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As stated above, can an F1 student elect to be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes? As in, can an F1 student choose to not exempt their days in the US under the substantial presence test?

  • Will you be having Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from any assistantships that your university might be paying you? – Dilip Sarwate Sep 2 at 2:42
  • @DilipSarwate I want to claim the standard deduction, which can only be claimed by resident aliens – Andre Sep 2 at 16:21
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While there is no formal election (that I know of; the "first year election" under Section 7701(b)(4) is not really applicable here), there seems to be an informal "election" availble.

The substantial presence test provides an exception for "exempt individuals" (a category which includes F1 students). Specifically, under the exception, the days of the year during which the NRA was an exempt individual do not count toward the SPT. The important point here is that, in order to be entitled to the exempt individual status, the NRA must affirmatively claim the exemption on IRS Form 8843. The IRS specifically states in its instructions and the form itself that if the NRA does not timely file Form 8843, he cannot exclude the days he was present in the U.S. as an exempt individual.

So it appears that the student can effectively elect to be treated as a resident alien by simply failing to file Form 8843. So I, too, learned something new today....

  • Actually I don't think this applies for F1 students. The full text in Publication 519 reads "If you do not timely file Form 8843, you cannot exclude the days you were present in the United States as a professional athlete or because of a medical condition that arose while you were in the United States," which does not refer to students. – Andre Sep 2 at 16:20
  • @Andre - Interesting catch! There's seems to be a conflict between Publication 519, on one hand, and the IRS guidance cited in my answer and the instructions on the form itself, on the other. I still think that failing to file the form voids the exception for exempt individuals and from a quick review it seems to be the consensus; for example, "Failure to file this form may prevent the foreign student from excluding the days of presence in the U.S. and can thus result in the student being treated as a U.S. resident..." (link too long). But at the end of the day, it's obviously your decision. – Jack Fleeting Sep 2 at 18:22

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