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According to Pub. 519 Chapter 5, Indian F1 visa taxpayer can claim spouse as dependent in Line 7c of 1040NR along with ITIN application 'APPLIED', if they don't have income. (My spouse on F2 visa, so no SSN/ITIN yet).

Also I remember Article 21, says Individual/Married Filing Separately can use standard deduction of around $6250 instead of Itemized deductions.

The agent at H&R Block seems to be unsure but told me that since I am claiming my spouse as dependent, its not married filing separate and hence I cannot claim Standard deduction.

Can someone confirm if I can take both standard deduction as well as claim spouse as my dependent? Or any advice on getting this information from an official source? I mailed IRS but not sure If I will ever get reply.

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The agent at H&R Block seems to be unsure but told me that since I am claiming my spouse as dependent, its not married filing separate

This person doesn't know what they are talking about. Even discounting the fact that these tax people usually deal with citizens and residents and might not know much about nonresident alien tax issues and tax treaties, that statement is still completely incorrect for citizens and residents -- someone filing Married Filing Separately can claim an exemption for their spouse if their spouse had no income and is not filing a return, and is not claimed as a dependent by someone else. Claiming an exemption for your spouse is a completely different thing from filing as Married Filing Jointly (which you as a nonresident alien cannot do anyway).

To answer your question, yes, you can use the standard deduction and claim an exemption for your spouse.

  • Thank you @user102008 I am aware that We should write ".Standard Deduction Allowed Under U.S - India Income Treaty" for Line 38, Standard Deduction, Should we also write something similar on Line 40 (EXemptions) since I will be claiming another exemption for my spouse on Line 7c? – Diny Mar 19 '18 at 14:45

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