Tax Resources for Foreign Nationals

Resident aliens of the U.S. take their oath of citizenship during a 2006 naturalization ceremony.
Resident aliens of the U.S. take their oath of citizenship during a 2006 naturalization ceremony.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

If you are a foreign national working in the U.S., you'll have to pay U.S. income tax on your earnings. Tax laws can be complex, and the way tax laws are applied to foreign nationals is no exception. We can help. The key to sorting out income taxes if you're a foreign national is determining your status as an alien and then figuring out which tax laws apply to you. We'll break down this process into steps to make it easier to understand.

The specifics of how you'll be taxed vary based on what country you're from, who you work for or what type of student you are. It would be impossible for any single article to cover every possible situation, so before you file your taxes, check with your employer or school -- they likely have staff available who are used to dealing with these types of issues. No matter who (or what) you consult, make sure they specifically have experience and knowledge in dealing with tax laws for foreign nationals.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies alien workers as resident or nonresident aliens or dual-status aliens. It's important to understand that your tax status does not depend on your immigration status. In other words, the IRS has its own rules for deciding if you're a resident, and you might be taxed as a resident by the IRS while you technically remain a nonimmigrant alien with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

From here, we'll dive right into the details of your tax status, learn how to figure out your taxes if you're both a resident and nonresident alien in the same year, determine what types of income is taxable and see what kinds of deductions you can make. The good news is, there's a chance that properly filing your tax return as a foreign national will actually save you money.