Black Immigrant Daily News
Caribbean nationals in the USA most likely have never encountered an annual requirement to file tax information relating to their marital status, filing status, income earned, dependents and the like.
Every year, the US tax system requires this information from taxpayers who were US citizens or resident aliens for the entire tax year. One can file as early as January 23 but no later than April 15th unless granted an extension.
These areas are important to note:
Filing status – the Internal Revenue Service specifies several categories. They include single, head of household, married filing jointly, and married filing separately.
The last two can be confusing when a spouse is in the Caribbean waiting for immigrant visa approval. The couple might be uncertain. The term “separately” does not mean that the couple is separated because of problems in the union. That is important to understand.
Rather, the rule is that for married filing separately, a few things must be in place.
Firstly, the spouse might live permanently outside the USA. Secondly, the spouse does not earn an income in the USA or otherwise contribute to the US economy. Thirdly, the spouse does not pay any taxes on any wages, salaries or other income earned in the USA. Finally, the spouse also does not have a social security number.
Another scenario where married filing separately might occur is where the spouses own businesses and want to keep those financial records separate from their personal financial records.
The time to use married filing jointly is usually, therefore, when the spouse’s immigration benefit has been approved, the spouse comes to the USA and gets employment, or even if living overseas maintains enough economic ties to require the filing of taxes in the USA.
However, the category filing singly should only be used for unmarried persons.
Even if your spouse is overseas, you are married, there is only a physical distance. For tax purposes, you must choose married and then, depending on the specific situation, choose to file jointly or separately.
There are also spouses living in different states based on various obligations and who, dependent on specific circumstances, might need significant guidance related to how they file their taxes.
Filing taxes is crucial for immigration cases as every petitioner will have to provide proof of this or show formal arrangements with the IRS regarding filing extensions or payment arrangements.
There are many resources available that offer guidance on taxes and immigration implications, find them and be informed.
*This article does not constitute legal advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Nadine C Atkinson-Flowers is admitted to practice in the USA and Jamaica. Her US practice is in the area of immigration, while her Jamaican practice areas include immigration and general legal consultancy. She has been an attorney for over 15 years in Jamaica and has written articles for several legal publications. She is passionate about access to justice issues and volunteers with several legal, business, children and community service organisations in Jamaica and the US. She can be contacted at in**@at****************.com