Given the following presence in the U.S.:
- (All previous years are only short tourist trips)
- 2016: 6 days (all under VWP)
- 2017: 0 days
- 2018: 87 days (4 VWP + 83 J-1)
The presence under the J-1 visa is for paid work at a university (after which I will return to Europe and do not plan to immediately travel to the U.S. except maybe short tourist trips in the near future).
When filing the 1040NR(-EZ) tax return, will I have to file Form 8843 in order to exclude days from counting with respect to the substantial presence test as an exempt individual?
To my understanding, I would fail the substantial presence test for 2018 anyway, even if I did count the J-1 days, which means I could "save" the exemption (which I am allowed to claim only twice) for later years in case I happen to work under a J-1 visa in the U.S. again.
The statement on the IRS website is not clear to me and sounds like filing Form 8843 is not ultimately necessary:
If you exclude days of presence in the U.S. for purposes of the substantial presence test because you were an exempt individual [...], you must include Form 8843, [...], with your income tax return.
Presume following future:
- 2019: 0 days
- 2020: 92 days (J-1, starting a 2-year postdoc in Oct)
- 2021: 365 days (J-1)
- 2022: 273 days (J-1)
If I don't have to claim exemption during my first two calendar years with J-1 presence (2018 and 2020), during which I will fail the substantial presence test anyway, I could save the J-1 exemption for 2021 and 2022 and could be taxed as a non-resident alien for these two years, too. Is this possible?