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I've been in the United States since January 2009 under an F1 student visa. Since that time I have left the united states only once in December 2009. For the past few years I've been filing taxes as a non-resident alien for tax purposes due to the F1 student visa exemption. However I believe that i read somewhere that after 5 calendar years you are no longer exempt. Does that mean when I go to file my taxes for the 2014 tax year I can do so as a resident alien for tax purposes? I've also looked at the substantial presence test but as far as I understand I would meet the requirements there as I have not left the country since 2009. Mostly just trying to verify that I read the documentation correctly.

Additional questions:

Can I now just file using turbotax or similar like every other citizen/resident? Does the fact that I was recently approved for a H1B visa make any difference?

Thanks again for any help

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    You should get advice from a tax professional about this. – Ellie Kesselman Nov 12 '14 at 12:11
  • I am in the same situation. I am a resident alien as of Jan. 1, 2014. I have a twist to this situation. I am from Canada. I graduated in June 2014, returned home for the summer and started full time work in the U.S. Aug. 1, 2014. The tax authorities in Canada (CRA) see my departure date as Aug. 1, 2-14. Will I be taxed on worldwide income by both countries. Do a treaty kick in to determine a consistent date? – user24435 Jan 3 '15 at 22:00
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I've also looked at the substantial presence test but as far as I understand I would meet the requirements there as I have not left the country since 2009

Your days in F1 status do not count towards the substantial presence test. However, days in F1 status beyond 5 years do count. See here for details. Knowing that you'll have to do the math and see if you qualify under the substantial presence test or not.

If you do not qualify then you continue filing as non-resident.

Can I now just file using turbotax or similar like every other citizen/resident?

If you qualify under the substantial presence test to be full-year resident then yes. Otherwise I wouldn't advise you to do that.

Does the fact that I was recently approved for a H1B visa make any difference?

Not in particular. Days in H1b status are never exempt, so they do count towards the substantial presence test.

Either way, it is likely that next year you'll qualify to be resident, which means you can chose making this year "dual status". That means that you file NR tax return until the day you finished your 5 years as F1 or switched to H1b (which ever comes first), and resident tax return for the rest of the year.

That means you'll be filing two forms for the same year. H&R Block/TurboTax and such are not equipped to handle this, you'll either have to do it manually or have a tax professional do that for you. However, that may not be beneficial to you, you'll have to do that math and see if it is worth your while.

  • "That means that you file NR tax return until the day you finished your 5 years as F1" He finished the 5 calendar years in 2013. – user102008 Nov 14 '14 at 22:36
  • @user102008 January 2014 to be more precise – littleadv Nov 14 '14 at 23:01
  • No, the end of 2013. December 31, 2013. It does not matter when in 2009 he came to the U.S. It could have been December 31, 2009; it would not make a difference. – user102008 Nov 15 '14 at 0:30
  • @user102008 I wouldn't be so categorical. A lot of things depend on circumstances, including residence determination of F1 students. Under 5 calendar years the exemption is automatic, above it - not necessarily (in some cases it still is), but you can still be exempt. – littleadv Nov 15 '14 at 4:22
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Does that mean when I go to file my taxes for the 2014 tax year I can do so as a resident alien for tax purposes?

Not only can you file as a resident -- you must file as a resident, because you are a resident alien for tax purposes for all of 2014.

Time as a student is not exempt from the SPT if you have been exempt for any part of any 5 previous calendar years. You were an exempt individual for part or all of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 -- five calendar years. Therefore, no time as a student during 2014 is exempt from the SPT.

As you have been in the country for more than 183 days in 2014, you meet the SPT and are a resident alien for all of 2014 assuming you were in the U.S. at the start of 2014.

Can I now just file using turbotax or similar like every other citizen/resident?

Yes. Depending on your country of residence before coming to the U.S., there may be tax treaty provisions that still apply to you which you may take advantage of. If so, then it is difficult or impossible to claim those benefits with the popular software.

Does the fact that I was recently approved for a H1B visa make any difference?

No. Time on H1b is never exempt from the SPT. As discussed above, your time on F1 in all of 2014 is also not exempt from the SPT. So there is no difference.

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