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I'm trying to do my taxes. My wife is a Japanese citizen. We live in Japan. What do I fill in?

Answers:1   |   LastAnswerAt:2009.12  

Asked at 2009.12.18 23:47:20
Do I check yes I'm married? If so, what do I write for the Social Security number. She doesn't have one, as she's not a US citizen.
answer naekuo  Answered at 2009.12.18 23:47:20
Just let you know that many people try to do this ILLEGALLY. Please do not fill as SINGLE. Not only it is illegal. But also it is disrespectful to your wife.

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In general, your filing status depends on whether you are considered unmarried or married. For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

BY LAW! You are considered unmarried for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.

State law governs whether you are married or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.

You are considered married for the whole year if on the last day of your tax year you and your spouse meet any one of the following tests.

There are only two filling status for Married Persons:
Married Filing Jointly & Married Filing Separately

You can choose married filing jointly as your filing status if you are married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.

If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize deductions) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.

You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.

Nonresident alien or dual-status alien.

A joint return generally cannot be filed if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the tax year. However, if one spouse was a nonresident alien or dual-status alien who was married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of the year, the spouses can choose to file a joint return. If you do file a joint return, you and your spouse are both treated as U.S. residents for the entire tax year.

Further reading for "Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad"
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Thereby, here is the question for you.


"I am a U.S. citizen working abroad. Are my foreign earnings taxable?"

A U.S. citizen or resident alien is generally subject to U.S. tax on total worldwide income. However, if you are a United States citizen or a resident alien who lives and works abroad, you may qualify to exclude all or part of your foreign earned income.

If you treat your wife as a "resident" and file joint return. You will need to report any of your wife income from Japan or any income from planet EARTH. Yes. Maybe she is an alien. But she is not from Mars. I was an alien once upon a time.

If you do not want to report your wife income, you need to file separate return.

OK! I did about 30 returns that is oversea this year. They always ask this question:

My wife has not Social Security Number. What should I do?

What is an ITIN?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit, example 9XX-7X-XXXX.
IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have U.S. tax return and payment responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code.
Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.

What is an ITIN used for?
ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit. ITINs are not valid identification outside the tax system.
IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers.

Who needs an ITIN?
IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A non-resident alien individual not eligible for an SSN, who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty, needs an ITIN.
Examples of individuals who need ITINs include:

* Non-resident alien filing a U.S. tax return and not eligible for an SSN
* U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return and not eligible for an SSN
* Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
* Dependent or spouse of a non-resident alien visa holder

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