6.   Dual-Status Tax Year

Introduction

You have a dual-status tax year when you have been both a resident alien and a nonresident alien in the same year. Dual status does not refer to your citizenship; it refers only to your resident status in the United States. In determining your U.S. income tax liability for a dual-status tax year, different rules apply for the part of the year you are a resident of the United States and the part of the year you are a nonresident.

The most common dual-status tax years are the years of arrival and departure. See Dual-Status Aliens in chapter 1.

If you are married and choose to be treated as a U.S. resident for the entire year, as explained in chapter 1, the rules of this chapter do not apply to you for that year.

Topics - This chapter discusses:

  • Income subject to tax,

  • Restrictions for dual-status taxpayers,

  • Exemptions,

  • How to figure the tax,

  • Forms to file,

  • When and where to file, and

  • How to fill out a dual-status return.

Useful Items - You may want to see:

Publication

  • 503 Child and Dependent Care Expenses

  • 514 Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals

  • 575 Pension and Annuity Income

Form (and Instructions)

  • 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  • 1040-C U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return

  • 1040-ES Estimated Tax for Individuals

  • 1040-ES (NR) U.S. Estimated Tax for Nonresident Alien Individuals

  • 1040NR U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return

  • 1116 Foreign Tax Credit

See chapter 12 for information about getting these publications and forms.

Tax Year

You must file your tax return on the basis of an annual accounting period called a tax year. If you have not previously established a fiscal tax year, your tax year is the calendar year. A calendar year is 12 consecutive months ending on December 31. If you have previously established a regular fiscal year (12 consecutive months ending on the last day of a month other than December, or a 52–53 week year) and are considered to be a U.S. resident for any calendar year, you will be treated as a U.S. resident for any part of your fiscal year that falls within that calendar year.

Income Subject to Tax

For the part of the year you are a resident alien, you are taxed on income from all sources. Income from sources outside the United States is taxable if you receive it while you are a resident alien. The income is taxable even if you earned it while you were a nonresident alien or if you became a nonresident alien after receiving it and before the end of the year.

For the part of the year you are a nonresident alien, you are taxed on income from U.S. sources and on certain foreign source income treated as effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. (The rules for treating foreign source income as effectively connected are discussed in chapter 4 under Foreign Income.)

Income from sources outside the United States that is not effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States is not taxable if you receive it while you are a nonresident alien. The income is not taxable even if you earned it while you were a resident alien or if you became a resident alien or a U.S. citizen after receiving it and before the end of the year.

Income from U.S. sources is taxable whether you receive it while a nonresident alien or a resident alien unless specifically exempt under the Internal Revenue Code or a tax treaty provision. Generally, tax treaty provisions apply only to the part of the year you were a nonresident. In certain cases, however, treaty provisions may apply while you were a resident alien. See chapter 9 for more information.

When determining what income is taxed in the United States, you must consider exemptions under U.S. tax law as well as the reduced tax rates and exemptions provided by tax treaties between the United States and certain foreign countries. For a further discussion of tax treaties, see chapter 9.

Restrictions for Dual-Status Taxpayers

The following restrictions apply if you are filing a tax return for a dual-status tax year.

1) Standard deduction.   You cannot use the standard deduction allowed on Form 1040. However, you can itemize any allowable deductions.

2) Exemptions.   Your total deduction for the exemptions for your spouse and allowable dependents cannot be more than your taxable income (figured without deducting personal exemptions) for the period you are a resident alien.

3) Head of household.   You cannot use the head of household Tax Table column or Tax Computation Worksheet.

4) Joint return.   You cannot file a joint return. However, see Choosing Resident Alien Status under Dual-Status Aliens in chapter 1.

5) Tax rates.   If you are married and a nonresident of the United States for all or part of the tax year and you do not choose to file jointly as discussed in chapter 1, you must use the Tax Table column or Tax Computation Worksheet for married filing separately to figure your tax on income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. You cannot use the Tax Table column or Tax Computation Worksheet for married filing jointly or single. However, you may be able to file as single if you lived apart from your spouse during the last 6 months of the year and you are a:
  • Married resident of Canada, Mexico, or South Korea, or

  • Married U.S. national.

 
See the instructions for Form 1040NR to see if you qualify.

   A U.S. national is an individual who, although not a U.S. citizen, owes his or her allegiance to the United States. U.S. nationals include American Samoans and Northern Mariana Islanders who chose to become U.S. nationals instead of U.S. citizens.

6) Tax credits.   You cannot claim the education credits, the earned income credit, or the credit for the elderly or the disabled unless:
  • You are married, and

  • You choose to be treated as a resident for all of 2013 by filing a joint return with your spouse who is a U.S. citizen or resident, as discussed in chapter 1.

Exemptions

As a dual-status taxpayer, you usually will be able to claim your own personal exemption. Subject to the general rules for qualification, you can claim exemptions for your spouse and dependents when you figure taxable income for the part of the year you are a resident alien. The amount you can claim for these exemptions is limited to your taxable income (figured before subtracting exemptions) for the part of the year you are a resident alien. You cannot use exemptions (other than your own) to reduce taxable income to less than zero for that period.

Special rules apply to exemptions for the part of the tax year you are a nonresident alien if you are a:

  1. Resident of Canada, Mexico, or South Korea,

  2. U.S. national, or

  3. Student or business apprentice from India.

For more information, see Exemptions in chapter 5.

How To Figure Tax

When you figure your U.S. tax for a dual-status year, you are subject to different rules for the part of the year you are a resident and the part of the year you are a nonresident.

Income

All income for your period of residence and all income that is effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States for your period of nonresidence, after allowable deductions, is added and taxed at the rates that apply to U.S. citizens and residents. Income that is not connected with a trade or business in the United States for your period of nonresidence is subject to the flat 30% rate or lower treaty rate. You cannot take any deductions against this income.

Social security and railroad retirement benefits.   During the part of the year you are a nonresident alien, 85% of any U.S. social security benefits (and the equivalent portion of tier 1 railroad retirement benefits) you receive is subject to the flat 30% tax, unless exempt, or subject to a lower treaty rate. (See The 30% Tax in chapter 4.)

  During the part of the year you are a resident alien, part of the social security and the equivalent portion of tier 1 railroad retirement benefits will be taxed at graduated rates if your modified adjusted gross income plus half of these benefits is more than a certain base amount.

Use the Social Security Benefits Worksheet in the Form 1040 instructions to help you figure the taxable part of your social security and equivalent tier 1 railroad retirement benefits for the part of the year you were a resident alien.

If you received U.S. social security benefits while you were a nonresident alien, the Social Security Administration will send you Form SSA-1042S showing your combined benefits for the entire year and the amount of tax withheld. You will not receive separate statements for the benefits received during your periods of U.S. residence and nonresidence. Therefore, it is important for you to keep careful records of these amounts. You will need this information to properly complete your return and determine your tax liability.

If you received railroad retirement benefits while you were a nonresident alien, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) will send you Form RRB-1042S, Statement for Nonresident Alien Recipients of Payments by the Railroad Retirement Board, and/or Form RRB-1099-R, Annuities or Pensions by the Railroad Retirement Board. If your country of legal residence changed or your rate of tax changed during the tax year, you may receive more than one form.

Tax Credits and Payments

This discussion covers tax credits and payments for dual-status aliens.

Credits

As a dual-status alien, you generally can claim tax credits using the same rules that apply to resident aliens. There are certain restrictions that may apply. These restrictions are discussed here, along with a brief explanation of credits often claimed by individuals.

Foreign tax credit.   If you have paid or are liable for the payment of income tax to a foreign country on income from foreign sources, you may be able to claim a credit for the foreign taxes.

  If you claim the foreign tax credit, you generally must file Form 1116 with your income tax return. For more information, see the Instructions for Form 1116 and Publication 514.

Child and dependent care credit.   You may qualify for this credit if you pay someone to care for your qualifying child who is under age 13, or your disabled dependent or disabled spouse so that you can work or look for work. Generally, you must be able to claim an exemption for your dependent.

  Married dual-status aliens can claim the credit only if they choose to file a joint return as discussed in chapter 1, or if they qualify as certain married individuals living apart.

  The amount of your child and dependent care expense that qualifies for the credit in any tax year cannot be more than your earned income for that tax year.

  For more information, get Publication 503 and Form 2441.

Retirement savings contributions credit.   You may qualify for this credit (also known as the saver's credit) if you made eligible contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or to an individual retirement arrangement (IRA) in 2013. You cannot claim this credit if:
  • You were born after January 1, 1996,

  • You were a full-time student,

  • Your exemption is claimed by someone else on his or her 2013 tax return, or

  • Your adjusted gross income is more than $29,500.

Use Form 8880 to figure the credit. For more information, see Publication 590.

Child tax credit.   You may be able to take this credit if you have a qualifying child.

  A qualifying child for purposes of the child tax credit is a child who:
  • Was under age 17 at the end of 2013.

  • Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew).

  • Is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a resident alien.

  • Did not provide over half of his or her own support for 2013.

  • Lived with you more than half of 2013. Temporary absences, such as for school, vacation, or medical care, count as time lived in the home.

  • Is claimed as a dependent on your return.

An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

  See your form instructions for additional details.

Adoption credit.   You may qualify to take a tax credit of up to $12,970 for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. This amount may be allowed for the adoption of a child with special needs regardless of whether you have qualifying expenses. To claim the adoption credit, file Form 8839 with the U.S. income tax return that you file.

  Married dual-status aliens can claim the credit only if they choose to file a joint return with a U.S. citizen or resident spouse as discussed in chapter 1, or if they qualify as certain married individuals living apart (see Married Persons Not Filing Jointly in the Form 8839 instructions).

Payments

You can report as payments against your U.S. income tax liability certain taxes you paid, are considered to have paid, or that were withheld from your income. These include:

  • Tax withheld from wages earned in the United States,

  • Taxes withheld at the source from various items of income from U.S. sources other than wages,

  • Estimated tax paid with Form 1040-ES or Form 1040-ES (NR), and

  • Tax paid with Form 1040-C, at the time of departure from the United States.

Forms To File

The U.S. income tax return you must file as a dual-status alien depends on whether you are a resident alien or a nonresident alien at the end of the tax year.

Resident at end of year.   You must file Form 1040 if you are a dual-status taxpayer who becomes a resident during the year and who is a U.S. resident on the last day of the tax year. Write “Dual-Status Return” across the top of the return. Attach a statement to your return to show the income for the part of the year you are a nonresident. You can use Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ as the statement, but be sure to mark “Dual-Status Statement” across the top.

Nonresident at end of year.   You must file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ if you are a dual-status taxpayer who gives up residence in the United States during the year and who is not a U.S. resident on the last day of the tax year. Write “Dual-Status Return” across the top of the return. Attach a statement to your return to show the income for the part of the year you are a resident. You can use Form 1040 as the statement, but be sure to mark “Dual-Status Statement” across the top.

  If you expatriated or terminated your residency in 2013, you may be required to file an expatriation statement (Form 8854) with your tax return. For more information, see Expatriation Tax in chapter 4.

Statement.   Any statement must have your name, address, and taxpayer identification number on it. You do not need to sign a separate statement or schedule accompanying your return, because your signature on the return also applies to the supporting statements and schedules.

When and Where To File

If you are a resident alien on the last day of your tax year and report your income on a calendar year basis, you must file no later than April 15 of the year following the close of your tax year. If you report your income on other than a calendar year basis, file your return no later than the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of your tax year. In either case, file your return with the address for dual-status aliens shown on the back page of the Form 1040 instructions.

If you are a nonresident alien on the last day of your tax year and you report your income on a calendar year basis, you must file no later than April 15 of the year following the close of your tax year if you receive wages subject to withholding. If you report your income on other than a calendar year basis, file your return no later than the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of your tax year. If you did not receive wages subject to withholding and you report your income on a calendar year basis, you must file no later than June 15 of the year following the close of your tax year. If you report your income on other than a calendar year basis, file your return no later than the 15th day of the 6th month following the close of your tax year. In any case, mail your return to:

 
Department of the Treasury 
Internal Revenue Service  
Austin, TX 73301-0215

If enclosing a payment, mail your return to:

 
Internal Revenue Service  
P.O. Box 1303 
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303

If the regular due date for filing falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.


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