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tl;dr: what does the word "Resident" mean in a tax treaty

Hi,

I'm a Belgian PhD Student (F-1) at an accredited US research university. My F-1 visa status officially started in July 2016. From September 2015 until June 2016, I was also in the US as a J-1 Research Scholar at a different institution. I left the US for one week in July in order to get the F-1 visa at my home embassy.

The Belgium-US tax treaty stipulates a two year exemption for students and researchers, which I made use of for my J-1 income from 2015. I am planning to do the same for my J-1 income from 2016.

I'm trying to determine whether I can claim the same exemption for my F-1 income up until September 2017. The key text in the treaty seems to be (Art 19 (2))

An individual who is a resident of a Contracting State 
at the beginning  of his visit to the other Contracting 
State [and ...] shall be exempt from tax ...

I've been able to determine that I am not a 'US resident for tax purposes'. Even though I would pass the Substantial Presence Test, all my days in the US have been on either a J or F visa, which is exempt from the SPT. What I cannot find a clear answer to is whether 'not being a US resident for tax purposes' automatically implies that I am a 'resident of Belgium for tax purposes'.

Given my visa history and status, would the IRS still consider me a resident of Belgium?

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Student and researcher are generally treated differently in the tax treaties. So you can only exempt your income as researcher while you were in fact researcher. As to whether you can exempt your income as a student - depends on the treaty article regarding students.

Not being US resident doesn't automatically make you Belgian resident, you need to check the Belgian law to determine whether you're (or were, before moving to the US) a Belgian tax resident.

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