Resources for Filing as "Resident Alien for Tax Purposes"
There are both advantages and disadvantages to filing as a "resident alien for tax purposes" compared to filing as a nonresident.
The bad news:
- your bank interest is considered taxable income (not taxable for nonresidents)
- you must declare your worldwide income (nonresidents declare only U.S. income)
- Social Security and Medicare taxes are withheld from your wages
- You cannot use GLACIER Tax Prep
The good news:
- you can file electronically
- you don't file the form 8843 or any other form if you had no income
- you may not need to file any forms if your gross income was below a certain threshhold
- you may be able to claim the following credits, exemptions or deductions
- Child Tax Credit
- Childcare Credit
- Education Credits (See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education)
- Earned Income Credit
- Personal Exemption for qualified spouse and dependent children (must have Social Security Number or ITIN)
- Standard deduction or itemized deductions
- Chinese students who are resident aliens may still qualify for tax treaty benefits. The eligibility and procedure for this is explained well by our colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin.
There are many resources for filing as a resident for tax purposes:
- The IRS provides a good overview in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
- "Free File" online federal tax preparation and electronic filing through the IRS for individuals with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less. See the Free File page on the IRS web site.
- The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance lists the companies that offer free e-filing for both federal and state taxes if you qualify. See the E-File for free with FreeFile page on their web site.
- There is free tax assistance at some New York Public Library neighborhood branches, including the Morningside Heights branch on Broadway and 113 Street.
- Commercial tax preparation software such as TurboTax and www.taxact.com. The federal tax return forms are the 1040EZ or the 1040. As the name implies, the 1040EZ is a very simple one-page form to complete.
- Using a professional tax prepareris easier as a resident for tax purposes because most tax preparers are not familiar with nonresident tax regulations and forms.
Last Reviewed: January 30, 2015
Last modified: 24 February 2014
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office