U.S. Residency and Taxes: Am I a Citizen, Resident, Resident Alien, or Non-Resident Alien?

passport, hat, and toy airplane

For most people in the U.S., the answer is easy: If you hold a U.S. passport and you live in the United States, you are a U.S. citizen. But if you’re not a U.S. citizen and you live in the United States, things get a little more complicated when it comes to U.S. residency and taxes.

You Are a U.S. Citizen and/or National if . . .

. . . you were born in the United States or Puerto Rico, or your parent is a U.S. citizen, or you are a former alien who has been naturalized as a U.S. Citizen. Also, for tax purposes, those who were born in American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are considered U.S. nationals. All U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals, regardless of where they live in the world, are considered tax residents of the United States and must file taxes in the United States.

You Are a U.S. Resident or Resident Alien if . . .

. . . you are not a U.S. citizen but legally have permanent resident status in the United States (e.g., a green card). So, for tax purposes, you are considered a resident alien, which is the same thing as a U.S. resident or legal immigrant. In general, all resident aliens are taxed the same way as U.S. citizens

You Are a Non-Resident Alien if . . .

. . . you are not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident and are in the United States temporarily. However, there are instances in which you might need to file and pay U.S. taxes, especially if you participate in trade or business in the United States.

I’m a US. Citizen but Don’t Live in the United States

At this point, you’re probably thinking this means you don’t have to file taxes in the U.S. Unfortunately, you do. In the eyes of U.S. tax laws, you are a U.S. citizen no matter where you choose to live, and you must file taxes in the U.S. That being said, you may be able to take advantage of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (up to $120,00 for single filers) or the Foreign Tax Credit to offset being taxed by both countries.

We all have to pay our taxes. Call one of our tax preparers today to help.

**Please keep in mind: Tax laws, eligibility requirements and rates change often, and these lists are not exhaustive. Always contact a tax preparer for the most up-to-date information.