I have stayed in US as a F1 student for more than 5 years, so have filed tax as a resident alien since more than two years ago.

  1. Last year, I opened a checking account with a bank, and received opening bonus of 200 dollars.

  2. This year I haven't received any tax form about the bonus from the bank. So I asked a bank representative recently, and he said their system couldn't generate a tax form for me, and was not sure why but some possible reasons were:

    • they looked up my record, and found that when I opened the account last year, a bank staff member gave me a single-page W8BEN form to fill out and sign, which at that time I didn't know was an incorrect form for a resident alien.

    • they recently closed my account upon my request, because I didn't want to go through the hassle in order to waive the monthly maintenance fee.

My questions are:

  1. For a nonresident alien for tax purpose,

    Although I am a resident alien now, I forgot what it was when I was a nonresident alien during my first five years in US, and required to fill out W8BEN. I vaguely remember that a nonresident alien might pay at a higher tax rate than a resident alien, but the bank says it didn't generate 1099 for me (so didn't report to IRS my bonus) possibly because I filled out W8BEN when opening the account.

    so how does filling out and signing a single-page W8BEN form affect the tax on a nonresidenent alien? Does it increase or decrease the tax rate for a nonresident alien?

  2. In my case, and me as a resident alien for tax purpose

    Although the representative at the bank said that their system couldn't correct the mistake of me filling out W8BEN, are there possible solutions to correct it?

    Or like what he said, the bank has never reported 1099 to IRS, and I might just not report the bonus? Is there any risk if not reporting it?


  • 1
    If the bank have not sent a 1099 then the risk of the IRS finding out by themselves is very slim. They would however expect you to report it, and might get grumpy if they later found out by means of an audit, etc (though that's also unlikely to happen). As a student though, I would assume your marginal rate is pretty low. What's the tax liability on this - $20-30? Maybe better to report it and pay tax just for piece of mind. Don't know about W8BEN.
    – CactusCake
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 12:47
  • This is not considered income, there is no reason to report it.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 12:49
  • 1
    @PeteB are you sure about that? I typically receive a 1099-INT in the years I have received an account opening bonus from a bank.
    – CactusCake
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 12:52
  • 1
    What is your taxable income for the year? It's possible you are under the minimum to even file a return. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 16:54
  • 1
    @PeteB. - cash back based on credit card usage, for example, is not taxable, but these bonuses aren't a return of ones own money, so even without the 1099, taxable. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 16:56


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