Can I claim my wife outside the USA for taxes?

Lowering the tax bill is essential for many people, especially for families who are not the wealthiest in the United States, but who, for their annual salary, must pay more taxes than the neediest. Precisely for this, the IRS and the federal government designed the claims, credits and exemptions.

Claiming your wife as a US citizen is as simple as putting her name and Social Security number on the form. The problem comes when your spouse is not an American or lives in the United States.

In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions by immigrants to the country is if they can claim their wife outside the USA for taxes. The answer is a bit complicated, but it is not negative. It can and, by doing so, the taxpayer will also enjoy other special benefits.

Can I claim my wife outside the USA on taxes?

Why should you claim your spouse on your tax return?

Before 2018, everyone who was claimed on the tax return allowed taxpayers to reduce their tax bill. Previously -and to be more specific, until 2017- this claim gave a kind of relief of a little more than $4,000 per person claimed.

However, the tax rules changed from 2018. What modifications were introduced in that year? Basically, the prohibition of claiming the exemptions of various dependents in the calculation of taxes.

Does this mean that the IRS no longer takes dependents into account to lower the tax bill? Not necessarily. There are new ways to reduce your tax burden, but they work differently than they used to.

Note: Not all the states of the country have adapted the rules of state taxes to the macro law. For example, although in California there are no longer the same exemptions as before, it is allowed to claim both the wife and the non-American or resident children in the country on the tax return. If you have questions about how things are handled in your state, we recommend visiting a tax specialist.

Can I claim my wife outside the USA for taxes for 2021?

Yes. However, the ability to claim your non-US spouse will depend on their immigration status. Tax law generally tells you that in order to claim someone as a dependent, they must be:

  • American citizen
  • naturalized citizen
  • Foreign resident in the USA

But what is a resident alien and what is its difference from a non-resident alien? Let’s see. Resident aliens have a green card, which is nothing more than a federal authorization to legally work and live in the United States.

Are there other scenarios in which a foreigner is considered a resident by the IRS? Yes. If a foreigner has been in the country for more than a month -but less than 183 days- for three consecutive years, they have an in-person test that could be filed with the IRS for the claim.

Any foreigner who does not meet either of these two conditions is considered a nonresident alien and, therefore, cannot be claimed directly on the tax return..

How to claim my wife outside the USA for taxes?

If your wife falls under either of the two conditions above, you can include her on your tax return. To do this, your wife needs to have a Social Security number. (SSN) or, if you do not have it, at least a valid and current ITIN.

What if your wife doesn’t have an ITIN? Well, you could apply, as long as she meets the eligibility requirements to do so. Now, if your wife is a non-resident alien living in Mexico, you could decide to file a joint return in the United States..

The problem with this is that, although you will receive a special deduction, all your income outside the US will have to pay taxes in the United States. This might not be a smart move because you would spend a lot of money on it. Why? Because it is possible that the reduction you would earn by including your wife in the declaration could be less than what you will have to pay for declaring your income earned in Mexico in the United States.

Tip: If you want to know more about the declaration of a spouse outside the USA as a dependent for taxes, be sure to visit the IRS frequently asked questions section.

Can I claim my wife outside the USA by filing a declaration as head of household?

Unfortunately not. In order to file as head or head of household, you must have a filing status of single, divorced, or widowed; contribute more than half of the money needed to support the home where your dependents live; and – perhaps most difficult of all – living with those dependents for at least half a year plus one calendar day.

There are some exceptions to the dependent eligibility conditions, but they do not relate to the spouse, but to the parents. If you help your parents from the United States and they live in Mexico, there is an opportunity to claim them as dependents, even if they do not live with you in the same house. For it:

  • You must take care of more than half of their expenses.
  • Prove that they earn at least $4,150 annually.
  • Request an ITIN number to be able to make the declaration.

Tip: If you have doubts about this matter, we recommend that you consult your case with a certified public accountant or with a tax specialist.

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