Nonresident Spouse Treated as a Resident
If, at the end of your tax year, you are married and one spouse is a U.S. citizen or a resident alien and the other spouse is a nonresident alien, you can choose to treat the nonresident spouse as a U.S. resident. This includes situations in which one spouse is a nonresident alien at the beginning of the tax year, but a resident alien at the end of the year, and the other spouse is a nonresident alien at the end of the year.
If you make this choice, you and your spouse are treated as residents for your entire tax year for the purpose of your federal individual income tax return, and for the purpose of withholding U.S. federal income tax from your wages. However, for the purpose of Chapter 3 withholding you may still be treated as a nonresident alien. Refer to Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Corporations (Chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code) in Tax Withholding Types. In addition, you may still be treated as a nonresident alien for the purpose of withholding Social Security and Medicare tax. Refer to Aliens Employed in the U.S. – Social Security Taxes.
Generally, neither you nor your spouse can claim tax treaty benefits as a resident of a foreign country for a tax year for which the choice is in effect and you are both taxed on worldwide income. However, the exception to the saving clause of a particular tax treaty might allow a resident alien to claim a tax treaty benefit on certain specified income. You must file a joint income tax return for the year you make the choice, but you and your spouse can file joint or separate returns in later years.
CAUTION! If you file a joint return under this provision, the special instructions and restrictions for dual-status taxpayers do not apply to you.
How to Make the Choice
Attach a statement, signed by both spouses, to your joint return for the first tax year for which the choice applies. It should contain the following information:
- A declaration that one spouse was a nonresident alien and the other spouse a U.S. citizen or resident alien on the last day of your tax year, and that you choose to be treated as U.S. residents for the entire tax year
- The name, address, and identification number of each spouse. (If one spouse died, include the name and address of the person making the choice for the deceased spouse.)
You generally make this choice when you file your joint return. However, you can also make the choice by filing a joint amended return on Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF).
The choice to be treated as a resident alien does not apply to any tax year (after the tax year you made the choice) if neither spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident alien at any time during the tax year.
Note: This page contains one or more references to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Treasury Regulations, court cases, or other official tax guidance. References to these legal authorities are included for the convenience of those who would like to read the technical reference material. To access the applicable IRC sections, Treasury Regulations, or other official tax guidance, visit the Tax Code, Regulations, and Official Guidance page. To access any Tax Court case opinions issued after September 24, 1995, visit the Opinions Search page of the United States Tax Court.