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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was wondering if you had any useful information and tips on doing US Tax Returns and what the requirements are for foriegners living in the US tjhat you could add to this very informatitive post?

Thanks,
Megs
 

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Hi Megs,
I've spun your post off into a thread of its own, as it's a topic that could be useful to many others. And you're in something of a unique situation - at least for this year. (Recap for lurkers: Meg has a green card, having succeeded in the green card lottery last year. She made her first entry into the US late 2009, but is currently still living in London - if I follow her prior posts correctly.)

Normally, as a green card holder, you need to file a US tax return for 2009 if you meet the filing threshold for your filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household). In your case, you would normally be treated as a "dual-status alien" for 2009 - i.e. non-resident for the period up until your "permanent residence" (i.e. green card) kicks in, and resident from then until the end of the year. If you're currently living in London still, it's going to complicate your tax status - unless you're claiming residence in the US from your first entry back last year.

There is a tax publication (# 519) called "US Tax Guide for Aliens" available on the IRS website http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf Because your situation is kind of unusual, you probably need to read through the guide to get a better idea what your options are, then come back with further questions.

For general tax information, whether you're a US citizen or a foreigner, the best source is publication 17 - also available for download on the IRS site Forms and Publications
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Bev, you got my situation right. Waiting for my partners work transfer before we can move over to the states.

I have downloaded both and will go over them. I'll come back with any further queries.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Advise from US Tax Account

I struggled to make sense of all the tax information I downloaded so decided I would get an accountant to help me submit my return.

I contacted 3 US accountants based in London who said it would cost between £500-800! The third one first asked a series of questions, which I answered and he advised I don't need to submit one due to earning under £5970 in Nov and Dec 09 (the 2 months I would be considered a resident for tax purposes). His comments are below:

"If you were not a resident of the U.S. in 2008 (even as a non-resident alien) you are treated as a resident of the U.S. only for the portion of the year which begins on the residency starting date. The residency starting date is the first day you were in the U.S. while a lawful permanent resident. You must file a U.S. tax return if your income in 2009 exceeds $9,350 or £5970 (sterling) during the period you are considered a resident of the U.S."

Now I'm wondering if there's any forms I need to submit to say I didn't earn enough? I assume from his comments that I don't need to submit one but will from this year onwards.

Cheers,
Megs
 

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No, if your income doesn't exceed the threshold amounts, there is nothing to file.
Cheers,
Bev
Good advice from an accounting point of view.....but I'm not so sure from an immigration one. I'd say it was better to file a zero return than not file at all.

One of the questions that is going to come up should the OP end up in front of a judge for abandoning residency (a more likely scenario than for most people because of her circumstances) is whether she filed a tax return.
 

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Good advice from an accounting point of view.....but I'm not so sure from an immigration one. I'd say it was better to file a zero return than not file at all.

One of the questions that is going to come up should the OP end up in front of a judge for abandoning residency (a more likely scenario than for most people because of her circumstances) is whether she filed a tax return.
Right, of course. You can always file a return declaring that you have nothing to declare - it's just the regular return with 0's (or appropriately small numbers) in the appropriate lines.

But there isn't a separate form for declaring that you're not filing because your income is under the threshold. (Actually that wouldn't be a bad idea...)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Right, of course. You can always file a return declaring that you have nothing to declare - it's just the regular return with 0's (or appropriately small numbers) in the appropriate lines.

But there isn't a separate form for declaring that you're not filing because your income is under the threshold. (Actually that wouldn't be a bad idea...)
Cheers,
Bev
I think it's also a good idea, thanks guys, wise advise. I've just gone online and looked at the Free Federal Online Filing... I assume this is easy enough to do but what happens about signing it at the end? Eg. Will they send it out for me to sign. If so, I may as well fill it in and send it off!

I want to get it off before Easter cause I'm off to Boston and NYC for a week!

Thanks,
Megs
 

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Be careful, those "free Federal online filing" things are often difficult to impossible to use for those located outside the US. Some of the free Federal filings require you to file a (paid) State tax form in order to get the free filing.

And others are set up in ways that may not allow you to complete the filing, for one reason or another. Either due to a form you need but can't file online, or requiring information that can't be filled in on the online system form. It's possible, too, that if you file a "0" form, the system may not file it - thinking it's a blank form. Just check to make sure the online form is doing what you expect it to do.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have form 1040 filled in and will post it off when I get to Boston tomorrow!

I've printed it out on standard UK A4 paper so hopefully that will be ok?

Hope you all have a great Easter break, eat lots of chocolate and thanks again for the advice.

Megs
 

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The A4 paper is fine. It's what I've used for years now.

Just finished my returns today - but since I'm not headed for Boston, will have to mail them in from here. (Usually I'm headed to Boston this time of year... but not this year.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tax Return Sent Off

The A4 paper is fine. It's what I've used for years now.

Just finished my returns today - but since I'm not headed for Boston, will have to mail them in from here. (Usually I'm headed to Boston this time of year... but not this year.)
Cheers,
Bev
Hey Bev,

Boston was lovelly.... sunny weather, great food, lots of sights and good people! Definitely want to go back later this year. I stayed in the Back Bay area and did lots of sightseeing. Sent off my paper tax return.

Had no problems getting through border control for the 2nd time, they just asked where I'd been. Worst part was not having enough time in the states but I will be back in Sept!!

Cheers,
Megs
 
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