Published on: November 27, 2020 Last modified: January 14, 2021

A Comprehensive Guide to IRS Form 1040-NR: Taxes for Non-Residents

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    It can feel incredibly difficult to find work these days, especially if your application requires you to check the box stating that you’re not a United States citizen, but that’s where IRS Form 1040NR comes in. Nonresident aliens may need to handle their taxes a little differently once they’re on the job, too, which makes understanding the requirements — and any changes to them — increasingly important to avoid Internal Revenue Service (IRS) penalties

    Are you familiar with Form 1040NR? Do you know everything you need to know to make sure you’re filling out your taxes and managing them correctly? This guide will give you a better idea of how to fill out IRS Form 1040NR and ensure you are handling all those important details for tax purposes.

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    What is a Nonresident Alien?

    A nonresident alien is a person residing in the U.S. who is not a U.S. citizen and does not meet either of the tests for being a resident alien. The two tests include:
    You should first ensure neither the green card test or substantial presence test exempts you from filing form 1040NR. Resident and nonresident aliens are taxed differently in the United States, and must fill out different forms to file their taxes properly.
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    What is Form 1040-NR?

    Form 1040-NR is the version of the IRS tax return nonresident aliens fill out as they conduct business in the U.S. and earn any income in the country each year. This is particularly important if you plan to reenter the U.S. or apply for permanent residency status, as you will need to show that you made the effort to manage your taxes properly in either case. 

    Unlike many tax return forms, you cannot fill out Form 1040NR electronically. Instead, you will need to fill out a paper version of the form and mail it in to the IRS. Here’s what you need to know about filing that document.

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    Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out Form 1040-NR

    To fill out form 1040NR, make sure you have the right information on hand and that you’re ready to properly prepare and submit the form. An experienced tax attorney can help if you have questions or for help putting it together.  Form 1040NR will include:
    Form 1040NR can help you determine whether you are entitled to a tax refund or if you need to pay taxes on your income that have not already been taken out of your paycheck during the calendar year. If you have questions about the information you must provide, especially about your income or your deductions, consider working closely with a tax attorney.
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    4 Common Problems When Filling Out Form 1040-NR

    If you want to be sure that you receive the maximum amount for your refund, or if you want to increase your odds of changing your visa status in the coming years, you want to be sure that you avoid common problems associated with filling out Form 1040NR.

    Due to the form not being filled out digitally, you must check the numbers yourself or work with a tax attorney to ensure its accuracy. Reduce the odds of potential penalties by avoiding the following common issues.

    1. Filing as a resident instead of as a nonresident alien using Form 1040-NR

    One of the most common mistakes is simply filling out your taxes as a resident rather than using Form 1040-NR.

    Hint: If you used common tax prep software, you likely filled out your forms incorrectly. If you’ve already filed your return, make sure you take steps to fix the error as soon as possible. If not, consider working with an experienced tax attorney to learn more about how to fill out the form correctly.

    2. Filing with the wrong marital status or without dependents

    Your marital status makes a big difference in your tax deductions and withholding. Even if you got married late in the calendar year, you will still file as a married individual in the U.S.

    3. Failing to file tax paperwork

    If you’re in the U.S. as a student, for example, you might not realize you need to fill out Form 8843. Make sure you consult a tax attorney to learn more about the forms you must fill out and what information you must include.

    4. Incorrectly calculating your income

    Some people struggle to accurately calculate their income over the calendar year. You must include all income earned within the U.S., no matter the source. If you have questions about what constitutes income, consult a tax attorney to learn more.
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    Need Help Filing Form 1040-NR?

    Filling out your taxes can be complex even as a resident of the U.S. As a nonresident alien, you may need additional help filling out your tax forms and making sure you understand your legal obligations.Contact Silver Tax Group today to speak with an expert about any Form 1040NR questions you might have.

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