Question

I have a question related to resident alien taxes. What are the qualifications for resident aliens for tax purposes?

Answer

You qualify as a resident alien of the United States for tax purposes if you meet either of these:

  • The green card test
  • The substantial presence test for the calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31)

For the green card test, you’re a resident if you’re a lawful permanent resident any time in the year. This means you legally have the privilege of living permanently in the United States as an immigrant. You have this status if you have an alien registration card. This is commonly known as a green card. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or its predecessor organization issues the cards.

You continue to have resident status with a green card unless the status is:

  • Taken away from you
  • Administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned

Under the substantial presence test, you’re a resident if you were physically present in the United States for all of these periods:

  • At least 31 days during the current year
  • At least 183 days during the current year and the two previous years, counting all of these:
    • All the days you were present in the current year
    • 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year
    • 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year

If you will file Form 8843, even if you do not have to file an income tax return, don’t count days when you were an exempt individual. The term “exempt individual” doesn’t mean you were exempt from U.S. tax. It means you were one of these:

  • An individual temporarily in the United States as a foreign government-related individual
  • A teacher or trainee who:
    • Was temporarily present in the United States under a “J” or “Q” visa
    • Substantially complies with the requirements of the visa
  • A student who:
    • Was temporarily present in the United States under an “F,” “J,” “M,” or “Q” visa
    • Substantially complies with the requirements of the visa
  • A professional athlete temporarily in the United States to compete in a charitable sports event
  • Unable to leave the United States because of a medical condition that developed while you were in the country
  • A regular commuter from Canada or Mexico
  • An alien present in the United States for less than 24 hours when in transit between two places outside the country
  • A crew member of a foreign vessel engaged in international transportation

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