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I am writing about the filing of tax return as a new permanent resident, whose deadline is April 15th 2014.

I wish to know if I am required to file, for I entered the US with a DV1 immigrant visa on December the 19th 2013. From then til December 31st 2013 I did not work (13 days of presence in US during 2013), and in those days I did not get any kind of income either.

As far as I can see from the internet I do not pass neither the presence test (31 days) nor the green card test for tax purposes ( I got the plastic card on April 5th 2014). Still some suggests I should file anyway, as avoiding this could be interpreted as a wish to abandon residence status.

Becoming a US resident on Dec 19th, 2013 (which equals to 13 days) and not earning anything by then in 2013, I would like to know if I need to file a tax return. For before Dec 19th, 2013 I was neither a US resident nor I was present in the US at all.

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    didn't you get your visa stamped with I-551 when you arrived? – littleadv Apr 12 '14 at 14:12
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    "nor the green card test for tax purposes ( I got the plastic card on April 5th 2014)." You become a permanent resident the moment you enter the U.S. with an immigrant visa. Whether you have the plastic card is not relevant. The "resident since" date on your green card also reflects this date. – user102008 Apr 12 '14 at 22:30
  • Yes, the visa I-551 was labeled in the passport at the consulate. – matias Apr 13 '14 at 7:48
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DV/IR visas, when stamped by the immigration officer at the port of your arrival (the airport where you went through the immigration) become your official green card. That is why they're stamped as I-551 - they are I-551 (the official document certifying to your status of a permanent resident alien). Stamped visa is as good as the physical green card for 1 year, during which you're expected to receive your physical card, which is what indeed happened in your case.

So you are a permanent US resident starting of December 19th (the date of your arrival). The date at which the physical card was waiting for you in the mail is of no consequence.

As to whether you need to file a return - if you didn't have any income (neither in the US nor abroad) during these 13 days, you probably don't have to file it. But if you want to cover your a$$ when the USCIS looks at you for whatever reason - file it anyway, even if it is an empty 1040EZ.

As a green card holder, you can file as a resident for the whole year, but pay attention: you need to declare, and pay taxes on, your worldwide income for the whole period of time you're filing as a US resident.

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    "As a green card holder, you can file as a resident for the whole year" I don't think that is true, unless he is married and filing jointly. – user102008 Apr 14 '14 at 4:17
  • @user102008 you think wrong. – littleadv Apr 14 '14 at 15:26
  • See irs.gov/publications/p519/… "If you are a U.S. resident for the calendar year, but you were not a U.S. resident at any time during the preceding calendar year, you are a U.S. resident only for the part of the calendar year that begins on the residency starting date. You are a nonresident alien for the part of the year before that date. " – user102008 Apr 14 '14 at 21:15
  • irs.gov/publications/p519/… "If you meet the green card test at any time during a calendar year, but do not meet the substantial presence test for that year, your residency starting date is the first day in the calendar year on which you are present in the United States as a lawful permanent resident." – user102008 Apr 14 '14 at 21:15
  • @user102008 "However, an alien who has been present in the United States at any time during a calendar year as a Lawful Permanent Resident may choose to be treated as a resident alien for the entire calendar year." irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/… – littleadv Apr 14 '14 at 22:37
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Another factor here--foreign bank accounts could cause you to need to file. IIRC it's $10k in assets but I wouldn't trust my memory on this.

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I'm not sure which version of the residency rules you looked at, but the statute itself is IRC § 7701(b)(1)(A)(i):

(A) Resident alien. An alien individual shall be treated as a resident of the United States with respect to any calendar year if (and only if) such individual meets the requirements of clause (i), (ii), or (iii):

(i) Lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Such individual is a lawful permanent resident of the United States at any time during such calendar year.

You were a lawful permanent resident. It doesn't hinge on which paperwork you received from immigration authorities. That way Congress doesn't rewrite the Tax Code for changes to immigration law.

Resident aliens are subject to the same filing requirements as US citizens, as per the 1040 Instructions. You do not have a tax-law obligation to file if you had zero income after you were lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

If you wish to file, or you must do so for some immigration-law reasons (which I couldn't comment on), then you should be able to do free e-file on many websites (don't bother with state filing).

  • Yes, and right under that, see "(2) Special rules for first and last year of residency ". The OP is in the first year of residence, and residency only starts when he entered the U.S. according to those rules. – user102008 Apr 15 '14 at 9:40
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    Read further down. §7701(b)(2)(A)(iv) references the "first year election" which is authorized by §7701(b)(4). At (b)(4)(B): "An alien individual who meets the requirements of subparagraph (A) shall, if he so elects, be treated as a resident of the United States with respect to the election year." The biggest pet peeve for tax law instructors is when you don't read all of the section, reg, or ruling. Frequently there will be a provision somewhere that basically says "completely ignore all of the preceding rules unless you're a trust agent operating exclusively in Mongolia" or whatever. – NL7 Apr 15 '14 at 14:55
  • I know about first-year choice. But 1) in order to use first-year choice, you need to be in the U.S. 31 days in a row, which the OP does not have, and 2) even if you use first-year choice, it only makes you dual-status (resident since the date of presence in the U.S.), not resident the whole year. See 7701(b)(4)(C) "An alien individual who makes the election provided by subparagraph (B) shall be treated as a resident of the United States for the portion of the election year which begins on the 1st day of the earliest testing period during such year with respect to which the individua..." – user102008 Apr 16 '14 at 21:55
  • Ahh, we had forgotten the 31 day rule. And I forgot that twist about (b)(4)(C). Good finds. – NL7 Apr 16 '14 at 22:12

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