My son plans to attend school in the U.S.A., he is a U.S. citizen, but I am not. I will enter the country with a tourist visa. He will attend private school, and I own a house in the U.S. Do I have to pay taxes under these circumstances? Thanks.

2 Answers 2


It depends on how long you stay and where you earn your income. You can be a US resident for tax purposes even if you are not for immigration purposes. The "substantive presence test" probably applies to you:

You will be considered a United States resident for tax purposes if you meet the substantial presence test for the calendar year. To meet this test, you must be physically present in the United States (U.S.) on at least:

  1. 31 days during the current year, and
  2. 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
    • All the days you were present in the current year, and
    • 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
    • 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.


There are some exceptions to this test, and tax treaties may also apply. See IRS Publication 519 for more information.


If you earn money while in the US or from renting your US house - you have to pay taxes to the US on that income. If you become US tax resident - you have to pay US taxes on your worldwide income. Whether or not you're in the US illegally or receiving income while breaking any other law - doesn't matter at all.

  • You mean tourists also have to pay tax even they don't earn any income there? I plan to stay and leave the country accordingly to my visa, no breaking the law. I never rent my house and I did pay property tax.
    – May
    Mar 13, 2016 at 10:19
  • @May if not earning any money there and not becoming tax residents due the substantial presence test - then no. Treaties may also be involved.
    – littleadv
    Mar 13, 2016 at 16:16
  • Thanks littleadv, I just heard that if you live in the US over 183 days you need to file tax because my only income is from my husband working aboard and not in the US. We can't afford to pay tax in the US even though he used to work and pay tax before. We move out two years ago and now just want to put my kid back to school in USA.
    – May
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:32
  • @May Your husband is also not a US citizen, correct?
    – Joe
    Mar 14, 2016 at 14:19
  • 2
    @May The way that you've phrased your question indicates an intent to use your tourist via to immigrate. "Living in USA" vs "Visiting USA" is an important difference. Not sure which you really meant in this case, I think maybe it was the latter and that you used the wrong words. If it was the former, then the comment in this answer about breaking the law applies.
    – user32479
    Mar 14, 2016 at 18:52

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