USA Tax Help: Does Taiwanese Wife Need ITIN Number?

Hey guys,

I’m a USA Citizen that got married last year to a Taiwanese Citizen in Taiwan and we have lived in Taiwan for all of the past year (and was planning on filing for the Foreign-Earned-Income-Exclusion credit).

When trying to file my taxes through TurboTax this year, I thought that I could use “Married Filing Separately” but TurboTax is stating that I’ll need to get an ITIN or SSN number for my wife? Since she does not yet have a green card (we haven’t started the application process yet), I assume that this will have to be an ITIN number?

The process to get an ITIN number looked a little involved, so just thought I’d make sure that’s what needs to be done before starting down that road. I assume that she doesn’t have to file a USA tax return as well?

Thanks for any help!

if you file jointly (to get married couple deduction), then need SS# or whatever.
If you want to make it easy, then do not declare her as dependent in 2019.
If she does not have greencard, then can choose to Not declare her as dependent. I do mine through CPA, so I don’t know the process (for above) on TurboTax, etc.

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If Turbotax won’t take NRA as an option under the spouse’s social security #, do it anyway, but file on paper rather than efile.
You are required to file as MFS, not single.

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Yes, she needs an ITIN. I think you can send the return in with her ITIN left blank (although Turbotax probably won’t allow this) if it’s a filing deadline issue. However, you are super early for filing a 2019 return, so you might as well just get the ITIN first. It’s not that hard.

If you choose to file as “married filing separately” and your spouse is not a US person for tax purposes, then she doesn’t have to file another US tax return for herself.


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A tax accountant once told me you could write NRA for non-resident alien in the box, but it won’t work with online forms. You can only do that if you file the printed forms. Otherwise, the ITIN is needed.

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