Whether you recently moved to the United States months ago or many years ago, if you have earned any sort of income, cash or check, it must be reported to the IRS regardless of your immigration status.
This is the time of the year when all U.S taxpayers must file their taxes, including non-residents. Many times, we tend to press “skip” after 5 seconds, change the channel or turn the page, even so, many questions come to mind: “I don’t have a social security number, should I still file?”, “Would I be affected in a negative way if I share my personal information with the IRS?”, “Is there any benefit to filing taxes?”, or “If I file my taxes, what steps should I take to do it correctly?”
If you give TurboTax a few minutes of your time, we would love to answer these questions. It is important that you know the answers. Only then can you make an informed, educated decision that will benefit you and your family.
I haven’t formalized my immigration status in the U.S, would it affect me in a negative way if I file my taxes?
There is nothing to fear when you file your taxes correctly and on time. The IRS establishes that the information on your tax return must remain confidential and should not be shared with anyone including some government entities, except for a few exceptions. Following the principles established in this law, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights also establishes that each taxpayer, regardless of their immigration status, has the right to privacy, which means that when you file your taxes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not investigate more than necessary. By filing your taxes, you are complying with the law. And as we all know, in any aspect of life, we feel better and sleep better when we are following the law, or in this case with the IRS.
What are the benefits if I decide to file?
There are many benefits you might qualify for if you decide to file. Let’s say that you are an employee, and that throughout the year you paid taxes. It often happens that we pay more taxes than we owe. The only way to get back what you deserve is to file your taxes. Also, there are some tax credits that you can benefit from, regardless of your immigration status. For example, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) up to $2,000 and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) which may give you an additional $1,400 in refundable credits per qualifying child. A refundable tax credit can give you a tax refund even if you don’t have any taxes due.
Although both credits require the child to have a social security number, you as a taxpayer can claim it even if you are not eligible to obtain a social security number, as long as you have obtained an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) provided by IRS before the deadline to file your taxes. Two other credits that you can benefit from, even if neither you nor your dependents are eligible to obtain a social security number, are the new Credit for Other Dependents up to $500, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit up to $2,500 per eligible student, but you do need to have an ITIN to claim these credits.
Another benefit to filing your taxes, regardless of your immigration status, goes beyond tax benefits. If you intend to begin a naturalization process to become a permanent resident, one of the requirements is to be able to prove that over a period determined by immigration law, you have been a person of good moral character. One of the ways to prove that you meet that requirement is by showing evidence that you have been filing your taxes correctly and on time.
I don’t have a social security number, what steps should I take to file my taxes?
The IRS requires tax returns to have a personal identification number. Most taxpayers can use their social security number for this purpose. However, what if you are not eligible to obtain a social security number? Recognizing this situation since 1996, the IRS has been issuing individual tax identification numbers (ITINs) so that people who are not eligible for a social security number can file their taxes. This number is requested through the W-7 form, which is estimated to take between 6-10 weeks to be processed. If you do not have your ITIN yet, do not worry, the IRS allows you to send your tax return simultaneously with your W-7 form along with the documentation that confirms your identity. This is very convenient for those who have to file their taxes for the first time.
Another very important step is to have documentation to support the income and expenses that you claim on your tax return. The majority of these documents are provided by your employer, financial institution or, in some cases, the government itself. Just make sure to keep them safe and have them on hand when you file your taxes.
What if you work on your own and have your own business? In this case, you are required to keep records that reflect your income and expenses during the year. This may sound like a lot of work, but once again, you do not have to worry. TurboTax Self-Employed will ask you simple questions about you and your business and help you uncover the industry-specific tax deductions you deserve and file confidently. When you use TurboTax Self-Employed you get a year of Quickbooks Self-Employed for free, so you can easily track your income, expenses, and mileage year-round. You can then export your business information to your TurboTax Self-Employed tax return, eliminating data entry.
In summary, regardless of your immigration status, you shouldn’t be afraid to file your taxes. Remember that with TurboTax Live you can get your tax questions answered from the comfort of your own home. You can connect live via one-way-video to credentialed tax experts – CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and Tax Attorneys with an average of 15 years of experience. Our TurboTax Live CPAs and Enrolled Agents are now available year-around for unlimited help, in both English and Spanish at no extra charge. You can get personalized advice, have your return reviewed, signed and even filed if you prefer using your computer, tablet or smartphone and from the comfort of your home.