Something Olde, Something New – Your Wedding and the Tax Code

You’re married, mazal tov! The business of matrimony, however, involves more than romance, a fancy wedding cake and the honey moon. Along with other practical considerations, your nuptials have an impact on your tax status. For normal taxpayers that reside in the United States, the filing options are either married filing jointly or married filing separately. For most situations, the couple is served better by filing jointly. If you happen to be living outside of the United States and have married a non-American (know to the IRS quaintly as a non-resident alien or NRA), then the tax code provides the option to proudly include your NRA spouse (and his or her income) and declare yourself “married filing jointly”. 6013 is the tax code dealing with joint return of income tax by spouse and spouse.  The tax code is available for perusal here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/6013 Here are some basic tips to keep in mind: 1. subsection 6013(g) deals with the “Election to treat nonresident alien individual as resident of the United States”.  In plain English, it means adding the non-American spouse to the 1040.  This sometimes works to the the taxpayer’s advantage in terms of qualifying for higher refunds or lower taxes. 2. The election is made by attaching a signed declaration to a tax return.  Subsequent tax filings do not require a declaration.  The NRA spouse will be required to file a 1040 thereafter until death, divorce, or revocation. 3. The NRA spouse can revoke whenever he/she wants.  This must be done on a timely basis.  Attach the revocation statement to the form 1040. 4. USA citizen gets one and only one NRA 6013(g) election per lifetime.  IOW, if he/she remarries to another non-American, then the 6013(g) election is not available. 5. NRA spouse must obtain an individual tax identification number (ITIN) by filing a form W7 and presenting a current passport (to simplify a bit). XPAT Tax Services is certified acceptance agent to provide service for this purpose. 6. ITIN’s expire periodically or by not filing for 3 tax years.  Expired ITIN’s must be renewed by again filing a W-7. 7. ITIN’s must be applied for by the due date (including extensions) of the tax filing in order to qualify for the child tax credit.  The due date is NOT to be confused with the 3 year statute of limitations for claiming a refund.