1040NR vs 1040NR-EZ Form – Which Form Should You File for Income Tax

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In the United States, individuals must file their personal income tax returns on April 15th or the designated date set by the Internal Revenue Service. This date applies to residents, citizens living overseas, and non-resident aliens that have qualifying U.S. income.

You must file form 1040NR if you have dependents or a qualifying relative as a non-resident and have U.S. income.

You are classified as a non-resident under the following conditions.

  • You do not currently have a green card.
  • You have not met the substantial residence requirements, which are currently 31 days during the current tax year, and a total of 183 days over the past 3 years.

The current calculation for residency time takes one-third the total number of days spent in the U.S. in the past year, then 1/6 of the total days spent 2 years ago, plus the total number of days in the current year.

If you meet the residency requirements or you have a green card, then you would meet the qualifications as a U.S. resident for taxation purposes. You would then file Form 1040 and its schedules instead.

As of the 2018 tax year, the 1040EZ form is scheduled to be taken away.

What Happens If I Don’t Have Any Dependents or Qualifying Relatives?

If you do not have any qualifying relatives or dependents, but you still have U.S. income to declare as a non-resident, then you may be able to file Form 1040NR-EZ.

To qualify for the EZ version of this tax form, your U.S. income must have come from these qualifying sources.

  1. Wages that you were paid, by the hour, as a full-time or a part-time employee.
  2. Salary wages that you were paid over fixed pay periods.
  3. Tips that were earned as a waiter or in any other type of work where tipped income was received.
  4. A refund of state taxes, local taxes, or both.
  5. Taxable scholarships or fellowship grants.

If you are a non-resident, you must file your taxes with Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ as your return. If you use form 1040 or its variations as a non-resident, then the IRS may consider your tax return to be incomplete.

Do I Need to File Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ As a Foreign Exchange Student?

Even if you are a foreign exchange student, you may be required to file a tax return in the United States. Under the current filing requirements, the determination as to whether or not you must file depends upon your income status, your age, and your current filing status.

For those with a F-1 student visa without a green card, if you do not meet the residency requirements, then you will generally need to file a tax return under the status of a non-resident alien. You are not permitted to claim the education tax credit for any part of the tax year unless you can be treated as a resident alien under current tax law defnitions.

Under current figures, if you are single and under the age of 65, you must report any income above $400 of self-employment income and anything above $10,400 in W-2 income. If you are above the age of 65, the self-employment minimum remains the same, but the W-2 minimum rises to $11,950.

For couples who are married and filing jointly, the W-2 minimum is $20,800 for those under 65, $22,050 if one spouse is 65+ and the other is not, or $23,300 if both spouses are 65 or older. The self-employment income minimum still remains the same.

Qualifying widows and widowers have a W-2 minimum of $16,750 with dependent children when under the age of 65, or $18,000 if 65 or older.

Which Tax Form Should I Prepare?

Your immigration status will help to determine which 1040 form you should prepare and file when getting your taxes ready.

Resident aliens would file a standard 1040 form. Non-resident aliens would file a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ form. If you are a dual-status alien, then your tax status would change during the tax year and usually applies on your year of arrival and year of departure.

Special rules apply during your dual-status years. You cannot use the standard deduction allowed on Form 1040. There are special rules that apply if you are a non-resident alien from South Korea, Mexico, Canada, or a student/business apprentice from India.

Dual-status filers are not permitted to use the Head of Household tax tables and tax rate schedules. You are not allowed to file a joint return either, unless your spouse is a U.S. citizen or qualifying resident alien.

If you become a resident during the year, you must file form 1040. If you become a non-resident during the year, you may use form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ, depending upon your dependent status.

Dual-status residents must mark “Dual Status Statement” across the top of their 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ form when filing their taxes.

What Income Do I Need to Report for My Taxes?

For Tax Form 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ, all global income for your period of residence, along with all income that is connected with a business or trade that is based in the United States, is combined and taxed at the same rates which apply to citizens or qualifying residents of the United States.

Income that is not connected with U.S. businesses or trades that is earned while staying in the U.S. as a non-resident alien is taxed at either a 30% flat rate or at a lower treaty rate, depending upon your country of origin. You are not permitted to take any deductions against income that is not effectively-connected.

To report your income, all statements must include your name, address, and taxpayer identification number. You are not required to sign a separate statement or schedule that accompanies the tax return as the signature on the form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ applies to all supporting documentation.

How Do I File Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ?

To file taxes as a non-resident alien or a dual-status alien that is losing residency status in the tax year, you must print out your tax forms and schedules, sign the document, and then mail it to the IRS.

You may use tax preparation software to prepare the document. This will generate a PDF, which you can then print out, sign, and mail.

You must use the IRS mailing address that is closest to the address that is listed on your tax return. The IRS keeps a full list of addresses, separated by state, on their website for you to reference.

Tax laws can change at any time, so use this guide as a reference for informational purposes only. To learn more about what the current tax requirements happen to be, refer to IRS Publication 519.