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khans1025

Married filing separate or joint for foreign spouse currently in i-130 process

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Okay I feel like this is a common situation and someone would have an answer:

 

I am a USC and currently waiting on my husband's spouse visa petition approval (form i-130). Obviously I know I have to file taxes as "married" status for 2018 since we were married in August 2018. 

My husband is in Costa Rica and doesn't have much income. My question is, would I file as jointly, or separately? He has never been outside of his country and so never had income from the US.

 

Does it even matter? Could I file jointly and just put his income as 0, or do I technically have to file as separate, since we are living apart at the moment? 

 

This is my first time filing as not single so I'd like a little guidance... but I don't think my situation is super specific that i'd need a tax professional so I figured i'd ask the forum

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probably separately.  He would need an SSN or ITIN to be able to file jointly.  

 

If you file separately you may need to paper file as well. 


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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You can file either MFS or MFJ. MFJ usually provides a significant tax break. However, they must have an SSN or ITIN to do so. Since he has never been in the US, the only option sounds like getting an ITIN first if you go that route.

If filing MFJ, he must report his worldwide income...but the FEIE and/or FTC will likely eliminate any tax liability associated with that income.

 

The alternative is to file MFS now then amend later to MFJ once he has an SSN.


Timelines:

Spoiler

AOS (I-485 + I-131 + I-765):

9/25/17: sent forms to Chicago

9/27/17: received by USCIS

10/4/17: NOA1 electronic notification received

10/10/17: NOA1 hard copy received. Social Security card being issued in married name (3rd attempt!)

10/14/17: Biometrics appointment notice received

10/25/17: Biometrics

1/2/18: EAD + AP approved (no website update)

1/5/18: EAD + AP mailed

1/8/18: EAD + AP approval notice hardcopies received

1/10/18: EAD + AP received

9/5/18: Interview scheduled notice

10/17/18: Interview

10/24/18: Green card produced notice

10/25/18: Formal approval

10/31/18: Green card received

 

K-1:

Spoiler

I-129F

12/1/17: sent

12/14/17: NOA1 hard copy received

3/10/17: RFE (IMB verification)

3/22/17: RFE response received

3/24/17: Approved!

3/30/17: NOA2 hard copy received

 

NVC

4/6/2017: Received

4/12/2017: Sent to Riyadh embassy

4/16/2017: Case received at Riyadh embassy

4/21/2017: Request case transfer to Manila, approved 4/24/2017

 

K-1

5/1/2017: Case received by Manila (1 week embassy transfer??? Lucky~)

7/13/2017: Interview: APPROVED!!!

7/19/2017: Visa in hand

8/15/2017: POE

 

 

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2 minutes ago, NikLR said:

probably separately.  He would need an SSN or ITIN to be able to file jointly.  

 

If you file separately you may need to paper file as well. 

He would be eligible for ITIN, could I submit for him a request to get an ITIN?

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Just now, khans1025 said:

He would be eligible for ITIN, could I submit for him a request to get an ITIN?

Yes it's a w7 and you'll need his passport or a certified copy of his passport. 


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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my husband simply submitted an extension that was accepted.  But I'm Canadian and sponsorship isn't much of an issue.  


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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4 hours ago, geowrian said:

You can file either MFS or MFJ. MFJ usually provides a significant tax break. However, they must have an SSN or ITIN to do so. Since he has never been in the US, the only option sounds like getting an ITIN first if you go that route.

If filing MFJ, he must report his worldwide income...but the FEIE and/or FTC will likely eliminate any tax liability associated with that income.

 

The alternative is to file MFS now then amend later to MFJ once he has an SSN.

This is all really good advice.  Depending on how different your incomes are and where you fall in the tax brackets, you can end up with very different marginal tax rates for the two options.  You can probably pretty easily calculate the different tax rates and figure out if it's worth the extra effort to pursue either of the routes above.  


I-130

May 14, 2016: Sent I-130 Package to Chicago Lockbox

May 18, 2016: Chicago Lockbox received package.

May 20, 2016: NOA1 Notice Date with priority date of May 18. Sent to Nebraska Service Center

May 23, 2016: NOA1 E-mail

Oct 21, 2016: NOA2 Notice by App

Nov 2, 2016: USCIS sent to NVC

 

NVC

Nov 8, 2016: NVC Received

Nov 16, 2016: Case Number Assigned

Nov 18, 2016: DS-261 submitted and AOS fee paid

Nov 23, 2016: IV Fee Invoiced and paid

Nov 30, 2016: IV and AOS Packages Sent (EP)

Dec 4, 2016: DS-260 Submitted

Dec 5, 2016: NVC Scan Date

Dec 6, 2016: NVC 3 N/A and Case Complete on Phone [1 day later!]

Dec 13, 2016: NVC CC e-mail

Dec 15, 2016: Found out interview date by phone

Jan 23, 2017: Interview...Approved!

 

Jan 30, 2017: POE Toronto Pearson Airport

 

Removing Conditions

Nov 2, 2018: Sent I-751 to Arizona Lockbox

Nov 7, 2018: Apparent receipt date (SMS notification on 11/9)

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8 hours ago, AstroCanada said:

This is all really good advice.  Depending on how different your incomes are and where you fall in the tax brackets, you can end up with very different marginal tax rates for the two options.  You can probably pretty easily calculate the different tax rates and figure out if it's worth the extra effort to pursue either of the routes above.  

Exactly what you do.  You prepare it each way and select the best option


YMMV

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I'm also curious if it is important for the CO officer at the embassy whether the taxes are filed MFJ or MFS? Will it cause additional scrutiny at the interview if it's MFS? 

My husband filed the last year as MFS as I'm not in the USA waiting the whole spouse visa in my home country. We thought that if filing jointly, my income will be taxed in the USA along with my country too. I have SSN. 

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9 minutes ago, Diachka said:

I'm also curious if it is important for the CO officer at the embassy whether the taxes are filed MFJ or MFS? Will it cause additional scrutiny at the interview if it's MFS? 

My husband filed the last year as MFS as I'm not in the USA waiting the whole spouse visa in my home country. We thought that if filing jointly, my income will be taxed in the USA along with my country too. I have SSN. 

NO issue... it was married so that's the main thing


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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12 minutes ago, Diachka said:

I'm also curious if it is important for the CO officer at the embassy whether the taxes are filed MFJ or MFS? Will it cause additional scrutiny at the interview if it's MFS? 

My husband filed the last year as MFS as I'm not in the USA waiting the whole spouse visa in my home country. We thought that if filing jointly, my income will be taxed in the USA along with my country too. I have SSN. 

No issue. MFS vs MFJ is a personal decision based on tax liability, not the legitimacy of the marriage.

Edited by geowrian

Timelines:

Spoiler

AOS (I-485 + I-131 + I-765):

9/25/17: sent forms to Chicago

9/27/17: received by USCIS

10/4/17: NOA1 electronic notification received

10/10/17: NOA1 hard copy received. Social Security card being issued in married name (3rd attempt!)

10/14/17: Biometrics appointment notice received

10/25/17: Biometrics

1/2/18: EAD + AP approved (no website update)

1/5/18: EAD + AP mailed

1/8/18: EAD + AP approval notice hardcopies received

1/10/18: EAD + AP received

9/5/18: Interview scheduled notice

10/17/18: Interview

10/24/18: Green card produced notice

10/25/18: Formal approval

10/31/18: Green card received

 

K-1:

Spoiler

I-129F

12/1/17: sent

12/14/17: NOA1 hard copy received

3/10/17: RFE (IMB verification)

3/22/17: RFE response received

3/24/17: Approved!

3/30/17: NOA2 hard copy received

 

NVC

4/6/2017: Received

4/12/2017: Sent to Riyadh embassy

4/16/2017: Case received at Riyadh embassy

4/21/2017: Request case transfer to Manila, approved 4/24/2017

 

K-1

5/1/2017: Case received by Manila (1 week embassy transfer??? Lucky~)

7/13/2017: Interview: APPROVED!!!

7/19/2017: Visa in hand

8/15/2017: POE

 

 

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8 minutes ago, geowrian said:

 

 

11 minutes ago, NikLR said:

NO issue... it was married so that's the main thing

 

8 minutes ago, geowrian said:

No issue. MFS vs MFJ is a personal decision based on tax liability, not the legitimacy of the marriage.

That's good news. Thank you! 

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