will be subject to U.S. tax.  However, you may be able to take credits for any taxes your spouse paid on the foreign income.  To file jointly with your spouse, you will follow these steps:

 

  1. Prepare your return as you normally would in TurboTax.  Enter your spouse's name and ignore the errors regarding missing SSN/ITIN.
  2. Select "File by Mail" rather than e-File in the last step of your return.
  3. Print your return.
  4. Attach a statement to your return, signed by both of you that states that one of you is a U.S. citizen and the other is a nonresident alien and that you are electing to both be treated as U.S. residents for tax purposes. Include the full name and address of each spouse on this letter, as well as your social security number.  (Note: this does not affect the nonresident alien's immigration status.) 
  5. Fill out Form W-7 (You can find it here: Form W-7) and attach this form, as well as all necessary documentation, to the tax return.
  6. Mail the return to the address specified in the instructions for Form W-7 (found here Form W-7 instructions).  Do not mail your return to the address in the TurboTax instructions.

 

 

Married Filing Separately with a nonresident alien spouse

 

 

If you do not elect to treat your spouse as a resident for tax purposes, you do not have to include her income on your return. However, you will have a lower standard deduction, and you may not be able to claim certain other tax benefits.  To file using this status, follow all of the same steps above except step 4, attaching the statement to make the election to be treated as a resident alien.

 

 

The IRS will process your return and issue an ITIN to your spouse. After this year, you will be able to file your return electronically using your spouse's ITIN.

 

 

Once you make the election to treat a nonresident alien as a resident for tax purposes, this election stays in effect until it is suspended or revoked.  Also, it is a once in a lifetime election. Once revoked, the nonresident alien spouse cannot elect to be treated as a resident in the future, even if married to someone else.   Learn more about this by clicking on this link IRS information for nonresident alien spouses.

 

Additional note:  If you live in a state with an income tax - file an extension for your state.  You must wait for your spouse's ITIN to file your state return.  

 

 Congratulations and Best Wishes on your marriage!

 

**Say "Thanks" by clicking the thumb icon in a post
**Mark the post that answers your question by clicking on "Mark as Best Answer"

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2 Replies
SusanY1
Employee Tax Expert

I was civilly married abroad to a foreign citizen. Should I file single or married? If married, separately or joint?

If you were married on the last day of the year, you must either file your tax return using the Married Filing Jointly filing status or the Married Filing Separately status unless you qualify to file as Head of Household.  Click on this link to see if you are eligible for Head of Household filing status: Do I Qualify to file Head of Household

 

You cannot file using the filing status Single.

 

 

 

Married Filing Jointly with a nonresident alien spouse

 

 

If you choose this option, you will need to include ALL of your spouse's worldwide income on your tax return.  The income will be subject to U.S. tax.  However, you may be able to take credits for any taxes your spouse paid on the foreign income.  To file jointly with your spouse, you will follow these steps:

 

  1. Prepare your return as you normally would in TurboTax.  Enter your spouse's name and ignore the errors regarding missing SSN/ITIN.
  2. Select "File by Mail" rather than e-File in the last step of your return.
  3. Print your return.
  4. Attach a statement to your return, signed by both of you that states that one of you is a U.S. citizen and the other is a nonresident alien and that you are electing to both be treated as U.S. residents for tax purposes. Include the full name and address of each spouse on this letter, as well as your social security number.  (Note: this does not affect the nonresident alien's immigration status.) 
  5. Fill out Form W-7 (You can find it here: Form W-7) and attach this form, as well as all necessary documentation, to the tax return.
  6. Mail the return to the address specified in the instructions for Form W-7 (found here Form W-7 instructions).  Do not mail your return to the address in the TurboTax instructions.

 

 

Married Filing Separately with a nonresident alien spouse

 

 

If you do not elect to treat your spouse as a resident for tax purposes, you do not have to include her income on your return. However, you will have a lower standard deduction, and you may not be able to claim certain other tax benefits.  To file using this status, follow all of the same steps above except step 4, attaching the statement to make the election to be treated as a resident alien.

 

 

The IRS will process your return and issue an ITIN to your spouse. After this year, you will be able to file your return electronically using your spouse's ITIN.

 

 

Once you make the election to treat a nonresident alien as a resident for tax purposes, this election stays in effect until it is suspended or revoked.  Also, it is a once in a lifetime election. Once revoked, the nonresident alien spouse cannot elect to be treated as a resident in the future, even if married to someone else.   Learn more about this by clicking on this link IRS information for nonresident alien spouses.

 

Additional note:  If you live in a state with an income tax - file an extension for your state.  You must wait for your spouse's ITIN to file your state return.  

 

 Congratulations and Best Wishes on your marriage!

 

**Say "Thanks" by clicking the thumb icon in a post
**Mark the post that answers your question by clicking on "Mark as Best Answer"

View solution in original post

converg84
Returning Member

I was civilly married abroad to a foreign citizen. Should I file single or married? If married, separately or joint?

Thank you! I am filing separately but I do not have a social security number or ITIN since she is still living abroad and currently petitioning her. I have found a thread that says to print and and just put in "NRA" under her social security number then mail it in since it doesn't allow me to e-file. Should I put her name too or leave it blank?

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