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My husband is on F-1 OPT. We are filing Form 1040 NR (under married filing separately. Although I don't have any income. AM on F-2, not filing taxes).

Together with the Form 1040 NR we are filing:

Form 8843 form 540 NR (long form) form CA (540 NR)

My questions:

  1. Are we filing the correct forms? are they adequate?
  2. Where will contribution to 401(k) appear in tax filing? Will it appear under 17 a (Pensions and annuities) or under Itemized deductions?

  3. If Standardized deduction is claimed (Line 38 of Page 2, Form 1040-NR), will it appear on Page 5 (Schedule OI) under L-1 (Tax treaty)?

2 Answers 2

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  1. Are we filing the correct forms? are they adequate?

Maybe. 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ is right if you are a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes. Usually if this is within the first 5 calendar years in which you are an international student (e.g. for filing 2016 taxes, if you came on F-1 in 2012 or later), you are a nonresident alien.

For California tax purposes, whether you are resident or nonresident doesn't have anything to do with your immigration status. Usually if you live in California I would consider you to be a resident. But resident or non-resident doesn't make a difference if you don't have income from outside California.

  1. Where will contribution to 401(k) appear in tax filing? Will it appear under 17 a (Pensions and annuities) or under Itemized deductions?

Generally, nowhere.

  1. If Standardized deduction is claimed (Line 38 of Page 2, Form 1040-NR), will it appear on Page 5 (Schedule OI) under L-1 (Tax treaty)?

I don't think so. That's for income that is excluded from being counted as taxable income, which is different from being able to use a deduction.

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Contribution to an old-style 401k appears on your W2 form as reduced taxable income, and gets copied into the tax return from there. That money gets taxed when it is withdrawn.

Contribution to a Roth 401k doesn't affect your current taxes at all, since that's funded with post-tax money. However, you won't pay taxes when you start drawing it down.

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