Nonresident Aliens: Canadian and U.S. Tax Issues
Canadian & U.S. Tax IssuesForeign Income & Foreign Income ExclusionsNonresident Alien - GeneralNonresident Alien - Tax WithholdingNonresident Alien - Students
I am a Canadian citizen living and working in the U.S. for a U.S. employer on a visa.
Do I need to file both a U.S. tax return and a Canadian tax return?
You must comply with both U.S. and Canadian filing requirements, if any. In the
United States, you generally are required to file a return if you have income from
the performance of personal services within the United States. However, under certain
circumstances, that income may be exempt from payment of U.S. tax pursuant to the
U.S.-Canada income tax treaty. You need to determine what type of visa you have,
and how that impacts your residency status in the United States. If, based on the
tax code and your visa status you are treated as a U.S. resident, then your entitlement
to treaty benefits will be impacted. You must contact the Canadian government to
determine whether you must file a Canadian tax return and pay Canadian taxes.
I am a nonresident alien. Can I take the foreign earned income exclusion if
I meet the bona fide resident test or physical presence test? If yes, what is the
tax form used for nonresident taxpayer?
No, nonresident aliens do not qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. Only
if you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and live abroad,
may you qualify to exclude a specific amount of your foreign earned income. Refer
to chapter 4 of Publication
54 Tax Guides for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, for
limitation that apply. If you are the nonresident alien spouse of a U.S. citizen
or resident alien, you can elect to be treated as a U.S. resident in order to file
a joint return. In this case, you can take the foreign earned income exclusion if
otherwise qualified. Refer to
Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for detailed instructions
on how to make this election.
However, nonresident aliens would be able to exclude their foreign earned income
under the dual-status rules. Refer to
Tax Topic 852 for dual-status information. A nonresident alien is generally
not subject to U.S. tax on compensation for services performed outside the U.S.
I live in a foreign country. How do I get a social security number for my dependent
who qualifies for a social security card??
Use Form SS-5-FS which may be obtained from the Social
My spouse is a nonresident alien. How can I get a nonworking social security
number for her?
Each foreign person who does not have and cannot obtain a social security number
must use an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on any U.S. tax
return or refund claim filed. For additional information on ITINs click on
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
Under my visa as a temporary nonresident alien, I'm not subject to social security
and Medicare withholding. My employer withheld the taxes from my pay. What should
I do to get a refund of my social security and Medicare?
If social security tax and Medicare were withheld in error from pay received which
was not subject to the taxes, you must first contact the employer who withheld the
taxes for reimbursement. If you are unable to get a refund from the employer, file
a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service on
Form 843 (PDF), Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.
You must attach the following to your claim:
- a copy of your Form W-2 (PDF),
Wage and Tax Statement, to prove the amount of tax withheld;
- Form I-797, INS Approval Notice, is needed if you have changed your status
from F-1 or J-1 to another status prior to filing the claim;
- if your visa status changed during the tax year you should attach copies of the
pay stubs that cover the period of exemption from social security taxes;
- a copy of INS Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, if you are still in the United
- a copy of your valid entry visa;
- Form 8316 (PDF)
, Information Regarding Request for Refund of Social Security Tax
, or a signed statement stating that you have requested a refund from the employer
and have not been able to obtain one; and
- a copy of Form 1040NR (PDF)
, US Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return (or
Form 1040NR-EZ (PDF)), for tax the year in question. Processing of your
claim may be delayed if you submit it less than six weeks after you filed Form 1040NR
In addition to the documentation listed above foreign student visa holders should
also attach the following:
- a copy of Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility, endorsed by your student advisor
and stamped by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services; and
- a copy of the Employment Authorization Document of your Optional Practical Training
(e.g., Form I-766, I-538 or 688B).
- if you are an exchange visitor, attach a copy of Form IAP-66 or DS-2019 to your
File the claim, with attachments, with the IRS where the employer's returns were
filed. If you do not know where the employer's returns were filed, send your claim
to the Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255.
For more information, refer to Chapter 8 of
Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens .
Are nonresident alien students, with F-1 or J-1 visas and employed by a U.S.
company during the summer, required to have federal income taxes withheld from their
The following discussion generally applies only to nonresident aliens. Wages and
other compensation paid to a nonresident alien for services performed as an employee
are usually subject to graduated withholding at the same rates as resident aliens
and U.S. citizens. Therefore, your compensation, unless it is specifically excluded
from the term "wages" by law, or is exempt from tax by treaty, is subject to graduated
withholding. Nonresident aliens must follow modified instructions when completing Form W-4 (PDF). Please refer
to chapter 8 of Publication
519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for directions on completing
Form W-4 (PDF), Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate.