My spouse is a non-resident alien (not a U.S. taxpayer, resident or greencard holder). Can I or should I file a joint return with my spouse?

Yes, it is possible to request an ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number) for your spouse if they don’t already have a U.S. tax identification number, so that a joint tax return can be filed. However, in order to file a joint tax return, your non-resident spouse will be required to make an election as part of the return, which will be subject to U.S. taxation and the reporting of their worldwide income (just like a U.S. citizen/permanent resident). In addition, as a result of this election to be considered a “tax resident,” the non-resident spouse will also be subject to other disclosure requirements, such as the FBAR.

Generally, we don’t recommend filing a joint return with a non-resident spouse due to becoming subject to ongoing U.S. tax reporting requirements, unless the spouse has little to no current worldwide income for the foreseeable future.

All About Randall Brody
Randall is the Founder of Tax Samaritan, a boutique firm specializing in the preparation of taxes and the resolution of tax problems for Americans living abroad, as well as the other unique tax issues that apply to taxpayers. Here, they help taxpayers save money on their tax returns.

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