Robert J. Fedor, Esq., L.L.C.

Are non-citizens exempt from paying U.S. taxes?

The Internal Revenue Service is the federal agency tasked with both establishing and enforcing U.S. tax laws and collecting tax-related payments. While most other countries collect taxes from citizens, the U.S. is renowned as having some of the strictest and widely enforced tax laws of any country.

We've previously written about how U.S. born citizens living abroad are being impacted by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, however, there are cases in which even non U.S. citizens are required to pay Uncle Sam.

For example, individuals who have obtained a valid U.S. green card are automatically considered tax residents. Therefore, any income a green card holder earns by working in the U.S. or abroad is taxable and must be reported to the IRS. This is true even in cases where a green card holder works abroad and does not work in the U.S. during a 12 month timeframe. Green Card holders who fail to file or pay income taxes may face criminal charges related to tax evasion.

Foreign residents who obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant visa for travel to the U.S. may also be required to file and pay U.S. income taxes. In general the IRS considers nonimmigrant visa holders who spend 183 or more days per year in the U.S., tax residents. However, the tax status of nonimmigrant visa holders is determined via a weighted system. Therefore, if an individual was considered a tax resident for two consecutive years, he or she may also be required to file and pay applicable income taxes for the third year provided he or she spent at least 30 days in the U.S.

IRS tax laws, rules, codes and regulations are complex and confusing. To avoid possible violations of U.S. tax laws, non U.S. citizens who have a nonimmigrant visa would be wise to discuss their tax resident status with a tax professional. Green card or nonimmigrant visa holders who believe they may have violated U.S. tax laws or who face criminal IRS charges would be wise to seek the guidance and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Immigration and Taxes: Who has to Pay U.S. Taxes?," 2014

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