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I've been in the US with a J1 visa for one year now (non-resident alien for tax purposes) and expect to stay here for two more years. IRS website says that only US-source income is taxable for nonresident aliens, but I wonder does it apply to foreign investments too? specifically, if I invest in gold in Forex** using one of the offshore brokers (which are mostly not regulated in the US) should I pay taxes in the US on the gains? If not taxable, would I still need to report the gains to IRS when I fill taxes?

** This allows me to invest with leverage, compared to, say, buying a gold ETF

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  • When did you arrive in the US on J1? Are you a J1 student or some other kind of J1? Have you been to the US in F or J status before this?
    – user102008
    Aug 24 '20 at 16:50
  • I've been in the US for one year now. on J1 working at a university as a research assistant.
    – Investor
    Aug 24 '20 at 19:24
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Since these are not effectively connected to a US trade or business you operate (which would be taxed at 'resident' rates regardless of your residence), and you are physically present at least half the year, YES these are taxed at 30% or the treaty rate applicable to your nationality. See Pub 519 'Sales or Exchanges of Capital Assets' and particularly the subsection '183-day rule'. To be clear, like for citizens and residents, only realized gains are reported and taxed; 'paper' gains are ignored -- except if you become a lawful permanent resident (aka green card holder) and then abandon or lose that status (or are a citizen and relinquish your citizenship, but that doesn't apply to you) and have really large paper gains (like millions of dollars).

You might want to familiarize yourself with the rest of Pub 519 as well, since US tax for non-resident aliens is even more complicated and often bizarre than that for citizens and residents, which is quite bad enough. It can also be downloaded in PDF by going up to the parent page using the link at the top of the page. Enjoy your stay :-)

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