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I have a few questions related to what tax forms I need to complete based on my circumstances.

  • I am a U.S. citizen.

  • I lived/worked abroad for several years, up until summer 2017.

  • In summer 2017, I repatriated to the U.S. for a job, and worked in the U.S. for the remainder of the year.

  • I am married, and my spouse is a Green Card holder who did not work in 2017.

Questions:

  1. Because I'm a citizen, I cannot file with dual status, correct?

  2. My wife on the other hand, should file with dual status, even though she didn't earn any money, correct?

  3. For my foreign income, can I just list it on my 1040 and then file 2555EZ?

  4. Is there any way to get the childcare credit if one spouse was looking for a job, but didn't have earned income?

Thanks!

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    Clarification to consider [you may not want to answer]: Have you been filing your tax returns annually, which you are required to do as a US citizen [subject to income under the threshold], regardless of your country of residence? This may impact how you decide to do your filings this year, including in particular whether you hire an accountant to assist in making sure your past years are filed correctly. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Apr 10 '18 at 17:37
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    Yes, I've been filing every year. It's been pretty straightforward, as my income was below the threshold such that I could just use the 2555EZ. The new wrinkle this year is simply that I've moved back to the US midyear and earned US income. – DaGu Apr 10 '18 at 19:48
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  1. Because I'm a citizen, I cannot file with dual status, correct?

Correct. As a citizen, you are not an alien, so you cannot be a resident alien, non-resident alien, or dual-status alien.

  1. My wife on the other hand, should file with dual status, even though she didn't earn any money, correct?

It depends. If she is filing separately (i.e. filing status "Married Filing Separately"), she might be dual-status if she became a permanent resident in the middle of the year, and was not in the US before then.

However, generally it would be beneficial tax-wise to file jointly (i.e. filing status "Married Filing Jointly"), which you guys can do with the Choosing Resident Alien Status option, which treats her as a resident alien for the whole year, and you guys would file jointly. Note that treating her as a resident would make her worldwide income the whole year subject to US taxes, though she would be able to use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion on the 12 months before she came to the US.

  1. For my foreign income, can I just list it on my 1040 and then file 2555EZ?

I think so

  1. Is there any way to get the childcare credit if one spouse was looking for a job, but didn't have earned income?

I don't think so

  • Many thanks @user102008! It seems like we're better off using the Foreign Tax Credits (1116) than the Exclusion (2555), as the latter doesn't allow us to claim the "additional child tax credit." Or could I do Credits for me, Exclusion for my wife, and still claim the credit? If I were to do Credits for both, I would do: one joint 1040 for both of us, and then two F1116s (one for each of us), and then add the 1116 credits together and apply it to our joint 1040? Finally, if we include my wife's foreign income, can we now claim the childcare credit for our time in the US? Thanks! – DaGu Apr 13 '18 at 13:33

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