Filing taxes in the US with a foreign spouse

Hi all, I don’t know any other Americans in the same situation I am in, so I thought I’d throw it out there on F.com

I am trying to file US taxes this year, as well as back taxes for the past 7 years. My husband is British and we are living together overseas. When I try and file taxes online, I am unable to complete the procedure without entering a social security number or tax number for him, neither of which he has. I know that he can apply for one or both of these numbers, but as we do not live in the US or plan to ever settle there permanently, it seems unnecessary to rope him into a system that he would rather not be involved in!

Have any of you have had any luck filing as married while living overseas with a foreign spouse, without having a joint return? If you have, how did you do it? How did you file?

Thanks… :notworthy:

[quote=“Indiana”]Hi all, I don’t know any other Americans in the same situation I am in, so I thought I’d throw it out there on F.com

I am trying to file US taxes this year, as well as back taxes for the past 7 years. My husband is British and we are living together overseas. When I try and file taxes online, I am unable to complete the procedure without entering a social security number or tax number for him, neither of which he has. I know that he can apply for one or both of these numbers, but as we do not live in the US or plan to ever settle there permanently, it seems unnecessary to rope him into a system that he would rather not be involved in!

Have any of you have had any luck filing as married while living overseas with a foreign spouse, without having a joint return? If you have, how did you do it? How did you file?

Thanks… :notworthy:[/quote]

Have you tried filling in all zeros for him? Maybe it’s just a matter of satisfying the program’s need for input.

[quote=“housecat”]
Have you tried filling in all zeros for him? Maybe it’s just a matter of satisfying the program’s need for input.[/quote]

No, I haven’t tried that. I should.

There was a Q&A section on the TurboTax site, which is the one I was working with, and it states that I am obligated to give a number for him, so I wonder if the forms would be rejected if I don’t give a ‘real’ number. That would be a nightmare! But I’ll try putting in all zeros if I don’t find any other solution. :sunglasses:

It’s just annoying because he has nothing to do at all with the States, except for the fact that he is married to me. Roping him into the system is something we clearly want to avoid. I could understand if I were unemployed and dependent on him and we were investing heavily in real estate or whatever in the US, but that is not the case. It seems unfair to put him on the radar, if you know what I mean.

[quote=“Indiana”][quote=“housecat”]
Have you tried filling in all zeros for him? Maybe it’s just a matter of satisfying the program’s need for input.[/quote]

No, I haven’t tried that. I should.

There was a Q&A section on the TurboTax site, which is the one I was working with, and it states that I am obligated to give a number for him, so I wonder if the forms would be rejected if I don’t give a ‘real’ number. That would be a nightmare! But I’ll try putting in all zeros if I don’t find any other solution. :sunglasses:

It’s just annoying because he has nothing to do at all with the States, except for the fact that he is married to me. Roping him into the system is something we clearly want to avoid. I could understand if I were unemployed and dependent on him and we were investing heavily in real estate or whatever in the US, but that is not the case. It seems unfair to put him on the radar, if you know what I mean.[/quote]

Filing as married would mean reporting his income and may or may not get you larger tax breaks. I also thought it was silly to have to report my husband’s income as we didn’t live here, he had nothing at all to do with the States, as you state. I just didn’t file from Taiwan, as I didn’t owe anything anway. I’ve filed since I’ve been here, but when I asked, the first year back, about back filing for those years, the guy said that if I said I didn’t owe anything, and couldn’t prove I’d even had income (I could not), and wasn’t expecting anything back, then there really was no point in doing the paperwork. No one’s asked me any questions yet.

[quote=“housecat”][quote=“Indiana”][quote=“housecat”]
Have you tried filling in all zeros for him? Maybe it’s just a matter of satisfying the program’s need for input.[/quote]

No, I haven’t tried that. I should.

There was a Q&A section on the TurboTax site, which is the one I was working with, and it states that I am obligated to give a number for him, so I wonder if the forms would be rejected if I don’t give a ‘real’ number. That would be a nightmare! But I’ll try putting in all zeros if I don’t find any other solution. :sunglasses:

It’s just annoying because he has nothing to do at all with the States, except for the fact that he is married to me. Roping him into the system is something we clearly want to avoid. I could understand if I were unemployed and dependent on him and we were investing heavily in real estate or whatever in the US, but that is not the case. It seems unfair to put him on the radar, if you know what I mean.[/quote]

Filing as married would mean reporting his income and may or may not get you larger tax breaks. I also thought it was silly to have to report my husband’s income as we didn’t live here, he had nothing at all to do with the States, as you state. I just didn’t file from Taiwan, as I didn’t owe anything anway. I’ve filed since I’ve been here, but when I asked, the first year back, about back filing for those years, the guy said that if I said I didn’t owe anything, and couldn’t prove I’d even had income (I could not), and wasn’t expecting anything back, then there really was no point in doing the paperwork. No one’s asked me any questions yet.[/quote]

That’s good to know. We are planning on buying some property in the US next year as an investment, so that’s why I’m getting my butt in gear and trying to file as far back as I need to. I would hate for something silly to happen!! But maybe filing for just the past few years will suffice (the last year I filed was 2000).

I was thrilled to learn that I didn’t need to provide ‘proof’ of overseas income. The thought of trying to get documents from Taiwan, especially now that I don’t even live there anymore, was doing my head in!

I am in a similar situation (my wife has no SSN.) I have always filed as “Head of Household,” which is separate from either “Married” category.

If your spouse is foreign and doesnt have US citizenship or a Green Card he/she does not have to file his/her income with the IRS. So just file for yourself.

If using some of these online programs, that is not an option. If you state that you are married, even if it is to a foreign spouse who does not reside in the US, your spouse needs a number and you have to file jointly.

I talked to a coworker today who is in the same situation, and she told me that she always files as ‘Single’ (unmarried). We were married in the US and I changed my maiden name to his surname, so I would be unable to do this really.

Ugh…I think we’ll just apply for him to get a SSN. I guess it wouldn’t do any harm.

Thanks to everyone who helped me here! :bow:

If using some of these online programs, that is not an option. If you state that you are married, even if it is to a foreign spouse who does not reside in the US, your spouse needs a number and you have to file jointly.

I talked to a coworker today who is in the same situation, and she told me that she always files as ‘Single’ (unmarried). We were married in the US and I changed my maiden name to his surname, so I would be unable to do this really.

Ugh…I think we’ll just apply for him to get a SSN. I guess it wouldn’t do any harm.

Thanks to everyone who helped me here! :bow:[/quote]

I have no idea what sort of mafan it might be in the UAE, but there should be a US representitive office staffed with someone who can help you file. They should have experience dealing with this problem.

[quote=“housecat”]
I have no idea what sort of mafan it might be in the UAE, but there should be a US representitive office staffed with someone who can help you file. They should have experience dealing with this problem.[/quote]

You know, the embassy here doesn’t offer tax guidance like AIT does in Taiwan, which is too bad. I am sure there are tax accountants who will help for a load of dosh though! :laughing: I might just go with the SS# to keep it easy. I guess it can’t hurt.

Thanks, housecat!!!

Indiana, a few things:

  1. Do not enter a bogus SSN for your foreign spouse.
  2. Social Security Numbers aren’t library cards. The US government does not hand them out to foreigners with no immigration status or any intention to become US citizens or residents.
  3. It is possible to file jointly with your husband if he gets an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which are used for tax purposes only and have nothing to do with immigration status. He will need to file an IRS Form W-7, which you will attach to your tax forms.
  4. You will be eligible for the tax advantages associated with filing jointly if your husband gets an ITIN, but keep in mind that getting an ITIN means his income is subject to US taxes. It is probably worth consulting a CPA to analyze your financial situation and determine the best course of action.

[quote=“Gao Bohan”]Indiana, a few things:

  1. Do not enter a bogus SSN for your foreign spouse.
  2. Social Security Numbers aren’t library cards. The US government does not hand them out to foreigners with no immigration status or any intention to become US citizens or residents.
  3. It is possible to file jointly with your husband if he gets an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which are used for tax purposes only and have nothing to do with immigration status. He will need to file our IRS Form W-7, which you will attach to your tax forms.
  4. You will be eligible for the tax advantages associated with filing jointly if your husband gets an ITIN, but keep in mind that getting an ITIN means his income is subject to US taxes. It is probably worth consulting a CPA to analyze your financial situation and determine the best course of action.[/quote]

Thanks, GB! That’s right, the ITIN number is what he needs to get. I think you are exempt for up to $87,000 each, and as we do not own any property and our sole income is our salaries, we shouldn’t owe any taxes.

I think it’s terrible that his income would be subject to US taxes if we crossed the $87,000 barrier. That is really unfair…we don’t live in the US, and he has nothing to do with the country!!! What a scam. :s

Well, I did some digging, and apparently he may actually be eligible for an SSN. According to the IRS:

I guess I should have added…

  1. Don’t listen to people on the internet who don’t know what they’re talking about (like me).

But I do think it’d be worth it to sit down with a good accountant and figure out your options.

[quote=“Gao Bohan”]

But I do think it’d be worth it to sit down with a good accountant and figure out your options.[/quote]

Good suggestion. I think I should be able to find one here in the UAE who has a lot of experience with this sort of thing. I tried last summer when I was home, and found the tax accountants in my area had never dealt with a similar situation.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me out on this! :slight_smile:

If using some of these online programs, that is not an option. If you state that you are married, even if it is to a foreign spouse who does not reside in the US, your spouse needs a number and you have to file jointly.

I talked to a coworker today who is in the same situation, and she told me that she always files as ‘Single’ (unmarried). We were married in the US and I changed my maiden name to his surname, so I would be unable to do this really.

Ugh…I think we’ll just apply for him to get a SSN. I guess it wouldn’t do any harm.

Thanks to everyone who helped me here! :bow:[/quote]

Well, it’s probably too late to help, but you’ve probably learned that you can’t apply for an SSN for your husband. I’ve tried, just so I can open a joint checking account in the US.

You should, however, apply for a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Details at irs.gov