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Frequently Ask Questions

Filing Status and Dependents

I am a U.S. taxpayer residing abroad and I have a child who was born abroad. Can I claim my child as a dependent on my tax return?

In general, you can claim exemptions for individuals who qualify as your dependents. To be your dependent, the individual must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the calendar year in which your tax year begins.

Children usually are citizens or residents of the same country as their parents. If you were a U.S. citizen when your child was born, your child generally is a U.S. citizen. This is true even if the child’s other parent is a nonresident alien, the child was born in a foreign country, and the child lives abroad with the other parent.

You must include on your return the social security number (SSN) of each dependent for whom you claim an exemption. If your dependent is a nonresident alien who is not eligible to get a social security number, you must list the dependent’s individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) instead of an SSN.


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I am a U.S. citizen married to a nonresident alien. What is my filing status and can I claim an exemption for my foreign spouse?

In general, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien married to a nonresident alien, you are considered “Married Filing Separately” unless you qualify for a different filing status. If you pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying child or other relative, you may qualify for the head of household filing status.

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien married to a nonresident alien, you and your spouse can choose to have your spouse treated as a U.S. resident for all U.S. federal income tax purposes. This allows you and your spouse to file a joint return but also subjects your nonresident alien spouse’s worldwide income to U.S. income tax.

If you file a joint return, you can claim an exemption for your nonresident alien spouse. If you do not file a joint return, you can claim an exemption for your nonresident alien spouse only if your spouse has no income from sources within the United States and is not the dependent of another U.S. taxpayer.


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