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I am here on an F-1 visa, my wife is here on an F-2 (both non-resident). My wife doesn't have income, but I do. I think my wife did not have to file tax return but she did and we filed separately.

My wife doesn't have a SSN and is not eligible for one. Now she has received a letter from IRS saying that "we have received your tax return but we need your SSN. If you are not eligible for SSN you have to file form W-7 to get an ITIN".

  • She did not need to file tax return since she doesn't have income, right?
  • Does she have to get an ITIN now that she filed tax return, or is it possible to somehow cancel the tax return (as she doesn't have to file it)?
  • If she wants to apply for ITIN, according to W-7 instructions, she has to send her original passport to the IRS, is this a safe and routine procedure?
  • You're saying she filed a tax return that was basically all zeroes (since she doesn't have income)? – user102008 May 23 '17 at 18:31
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If you wish to file jointly, she does need an ITIN. (Edit: filing jointly is not possible according to your answer below and some comments.) If it would make a difference on your taxes to file form W-7, that would be a routine procedure.

If you are not comfortable sending her passport in the mail, you can also appear in person at a Taxpayer Assistance Center.

  • Agreed, it's probably safe enough to send your passport via certified mail, but it's better to be sure and appear in person to sort it out. It's definitely worthwhile getting an ITIN and also filing jointly. Not sure why the OP filed separately. – Peter K. May 23 '17 at 14:59
  • @PeterK. the university tax assistants told us to do so :/ what are the perks of filing jointly when my wife doesn't have income? – Kennet Celeste May 23 '17 at 15:16
  • @Yugi You can use her deductions, so you effectively double your deductions. Especially useful if she's not earning income and you trust each other. More $ in your pocket, less to the IRS. – Peter K. May 23 '17 at 15:36
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    @PeterK. fortunately I didn't have any income in 2016 as I was less than a month present in the US. But I will definitely do it for the next year. Thank you – Kennet Celeste May 23 '17 at 15:41
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    "If you wish to claim your wife as a dependent on your taxes" A spouse is never a "dependent". "or you wish to file jointly" The OP said they are "both non-resident"; if that's true, they cannot file jointly. – user102008 May 23 '17 at 18:30
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For anyone who is looking for an answer: Although Nathan's answer was good, after doing more research, I noticed that a non-resident F-2 getting an ITIN is worth nothing because F-2 holders are not allowed to work. Even with her having an ITIN, we can't file jointly (both non-resident). So getting an ITIN is just extra paperwork.

I called the IRS to see if they would disregard the filed tax return of my wife. I told them she has received a letter asking for SSN/ITIN(W-7), but she wouldn't need to file the tax return in the first place. So how can I cancel/disregard the tax return? They said "Don't answer the letter of the IRS and that will be equivalent to cancellation because further processing is not possible without your wife's SSN/ITIN requested by letter."

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