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F1 filing tax return. Ian I claim my spouse as a dependent if the spouse will be entering the US on an F1. Are there any other benefits that I can claim?

Hi all, this is probably going to be a long question.

I filed the tax return in 2016 for the year 2015 as a single using sprintax. I am on F1 visa since 2013 so I probably come under the non-resident alien category. My fiance will be coming to the US on an F1 visa in September 2016. We will be getting married in October 2016 in the US. I have an income right now and SSN whereas my Fiance will be a full time student with no income so will I be able to claim her as a dependent on my tax return for the Fiscal Year 2016? I will mostly be paying for the tuition fees and all other educational expenses for my Fiance.

I know there is the physical presence test which has to be met in order for me to be able to claim any dependents but I am not quite sure how to file our tax returns as. Married filing together or married filing separately?

I also plan on taking a student loan for her on my name so will I get any tax deductions for that?

What would happen if she gets a job but the gross income is less than 4000$ a year. Can I still claim her as dependent.

Thanks in Advance!


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Level 15

F1 filing tax return. Ian I claim my spouse as a dependent if the spouse will be entering the US on an F1. Are there any other benefits that I can claim?

You cannot claim a spouse as a dependent ... but you can file a joint return with your spouse or file a separate return and claim her exemption if qualified.  You need to do some research in this matter to decide the route to take ... 

Per the answer from bine22 :

Filing jointly might be beneficial, but it definitely not always is.

You have three options to file:

1. Married filing separately (or HoH if you have a qualifying child). You would have to print your return and write NRA in the box for your spouses SSN/ITIN and file on paper.

2. Married filing separately (or HoH if you have a qualifying child) and claiming an exemption for your spouse if they had no US source income. In this case you would need to apply for an ITIN together with your tax return.

3. Married filing jointly. You would need to add a statement that you both choose to treat your spouse as resident alien and apply for an ITIN. However, in this case your spouse would have to report worldwide income as well, but would be able to use the FEIE and/or foreign tax credit.

You need to carefully evaluate your options and choose the best for you and your spouse. They might not want to expose their income to the IRS, even f it's more beneficial.
If you yourself are eligible to use the Foreign Earned income exclusion and you income is less than the maximum exclusion and you don't have any other or very little taxable income, filing separately is probably the best option.

Have a look at publication 54:


You will be able to file jointly with your spouse for tax year 2016 if you choose to  ….

However they will need either a social security number (if they are eligible) or a taxpayer identifying number to include your new spouse on your return. Use IRS Form W-7 to apply for a Taxpayer Identifying Number. A copy is here: . You need to attach your federal tax return to the application.

The tax return and W-7 are mailed to:

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


When the number is issued you will receive a notice in the mail and the federal return will be forwarded for processing automatically. If you will need to file a state return as well and you have not gotten the ITIN by 4/15 then file a state extension and complete the return when you get the number.

Also: "You may also apply using the services of an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent or visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in lieu of mailing your information to the IRS in Austin. TACs in the United States provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis. Applicants outside the United States should contact an overseas IRS office to find out if that office accepts Form W-7 applications. The IRS's ITIN Unit in Austin issues all numbers by mail."


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