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I'm not American. I was a resident alien and worked legally for 9 weeks in the US a few years ago. I received a US SSN. The job turned bad and I went back to Canada.

I never filled a US tax form, but I filled a Canadian one, reporting the US salary, and paid the extra tax (difference between higher tax in canada and what US employer had kept aside). So, I'm pretty sure there's nothing I could possibly owe. My understanding is that the two governments share data, anyway.

How can I check that my situation is completely regular, though?

Reason for asking is that I'm currently employed by the Canadian branch of a US company and the stock option plan requires me to fill an W-8BEN. I'm confident I can check "[x] US tax doesn't apply to me", but since I received a US SSN in the past, I'd prefer no surprise came up.

Any thoughts ?

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  • "Any thoughts?" Many, and most would make a sailor blush.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 3:24
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    You said you were "a permanent resident". A US permanent resident means you immigrated to the US and got a green card. Is that correct? Or were you in some other status?
    – user102008
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 1:27
  • Concur with user102008 if you were awarded Lawful Permanent Resident status aka green card that makes a big difference. But having an SSN assigned does not, especially if your card says, as it should, something like 'valid for employment only if approved by DHS' (as opposed to citizen SSN cards which are unconditionally valid for employment). Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 3:07
  • Corrected terminology. Was on h-1b. Apologies.
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 3:10
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    The withholding by your U.S. employer doesn’t exactly correspond to the U.S.tax owed. Probably you’re due a refund from the U.S. and you underpaid your Canadian taxes that year. It’s possible, though less likely, that there wasn’t enough withheld and you owe additional U.S. taxes. The way to reconcile this is to prepare a U.S. tax form for that year.
    – prl
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 16:27

1 Answer 1

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These might help:

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/determining-alien-tax-status

If you are an alien (not a U.S. citizen), you are considered a nonresident alien unless you meet one of two tests. You are a resident alien of the United States for tax purposes if you meet either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year (January 1-December 31).

https://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/tax-residency/United-States-Tax-Residency.pdf

Substantial Presence Test – An alien individual will meet the substantial presence test if the individual is physically present in the United States for at least:

  1. 31 days during the current calendar year; and
  2. 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current calendar year, and the 2 calendar years immediately preceding counting:

a. All days of physical presence in the United States during the current calendar year, and

b. 1/3 of the days the individual was present in 1st preceding year; and

c. 1/6 of the days the individual was present in 2nd preceding year.

Thus, if you only ever worked lived in the US for those 9 weeks, then it looks like you are Resident Alien.

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    One stay of 63 days does NOT meet the substantial presence test, which anyway would only apply to the past year and not now, but the Q says 'permanent' resident which, if it really means 'LPR = Lawful Permanent Resident', does meet the green card test both then and now if it hasn't been revoked. Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 3:03
  • @dave_thompson_085 questions can be ambiguous. The quotes from the IRS don't change; however, I changed one word in my conclusion.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 3:23
  • If the OP only ever lived in the US for those 9 weeks, they never passed the Substantial Presence Test for any year.
    – user102008
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 3:11

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