Question

I'm a US citizen but my spouse is a foreign citizen who hasn't applied for an SSN and hasn't lived or worked in the United States. Do I claim US citizen married to non resident alien filing status?

Answer

The ordinary filing status for a U.S citizen married to a nonresident is married filing separately. The nonresident spouse isn’t required to get a taxpayer ID number. You can put “NR” for your spouse’s tax ID number on your return.

For head of household purposes, being married to a nonresident alien is considered unmarried. You must meet the other requirements for the head of household filing status. Your spouse can’t be the qualifying person.

If you treat your spouse as a resident alien, you can use married filing jointly on Form 1040. If you do, you and your spouse are treated as residents for the entire year. So, neither you nor your spouse can claim, under any tax treaty, not to be a U.S. resident. You’re both taxed on worldwide income.

If you choose to file as residents, you must file a joint return for the year you make the choice. However, you can file joint or separate returns in later years.

If your spouse is eligible for a Social Security number (SSN), he or she should apply for one. If your spouse isn’t eligible, he or she will have to apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) by filing Form W-7.

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