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First time tax prep married...NEED Guidance

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2018 was the first year I have US earned income in almost 10 years as I was living abroad and earring below the IRS salary minimum to do submit taxes. So....in that time, so much has changed with the US, and I am now married and I'm so lost.

 

Here's a little bit of info for anyone that has any guidance...

Arrived back to the US in September 2017 and got married in October 2017 and submitted AOS in November 2017

Started my first job in the US in February 2018 (since leaving the last one in 2009) 

My husband hasn't begun working as his combo card was approved only a few days before his AOS interview in December 2018. 

We have medical coverage through the Marketplace as my job does not provide it to employees.

 

I have my W-2 for 2018 and form 1095-A from Marketplace. Is it recommended to use a tax preparation service for this year (I really don't want to pay anyone) or is Turbo Tax straight forward enough to do it myself? 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, tab0712 said:

2018 was the first year I have US earned income in almost 10 years as I was living abroad and earring below the IRS salary minimum to do submit taxes. So....in that time, so much has changed with the US, and I am now married and I'm so lost.

 

Here's a little bit of info for anyone that has any guidance...

Arrived back to the US in September 2017 and got married in October 2017 and submitted AOS in November 2017

Started my first job in the US in February 2018 (since leaving the last one in 2009) 

My husband hasn't begun working as his combo card was approved only a few days before his AOS interview in December 2018. 

We have medical coverage through the Marketplace as my job does not provide it to employees.

 

I have my W-2 for 2018 and form 1095-A from Marketplace. Is it recommended to use a tax preparation service for this year (I really don't want to pay anyone) or is Turbo Tax straight forward enough to do it myself? 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

We are figuring out our joint filing this year and let me tell you, there's A LOT of rules when it comes to taxes with a foreigner. Does he already have his Green Card?
We tried to file ourselves via turbo tax, but since I don't have my Green Card yet there's a lot of special rules we have to follow to file jointly and report my foreign income, so we are going to use an accountant in our family to help us out. My best advice is to get an accountant too for this first year, but maybe someone else on this forum has more experience and can help you out.

Edited by C90

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6 minutes ago, C90 said:

We are figuring out our joint filing this year and let me tell you, there's A LOT of rules when it comes to taxes with a foreigner. Does he already have his Green Card?
We tried to file ourselves via turbo tax, but since I don't have my Green Card yet there's a lot of special rules we have to follow to file jointly and report my foreign income, so we are going to use an accountant in our family to help us out. My best advice is to get an accountant too for this first year, but maybe someone else on this forum has more experience and can help you out.

If you lived out of the country and did not have a GC at the time then you do not need to report your foreign income at all. 

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40 minutes ago, tab0712 said:

2018 was the first year I have US earned income in almost 10 years as I was living abroad and earring below the IRS salary minimum to do submit taxes. So....in that time, so much has changed with the US, and I am now married and I'm so lost.

 

Here's a little bit of info for anyone that has any guidance...

Arrived back to the US in September 2017 and got married in October 2017 and submitted AOS in November 2017

Started my first job in the US in February 2018 (since leaving the last one in 2009) 

My husband hasn't begun working as his combo card was approved only a few days before his AOS interview in December 2018. 

We have medical coverage through the Marketplace as my job does not provide it to employees.

 

I have my W-2 for 2018 and form 1095-A from Marketplace. Is it recommended to use a tax preparation service for this year (I really don't want to pay anyone) or is Turbo Tax straight forward enough to do it myself? 

 

Thanks in advance!

I have used Turbo Tax since 2010 and living out of the country from 2010-2013. Turbo Tax is pretty straight forward for foreign earned income and a new husband/wife that is a PR. 

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Just now, Cyberfx1024 said:

If you lived out of the country and did not have a GC at the time then you do not need to report your foreign income at all. 

We looked on the IRS website and it seems they say you have to report foreign income from any of the people on the tax return if you want to file jointly. But exactly for that reason we let an accountant look at it, we're a little overwhelmed with all the info on the IRS website and it's a little unclear what exactly they want. 

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I can send you the name of my accountant.  She did an outstanding job of getting us through all the tax and foreign bank account reporting reporting requirements for us the first year my wife was a resident.  Her fees are very reasonable......I'm hiring her again this year.


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1 minute ago, C90 said:

We looked on the IRS website and it seems they say you have to report foreign income from any of the people on the tax return if you want to file jointly. But exactly for that reason we let an accountant look at it, we're a little overwhelmed with all the info on the IRS website and it's a little unclear what exactly they want. 

That's the thing though is your spouse that was NOT a permanent resident or here on any family/work based. So they do not have to report that income at all. 

1 minute ago, missileman said:

I can send you the name of my accountant.  She did an outstanding job of getting us through all the tax and foreign bank account reporting reporting requirements for us the first year my wife was a resident.  Her fees are very reasonable......I'm hiring her again this year.

They came in on a K1 visa so it is different. 

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Just now, Cyberfx1024 said:

That's the thing though is your spouse that was NOT a permanent resident or here on any family/work based. So they do not have to report that income at all. 

What we read is that if you want to file jointly, you can send the IRS an explanation that you want to report your non resident alien spouse as a resident alien spouse although they don't qualify for it yet (in their case he obviously qualifies for it since he became LPR in 2018, although there are different rules for that too) In that case you usually  need to report any foreign income that the NRA has made outside the US. But again, I might be wrong, that's why we hire an accountant and that's why I advised to get an accountant instead of advising them to do a certain thing, since I don't have enough knowledge of this to give any answer with certainty. The last thing we want is filing incorrect and getting bitten in the a** next year when we file and have to pay a huge amount of money to the IRS. 
Also, I think they mentioned that the LPR didn't have income in 2018 cause his combo card came right before their GC interview in December 2018, so there should be no income to report at all since he lived here since 2017 but never worked here.

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6 hours ago, Cyberfx1024 said:

I have used Turbo Tax since 2010 and living out of the country from 2010-2013. Turbo Tax is pretty straight forward for foreign earned income and a new husband/wife that is a PR. 

I am earring USD now in the US. What I was earning in Mexico from 2010-2017 was under the equivalent of $10,000 usd so the IRS doesn't care if you file. 

But you said Turbo Tax is easy? I just really feel with all my time away with no filing, I may be a red flag and they will do an audit on me and I could screw this up big time. I don't have the extra $ to pay an overpaid accountant as my husband hasn't started to work yet. 

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54 minutes ago, geowrian said:

Depends on RA/NRA status what needs to be reported.

 

If one is an NRA for the entire year (doesn't pass the bona fide resident or substantial presence tests) and has no income, then they don't have to report anything (or even file, technically). But if they do file, then MFJ is not available.*

If one is a dual status alien (NRA part of the year, RA part of the year), then they only need to report income in the US. But MFJ is not available.*

If one is a resident alien for the entire year, then all worldwide income for the entire year be reported. MFS and MFJ are available. SSN or ITIN is required for both filers.

 

The issue is that to file MFJ, both individuals must be considered RAs for the entire tax year.

 

*A spouse of a USC or LPR can elect to be considered an RA for the entire tax year via the election/choice statement. That said, they then fall into the 3rd option above (full year RA) and have to report all worldwide income.

Note that this is report...generally most to all income can then be excluded via the FEIE and/or FTC.

 

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf, page 15

"Nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens.

Generally, a married couple can't file a joint return if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the year. However, if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2018, you can elect to be treated as a resident alien and file a joint return. See Pub. 519 for details."

 

Do you still have to report it if you don't qualify? What I understand from FEIE is that the foreign income has to be pretty high ($95k+) to NOT be excluded. I didn't make anywhere near that in my former home country in 2018 and I moved here August 2018, have not been working in the US yet since I'm still waiting for EAD. I wonder if we should report my income and the IRS automatically excludes it or not. Note: I don't qualify for RA so we have to send the statement that we want me to be treated as an RA for 2018

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6 minutes ago, C90 said:

Do you still have to report it if you don't qualify? What I understand from FEIE is that the foreign income has to be pretty high ($95k+) to NOT be excluded. I didn't make anywhere near that in my former home country in 2018 and I moved here August 2018, have not been working in the US yet since I'm still waiting for EAD. I wonder if we should report my income and the IRS automatically excludes it or not. Note: I don't qualify for RA so we have to send the statement that we want me to be treated as an RA for 2018

Yes, all worldwide income has to be reported if you are an RA for the entire tax year. You cannot exclude income unless it is first claimed (and as silly as it sounds, nobody forces you to take an exclusion if you don't want it...it's not automatic).

Edit: By "not qualify" I'm assuming you mean you are not compelled to be an RA (via the substantial presence and bona fide resident tests). The election statement then treats you as an RA for the entire year anyway.

 

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/aliens-which-income-to-report

"Resident Aliens report their entire worldwide income on Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ like U.S. Citizens."

Edited by geowrian

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20 hours ago, tab0712 said:

2018 was the first year I have US earned income in almost 10 years as I was living abroad and earring below the IRS salary minimum to do submit taxes. So....in that time, so much has changed with the US, and I am now married and I'm so lost.

 

Here's a little bit of info for anyone that has any guidance...

Arrived back to the US in September 2017 and got married in October 2017 and submitted AOS in November 2017

Started my first job in the US in February 2018 (since leaving the last one in 2009) 

My husband hasn't begun working as his combo card was approved only a few days before his AOS interview in December 2018. 

We have medical coverage through the Marketplace as my job does not provide it to employees.

 

I have my W-2 for 2018 and form 1095-A from Marketplace. Is it recommended to use a tax preparation service for this year (I really don't want to pay anyone) or is Turbo Tax straight forward enough to do it myself? 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

1. Just because you were living outside the USA doesn’t mean you didn’t owe USA taxes. USA citizens and permanent residents must file tax returns regardless of residence.   So you need to clean that up. You can file tax returns for up to three previous tax years.  You probably didn’t owe any USA taxes for years where you were entirely abroad.  Don’t forget your FBAR declarations. 

 

2.  TurboTax is just fine for your 2018 situation and might handle 2016 and 2015 too.  

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You got conflicting statements on everything regarding what must be filed and what is taxable.  VJ can be helpful for getting a visa but go to a qualified tax preparer fir tax questions. 

Edited by bakphx1

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It would seem (like bakphx1) said it's best to consult a tax preparer. There are experienced people here regarding immigration, but for tax questions I think it's best to go to the experts on that topic (rather than immigration).

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