Nonresident Alien Spouse Treated as a Resident
If, at the end of your tax year, you are married and one spouse is a U.S. citizen or a resident alien and the other is a nonresident alien, you can choose to treat the nonresident as a U.S. resident. This includes situations in which one of you is a nonresident alien at the beginning of the tax year and a resident alien at the end of the year and the other is a nonresident alien at the end of the year.
If you make this choice, the following two rules apply.
You and your spouse are treated, for income tax purposes, as residents for all tax years that the choice is in effect.
You must file a joint income tax return for the year you make the choice.
This means that neither of you can claim tax treaty benefits as a resident of a foreign country for a tax year for which the choice is in effect.
You can file joint or separate returns in years after the year in which you make the choice.
Pat Smith, a U.S. citizen, is married to Norman, a nonresident alien. Pat and Norman make the choice to treat Norman as a resident alien by attaching a statement to their joint return. Pat and Norman must report their worldwide income for the year they make the choice and for all later years unless the choice is ended or suspended. Although Pat and Norman must file a joint return for the year they make the choice, they can file either joint or separate returns for later years.
When Bob and Sharon Williams got married, both were nonresident aliens. In June of last year, Bob became a resident alien and remained a resident for the rest of the year. Bob and Sharon both choose to be treated as resident aliens by attaching a statement to their joint return for last year. Bob and Sharon must report their worldwide income for last year and all later years unless the choice is ended or suspended. Bob and Sharon must file a joint return for last year, but they can file either joint or separate returns for later years.
If you do not choose to treat your nonresident alien spouse as a U.S. resident, you may be able to use head of household filing status. To use this status, you must pay more than half the cost of maintaining a household for certain dependents or relatives other than your nonresident alien spouse. For more information, see Publication 501.
Social Security Number (SSN)
If you choose to treat your nonresident alien spouse as a U.S. resident, your spouse must have either an SSN or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
To get an SSN for a nonresident alien spouse, apply at a social security office or U.S. consulate.
You must complete Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You must also provide original or certified copies of documents to verify that spouse's age, identity, and citizenship.
If the nonresident alien spouse is not eligible to get an SSN
, he or she can file Form W-7
, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
, with the IRS to apply for an ITIN.