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.