The obligation to pay taxes in the U.S. is not exclusive to the U.S. citizens. If you fulfill certain criteria, you, as a non-U.S. citizen, might be well liable to pay taxes and to file tax returns. Depending on your residence status or how much time you spend in the U.S., you should ensure whether you must fulfill these obligations.
If you are a;
- green card holder, or
- a holder of nonimmigrant visas who satisfy the substantial presence test.
then you are considered as a resident alien for tax purposes. Resident aliens must report all their income from all sources on their U.S. tax return and pay income tax on it at the same rates as U.S. citizens.
Green Card Holders
A green card holder is a person who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. If you have a green card, you must pay U.S. taxes even if you spend most of your time outside of the country.
Nonimmigrant Visa Holders
Nonimmigrant visa holders are those entered into the U.S. with the purpose of temporarily visit or stay. However, if such person satisfies the substantial presence test, he/she might be liable for their taxes. Please note that there are many exceptions to this test and it would be better to consult with an expert if you have any doubts.
In general, to meet this test, you must be physically present in the U.S. on at least:
- 31 days during the current year, and
- 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the two years immediately before that. Please note that only 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year will be counted.
As stated, even though there are many exemptions, there is one that is worth noting, namely the closer connection exemption. If you:
- are present in the United States for less than 183 days during the current year
- have not applied for a green card
- have a closer connection with a foreign country than with the U.S., and
- maintain a tax home in this foreign country during the year.
You will be exempted from the aforementioned obligations even if you satisfy the general criteria.
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