Tax Information and Responsibilities for New Immigrants to the United States

 

This page provides a general summary of federal income tax responsibilities, procedures, and rights related to residents of the United States, and corresponding links to more detailed information.

Residency Under U.S. Tax Law

The taxation of an individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national is dependent on the residency status of such individual.

Although the immigration laws of the United States refer to aliens as immigrants, nonimmigrants, and undocumented (illegal) aliens, the tax laws of the United States refer only to RESIDENT and NONRESIDENT ALIENS.

In general, the controlling principle is that resident aliens are taxed in the same manner as U.S. citizens on their worldwide income, and nonresident aliens are taxed according to special rules contained in certain parts of the Internal Revenue Code (hereinafter referred to as IRC or the Code).

An immigrant who obtains a green card is treated as a lawful permanent resident and is considered a resident alien for U.S. income tax purposes. For assistance in determining whether you are a resident or nonresident alien of the U.S., refer to Determining Alien Tax Status.

In general, when an individual initially obtains a green card, the individual’s residency starting date is the first day in the calendar year on which the resident alien is present in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (the date on which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially approved your petition to become an immigrant).

If the individual received a green card abroad, then the residency starting date is the first day of physical presence in the United States after the individual received the green card. For more detailed information on when a resident alien’s period of residency starts in the U.S., please refer to Residency Starting and Ending Dates.

For tax years in which an individual is both a U.S. resident alien and a nonresident alien, please refer to Taxation of Dual-Status Aliens.

Taxation of U.S. Resident Aliens

If you are a U.S. resident alien or U.S. citizen, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.

For details regarding tax responsibilities for U.S. resident aliens, please refer to Taxation of U.S. Resident Aliens and Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

For details regarding tax responsibilities for U.S. resident aliens and U.S. citizens who work or live abroad or who have income earned in a foreign country, please refer to Taxpayers Living Abroad and Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Residents Abroad.

An individual with income from Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico will probably have to file a tax return with the tax department of one of these territories. It is possible the individual may have to file two annual tax returns: one with the territory's tax department and the other with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. For more information, see Individuals Living or Working in U.S. Territories/Possessions.

Additional Filing Requirements, including Foreign Asset Reporting

Federal law requires U.S. resident aliens and U.S. citizens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. resident aliens and U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

A U.S. Person, including a citizen, resident alien, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, trust and estate, must also report certain foreign financial accounts, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts and mutual funds, to the Treasury Department by filing a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) on FinCEN Form 114.  For more information about the FBAR filing requirement, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

In addition, certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their tax return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. Generally, U.S. resident aliens, U.S. citizens, and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. Refer to the instructions for this form for details.

U.S. Persons may also have the following additional filing requirements, as applicable (not all inclusive):

Expatriate Reporting

Taxpayers who relinquished their U.S. citizenship or ceased to be lawful permanent residents of the United States must file a dual-status alien return, attaching Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement. A copy of the Form 8854 must also be filed with Internal Revenue Service Philadelphia, PA 19255-0049, by the due date of the tax return (including extensions). See Expatriation Tax, the Form 8854 instructions, and Notice 2009-85, Guidance for Expatriates Under Section 877A, for further details.

Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Refer to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to explore your rights and our obligations to protect them.

Contacts

The IRS experiences high call volumes and telephone service wait times can average 15 to 30 minutes or longer. Refer to Let Us Help You for common online tools and resources, as well as IRS telephone numbers per type of assistance needed.

If you are outside the United States with specific individual or business tax account question, you should contact the International Taxpayer Service Call Center by phone or fax. The International Call Center is operational Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time):

Tel: 267-941-1000 (not toll-free)

Fax: 681-247-3101(for international tax account issues only)

To request Taxpayer Advocate assistance, call the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free numbers below or refer to Contact a Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) in Caribbean U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands) and International or Contact a Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) in Hawaii & Pacific US Territories (Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands).

787-522-8601 - English

787-522-8600 - Spanish

855-818-5697 - Fax

References/Related Topics