Tax Trails - Am I Required to File a U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (for U.S. Citizens/Resident Aliens Living Abroad and Nonresident Aliens)?

You're required to file a Federal income tax return to report your worldwide income. Generally, for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (“green card holders”), the rules for filing individual income tax returns (as well as estate and gift tax returns and for paying estimated tax) are the same whether you're living in the United States or abroad, although there may be some procedural differences.

  • The gross income threshold amounts that determine your filing requirement depend on your income, filing status, and age. These thresholds change every year, so you should carefully review the charts in the "Filing Requirements" section of the Form 1040 Instructions of the appropriate tax year.
  • In some special situations, even if your gross income is below the threshold amount for your filing status, you still have a requirement to file. See "Chart C - Other Situations When You Must File" in the "Filing Requirements" section of the Form 1040 Instructions for these rules.
  • Your tax liability may be computed differently if you're also a resident of a tax jurisdiction that has entered into a tax treaty with the United States. Refer to the “Tax Treaty Benefits” chapter of Publication 54 Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for information.
  • If you're a bona fide resident of one of the U.S territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa), you may have different filing requirements. Please see Publication 570, Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions for additional information.
  • If you are a dual-status taxpayer, you have different filing requirements. You have a dual-status tax year when you’re a resident alien or U.S. citizen for part of the year and a nonresident alien for part of the same year. This typically occurs in the year you arrive in or depart from the United States. Carefully read Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens and Dual Status Aliens for more information.

Note: For additional information, go to Do I Need to File a Tax Return?, or see the "Filing Information" chapter of Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, and Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals.


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