Filing a U.S. Resident Tax Return

There are three methods of filing a US tax return as a resident alien:

  1. Meeting the Substantial Presence Test or Green Card Test
  2. Being an F-1 or J-1 student from Hungary, Barbados and Jamaica eligible for tax treaty benefits and choosing to be treated as a resident for tax purposes.
    • Note: Visiting scholars and researchers are not eligible.
  3. Being married to a US citizen or resident alien for tax purposes and filing a joint return.

If you are married to a U.S. Citizen or resident alien for tax purposes, you may choose to be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes and file a joint resident tax return with your spouse.

The advantages of this include:

  • You can use the filing status "married filing jointly," which usually results in lower taxation
  • You can claim tax credits normally not available to nonresident tax filers
  • You can claim the standard deduction

The disadvantages are:

  • You may be subject to Social Security and Medicare withholding on your wages
  • You may not be able to claim tax treaty benefits (depends on country specific tax treaty)
  • You will be taxed on your worldwide income

International Student & Scholar Services is only equipped to assist nonresident alien tax filers. If, however, you would like help with filing, there are several options:

  1. Using software available from the IRS Free File website
  2. Purchasing a professional tax software program available online and in stores or consulting a paid tax professional.
  3. Utilizing the Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities' free tax preparation services.
  4. Finding a free tax preparation center by using the VITA Site Locator from the IRS.

Tax Forms Commonly Used by International Students & Scholars

Must be completed by all F and J visa holders, regardless of whether or not U.S. income was earned.

Required to request a refund of Social Security and Medicare Taxes.

Required to request a refund of Social Security and Medicare Taxes and must be submitted with Form 843.

Used to file an amendment of a previous year's tax return.

Used to ask for an extension to file taxes after the April 15 tax deadline.

Claiming Tax Treaty Benefits as a Resident Alien

The tax treaty between the U.S & China allows for the tax treaty to be claimed on resident returns. The U.S./ China tax treaty does not have a time limitation and an F-1 or J-1 student from China who qualifies for the treaty can use the treaty benefit as long as he/she is a student in good standing, including the period of time the student is engaged in practical/academic training after graduation.

This means that even after a student from China becomes a resident for tax purposes under the substantial presence test, he/she may still claim the U.S./China tax treaty benefit.

The tax treaty allows:

  • $5000 exemption for wages per year: Article 20(c)
  • Unlimited exemption for scholarship per year: Article 20(b)

To claim the tax treaty on a resident return:

  • File as a resident alien for tax purposes using Form 1040
  • Complete all applicable income lines and include any amounts that are tax treaty exempt
  • On Line 21 (Other Income), enter in a negative number for the total amount of the tax treaty exemption being claimed. In effect, the amount of Line 22 (total income) will reflect your income minus the exempted amount from the tax treaty.
  • In the box on Line 21, write "U.S.-{country} tax treaty, Article {article number}"
  • Attach Page 5 of the Form 1040NR to the back of the Form 1040. On Page 5, write your name, SSN, and "Resident Alien with Tax Treaty Exemption" written at the top and only complete Question L.
  • If you received Form 1042-S, attach Copy C to the front bottom section of Form 1040.

Mail the completed tax return to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215 if there is no tax due

or

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303 if a tax payment is due