Residency Requirements for Alien Taxpayers

For federal tax purposes, an individual’s immigration and residency status is used to determine whether they are subject to federal taxation. This is particularly relevant for foreign individuals residing in the United States. These individuals generally fall into two categories: nonresident aliens or resident aliens.

If someone is not a United States citizen, they are considered a nonresident alien unless they meet either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the tax calendar year, which is January 1st – December 31st.

  • Under the green card test, an individual is a resident for federal tax purposes if they are a lawful permanent resident of the United States at any time during the calendar year.
  • Under the substantial presence test, an individual’s cumulative physical presence is used to determine residency status. To meet this test, an individual must be physically present in the United States on at least: 31 days during the current year and 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that. Only a proportion of the days an individual is present during the 2 years immediately before the current year are counted towards the 183-day requirement. There are several exceptions to the definition of “physically present.”

There are several nuances of the residency determination tests that are used to determine an alien’s residency status for federal tax purposes. If you have questions about whether you are required to pay federal taxes, please contact Migration Resource Center Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) at 646-827-2959 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your tax situation.

BY: Chanel Harris, Migration Resource Center Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Attorney