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I reported my income but wasn't taxed on it. Do I report an income of zero?

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Hey everyone,

I'm an American filing for a CR-1 Visa for my wife. I think we're almost to the interview stage, but my affidavit of support (the i-864) came back with a couple of mistakes. Most seem simple but this one has me a bit stumped:

I've been living abroad for the last few years, and each time I filed my taxes I claimed a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. This means that I include my W-2's from my (Japanese) employer, which are my sole source of income, and because Japan is my current tax home and my income isn't above a certain amount (something like $80,000), I can exclude that amount from my total income. This means that my adjusted gross income is zero when I file my taxes, even though they can see all this paperwork and how I arrived at that amount (my salary, minus my salary, equals zero).

So... am I just setting myself for failure when I include this paperwork and tell USCIS that my income is zero, on form i864? When I sent my paperwork I wrote the salary amount as my income, and was told that it should be my adjusted gross income. But that's zero?? Should I just write a note explaining this? (even though my taxes should already explain it) Thanks for any insight you can provide.

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Hey everyone,

I'm an American filing for a CR-1 Visa for my wife. I think we're almost to the interview stage, but my affidavit of support (the i-864) came back with a couple of mistakes. Most seem simple but this one has me a bit stumped:

I've been living abroad for the last few years, and each time I filed my taxes I claimed a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. This means that I include my W-2's from my (Japanese) employer, which are my sole source of income, and because Japan is my current tax home and my income isn't above a certain amount (something like $80,000), I can exclude that amount from my total income. This means that my adjusted gross income is zero when I file my taxes, even though they can see all this paperwork and how I arrived at that amount (my salary, minus my salary, equals zero).

So... am I just setting myself for failure when I include this paperwork and tell USCIS that my income is zero, on form i864? When I sent my paperwork I wrote the salary amount as my income, and was told that it should be my adjusted gross income. But that's zero?? Should I just write a note explaining this? (even though my taxes should already explain it) Thanks for any insight you can provide.

First, you must realize that the USCIS is not the IRS and they only know what they have been trained--your AGI must match what you state. Second, are you sure you are completing the tax form correctly? You AGI is your AGI from your Japanese employer. Where you take the income tax credit is on the backside of the form to come up with your TAXABLE income--that should be zero. Your AGI should reflect what your salarty is plus all investment income and losses. You would take the Foreign tax credit on Schedule A if I remember correctly and that will reduce your taxable income to zero, but that is line 40 and your AGI is reported on lines 37 and 38. You may want to file an amended return or you may want a letter from your employer and several of your most recent pay stubs to show your current income from a foreign source and then state that your taxable income is zero, but maybe the form is not filled out correctly.

Third, I am not a tax advisor nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express so I may no tbe correct, but I have completed many tax returns in my life and I find it odd that your AGI is reported as zero on line 37 when I think it should be your salary plus all the additions and minus all the subtractions and I do not see the Foreign income tax credit listed as a subtraction before line 37. I would expect line 43 to be zero as that is your TAXABLE income.

Good luck,

Dave

Edited by Dave&Roza

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In the CR-1 process, USCIS doesn't decide whether or not to accept or reject the I-864, a CO at the Embassy or Consulate makes that call.


Our journey:

Spoiler

September 2007: Met online via social networking site (MySpace); began exchanging messages.
March 26, 2009: We become a couple!
September 10, 2009: Arrived for first meeting in-person!
June 17, 2010: Arrived for second in-person meeting and start of travel together to other areas of China!
June 21, 2010: Engaged!!!
September 1, 2010: Switched course from K1 to CR-1
December 8, 2010: Wedding date set; it will be on February 18, 2011!
February 9, 2011: Depart for China
February 11, 2011: Registered for marriage in Wuhan, officially married!!!
February 18, 2011: Wedding ceremony in Shiyan!!!
April 22, 2011: Mailed I-130 to Chicago
April 28, 2011: Received NOA1 via text/email, file routed to CSC (priority date April 25th)
April 29, 2011: Updated
May 3, 2011: Received NOA1 hardcopy in mail
July 26, 2011: Received NOA2 via text/email!!!
July 30, 2011: Received NOA2 hardcopy in mail
August 8, 2011: NVC received file
September 1, 2011: NVC case number assigned
September 2, 2011: AOS invoice received, OPTIN email for EP sent
September 7, 2011: Paid AOS bill (payment portal showed PAID on September 9, 2011)
September 8, 2011: OPTIN email accepted, GZO number assigned
September 10, 2011: Emailed AOS package
September 12, 2011: IV bill invoiced
September 13, 2011: Paid IV bill (payment portal showed PAID on September 14, 2011)
September 14, 2011: Emailed IV package
October 3, 2011: Emailed checklist response (checklist generated due to typo on Form DS-230)
October 6, 2011: Case complete at NVC
November 10, 2011: Interview - APPROVED!!!
December 7, 2011: POE - Sea-Tac Airport

September 17, 2013: Mailed I-751 to CSC

September 23, 2013: Received NOA1 in mail (receipt date September 19th)

October 16, 2013: Biometrics Appointment

January 28, 2014: Production of new Green Card ordered

February 3, 2014: New Green Card received; done with USCIS until fall of 2023*

 

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Dave, I thank you for sharing your advice! I worry about this issue every year. However, after reading your message, I checked a few other sources, and I'm pretty sure that I am doing it correctly on the tax form. Take this link for one example among many: it tells me to write the income exclusion as a negative number on line 21. If my entire income is contained in that "foreign income exclusion" then I have a total of zero income when I reach line 37.

BUT I take your first point. I will match my numbers on my tax form to the i-264. Which leads me to Ryan H.

Ryan, thanks very much for telling me that. It's quite a relief to hear. In that case, if it's not just a mechanical process in a USCIS office somewhere, I'm sure this can be understood by the consular officer. Sounds good.

I'm going to write my income as zero in the i-264. Just to be safe, I'm going to ask my parents to send their own i-264 as joint support. This increases my risk of another mistake (and another 60 days!!), but I think we can get it all correct this time. If that sounds like a dumb idea, I'm glad for anyone reading this to tell me. Thanks again!

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