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Level 2

Newly married to foreign national

This is the first tax year I have been married. We were married overseas. My wife is a foreign national and has still not gained entry to the US yet (immigration visa pending). I have a daughter with my wife. My infant daughter is a US citizen and has a US passport.  Neither has a social security number or ITIN.


Would I maximize my return by filing jointly?

Do I need to report my wife's income?

If I do not file jointly, am I able to claim my wife as a dependent?

Am I able to claim my daughter as a dependent without a social security number?



2 Replies
Expert Alumni

Newly married to foreign national

Since you were married on December 31 you have to file as Married Filing Joint (MFJ or Married Filing Separate (MFS). As a US Citizen or a Resident Alien, you have two choices in filing your taxes.


Option 1

Treat your spouse as resident alien for tax purposes.   If you do this, you will need to include your spouse's worldwide income in your US tax return and it will be subject to US taxes.  To do this follow these steps.

  1. Attach a statement to your tax return, signed by both spouses, that states that one spouse is a nonresident alien and the other is a U.S. citizen or resident alien, and you are choosing to both be treated as US residents for the tax year.
  2. List the name, address and Social Security number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification number) of each spouse. If your spouse has a social security number you will use it.  If not, you will need to apply for a number using Form SS-5.  If your spouse is not eligible to apply for a Social Security number, complete a Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) (  This form will be attached to your tax return.  Turbo Tax does not support the Form W-7.  You can complete it outside of Turbo Tax.  You will have to print, sign and mail your return in if you are using Form W-7.
  3. For the first year you make the choice, you have to file a joint return. In later years you can file joint or separate returns. Married Filing Jointly will give you a higher standard deduction and has other benefits that are not available using a married filing separately status, but you do have to include your spouse’s worldwide income in joint income.

Option 2

Treat your spouse as a nonresident alien for tax purposes. You will not have to include your spouse’s non-US income on your U.S. tax return. You will have to use the filing status of Married Filing Separately.

If everyone on the tax return has a social security number or ITIN, you should mail your return to the address listed in the 1040 instructions.  Tax returns with a Form W-7 should be mailed to the Austin TX address.


There is not enough information to say whether filing jointly or separately would result in the lowest tax liability.


As mentioned above, if you file jointly, you will have to claim your wife's income.


You can never claim a spouse as a dependent, so no you cannot claim your wife.


No, you cannot claim your daughter as a dependent without a social security number.  You can apply for a SSN for her, and if need be file an automatic extension for your tax return if you do not receive the SSN by April 15.

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Level 2

Newly married to foreign national

Really thorough answer, thank you very much.

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