I've one question regarding MFS tax return considering below case:

  • If spouse has not completed 183 days stay in USA, tax status is Non Residential Alien.
  • and if primary income holder in USA is considering to file tax return with status - Married Filing Separately
  • spouse don't have any income in USA

Q. Does spouse really needs to file tax return separately to IRS considering above case ?

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


Generally, a nonresident alien only needs to report their US income on their US tax return. So if your spouse is a nonresident alien (note that having less than 183 days in the year does not necessarily mean they do not pass the Substantial Presence Test -- a fraction of days in the previous 2 years are also counted; also, if you are a US citizen or resident alien, you can choose to have your spouse treated as a resident and file jointly) and does not have income from the US, they would not need to file a tax return.

However, if you live in a community property state, your income is community income, which means half of it is considered your income, and half of it is considered your spouse's income. In that case, you would only report half of your income on your Married Filing Separately tax return, and your spouse would need to file a nonresident tax return reporting the other half of your income.

  • @ user102008 "nonresident alien only needs to report their US income on their US tax return" - Does it also applicable if we choose NRA to Resident Alien for tax return with jointly filing ?
    – sachin003
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 15:15
  • 2
    @sachin003: No. If you treat a nonresident spouse as resident, then their worldwide income needs to be reported for US taxes, although they may be able to use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and/or Foreign Tax Credit to reduce the US tax on their foreign income.
    – user102008
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 15:29

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