I'm not a US citizen, but was working until recently in the US with a work authorization visa (TN1)

For family reasons I had to go back to my country N (where I am a citizen) and I'm currently working remotely for my employer. Local tax office recently contacted me in my country N, I explained them the situation and by local laws I have to pay now taxes in country N.

My employer, however, does not have a proper setup to pay taxes internationally and most likely don't want to deal with that kind of situation. For simplicity, let's assume my annual salary is $100K and my overall tax is 30%. In my country N, the total tax on $100K salary is roughly 23%. My employer currently withholds all the taxes in the US, but I also will have to pay 23% on the $100K salary in country N.

Will I be able to claim from IRS full refund for all withheld taxes if I wasn't present in the US and paid all taxes in full on the salary in country N (eg I wasn't resident in the US)? If that's possible, can it be done in such a way so I wouldn't need to wait entire year to claim all these taxes back?

  • 2
    We need to know the name of country N, because that determines what tax treaties there are. – RonJohn Dec 3 '19 at 10:07
  • N is Kyrgyzstan. It doesn't seem like there is anything special regarding countries. If one doesn't pass substantial-presence-test then they are taxed as nonresident-aliens. Kyrgyzstan inherited tax treaties from USSR – Pavel P Dec 3 '19 at 11:18
  • 2
    Whatever the answer (which I don't know), I do know that they won't know to refund any money unless you first file a tax return. – RonJohn Dec 3 '19 at 12:06

I believe that you should not be subject to US taxes on your work income after you started working remotely from abroad, and your employer should not be withholding US taxes (including federal income tax as well as FICA tax (Social Security tax and Medicare tax), as well as any state taxes).

As a nonresident alien, you are only subject to US taxes on your income with a source in the US. Since you perform your work abroad, your income is generally not considered to be US-sourced, even though the company is in the US.

I am not sure how you can convince the company to correct this. Perhaps you can give them a form W-8BEN to document your foreign status. I am not sure whether the company would give you a W-2 at the end of the year -- on one hand, they normally shouldn't in your situation, since your income is not subject to US tax, but on the other hand, they withheld from you, so unless they refund the withheld taxes to you, you need documentation of the amount withheld to get a refund from the IRS. If your company won't refund it, getting Social Security and Medicare taxes back from the IRS is even trickier.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.