Should I claim tax treaty benefits as an Indian working in the US on F1 Visa, non-resident status for tax purposes, on my w8 form? It was issued by my bank in US for holding a savings account with them.

  • 1
    What benefits are you thinking of claiming? Jul 5 '18 at 16:13
  • Does the form you were given by your bank indicate an amount they have paid to the US IRS in tax on your behalf? Jul 5 '18 at 16:16
  • They gave me a form to fill and submit. @Grade'Eh'Bacon I am not sure what to claim. I thought the form is for Non resident aliens to avoid taxation on savings interest?
    – marti
    Jul 6 '18 at 2:08
  • @DJClayworth They did not indicate an amount.
    – marti
    Jul 6 '18 at 2:09
  • @marti Fair warning - even if your employer gives you a tax form to fill out, if you sign it, it is your responsibility. If you ask your employer directly, they are quite likely to tell you 'we are not supplying tax advice, this is purely a convenience for some people to whom this situation applies'. Jul 6 '18 at 16:41

There are a number of things this form might be.

It might be just a form telling you how much income you got from your savings account. The expectation is that you will copy the amount into the relevant line of your tax return. If you are not required to pay US taxes you can ignore this, though you probably have to declare the income to the country where you are resident too.

It might be a form telling you that the bank has deducted - or will deduct - tax from your interest income and sent it to the IRS. Some countries do this, although I thought the US didn't. If you pay US tax then you again just put the numbers off the form into your tax return. If you also pay taxes elsewhere, again you have to put the same numbers into that tax return too.

It might also be a form asking if you are a US taxpayer. If you tell them you aren't the bank can avoid sending part of your interest to the IRS, and send it all to you.

The way tax treaties work, in general, is that if you pay some US tax, you also put the amount of tax paid to the US in the return for the other country, and they reduce the amount of tax you have to pay pay roughly that amount.

However, if you are in a position where you might have to file taxes in two countries I recommend you hire a tax professional skilled in this area. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.

  • None of those is W-8. Notice of potentially taxable income and if applicable withholding is 1099-INT for resident or 1042-S for nonresident (or 8828-A for real property). Note F-1 is a tax-nonresident (for five years) even though they actually live here. US does withhold on 'FDAP' (fixed or determinable annual or periodic) US-source payments to nonresidents unless they are subject to a treaty that reduces or exempts it which is what W8BEN is for (and even then US gets first crack at actually taxing). Identifying as a tax resident is done on W-9 or for employment W-4. Aug 5 '18 at 19:34

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