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I have been in the US since August 2011, during which I left the country only for 3 weeks. Therefore, I must file my taxes this year as a resident alien for tax purposes. So my question is this:

What exactly are gonna be different for me this year?

I have searched the internet and read multiple sources on this topic but none of them really says anything other than you have to file a different form because you are a resident for tax purposes. However, I would like to know if this is a good thing or a bad thing for an F1 student, in general. To put it bluntly, do I get more refund or less refund?

From one source, I read that a US citizen who makes less than $10.000 a year gets full refund. On the other hand, F1 students do not get any tax refund once they become resident alien for tax purposes only.

  • In my experience it is easier and much faster to file them as a resident. I remember filing them as a nonresident was intricate and required providing a lot of information. Does your country have a tax treaty with the US? If so you might not be able to claim whatever advantages come from the treaty if you file taxes as a resident. – mathemagician Oct 31 '16 at 0:44
  • there is no treaty between the U.S and my country. Also, I think that I must file the taxes as a resident even if I would get more refund as a non-resident. – dezdichado Oct 31 '16 at 1:02
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Some differences:

  • Resident aliens can choose the standard deduction vs itemized deductions. Nonresident aliens can only use itemized deductions (and only certain itemized deductions are allowed). In cases when one's income is low and doesn't have much itemized deductions, the standard deduction is a big benefit.
  • A married resident alien can file jointly (as in "Married Filing Jointly" filing status) with their spouse if they both choose to. Two married nonresident aliens can only file separately. Filing jointly is almost always better than filing separately, especially when the two people's incomes are very different.
  • Resident aliens can claim dependents (and can be claimed as dependents). Nonresident aliens can't.
  • Nonresident aliens in F status (and some other statuses) are exempt from FICA tax (Social Security tax and Medicare tax). Resident aliens in any status are subject to FICA tax, except for F-1 students working on campus.
  • The foreign income of resident aliens is subject to US tax; whereas the foreign income of nonresident aliens isn't. This only matters if you have income outside the US.
  • Some (but not all) tax treaty provisions are subject to "saving clauses" that say they do not apply to residents, and thus only nonresident aliens can use them. This doesn't apply to you since you said there is no tax treaty between the US and your country.
  • Thanks for the detailed answer. It seems as though only 1 and 4 are applicable to my situation. I will accept this as an answer if nothing more conclusive is posted in a day or two. – dezdichado Oct 31 '16 at 6:13

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