7. What, When, and Where To File
What return you must file, as well as when and where you file that return, depends on your status at the end of the tax year as a resident or a nonresident alien.
Topics This chapter discusses:
- Forms aliens must file,
- When and where to file,
- Amended returns and claims for refund, and
- Transportation of currency or monetary instruments.
Useful Items You may want to see:
Forms (and Instructions)
- 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,
- 1040A U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- 1040EZ Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents
- 1040NR U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
- 1040NR-EZ U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents
See chapter 12 for information about getting these forms.
Resident aliens should file Form 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040 at the address shown in the instructions for that form. The due date for filing the return and paying any tax due is April 15 of the year following the year for which you are filing a return (but see the TIP, below).
You are allowed an automatic extension to June 15 to file if your main place of business and the home you live in are outside the United States and Puerto Rico on April 15. You can get an extension of time to August 15 to file your return if you get an extension by April 15 (June 15 if you qualify for the June 15 extension). Use Form 4868 to get the extension to August 15.
If the due date for filing falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.
You may be able to file your return electronically. See IRS e-file in your form instructions.
Nonresident aliens who are required to file an income tax return should use Form 1040NR or, if qualified, Form 1040NR-EZ.
If you are any of the following, you must file a return.
- A nonresident alien individual engaged or considered to be engaged in a trade or business in the United States during 2001.
You must file even if:
- Your income did not come from a trade or business conducted in the United States,
- You have no income from U.S. sources, or
- Your income is exempt from income tax.
- A nonresident alien individual not engaged in a trade or business in the United States with U.S. income on which the tax liability was not satisfied by the withholding of tax at the source.
- A representative or agent responsible for filing the return of an individual described in (1) or (2).
- A fiduciary for a nonresident alien estate or trust.
Note. If you were a nonresident alien student or trainee who was temporarily present in the United States under an F, J, M, or Q visa, you are considered engaged in a trade or business in the United States. You must file Form 1040NR (or Form 1040NR-EZ) only if you have income that is subject to tax, such as wages, tips, scholarship and fellowship grants, dividends, etc.
You must also file if you want to:
- Claim a refund of overwithheld or overpaid tax, or
- Claim the benefit of any deductions or credits. For example, if you have no U.S. business activities but have income from real property that you choose to treat as effectively connected income (discussed in chapter 4), you must timely file a true and accurate return to take any allowable deductions against that income. For information on what is timely, see When to file for deductions and credits under When and Where To File, later.
Even if you have left the United States and filed a Form 1040-C, U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return, on departure, you still must file an annual U.S. income tax return. If you are married and both you and your spouse are required to file, you must each file a separate return.
You can use Form 1040NR-EZ if all of the following conditions are met.
- You do not claim any dependents.
- You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return.
- If you were married, you cannot claim an exemption for your spouse.
- Your taxable income is less than $50,000.
- You do not claim any itemized deductions (other than for state and local income taxes).
- You had only wages, salaries, tips, taxable refunds of state and local income taxes, and scholarship or fellowship grants. (If you had taxable interest or dividend income, you cannot use this form.)
- You are not claiming any adjustments to income other than the student loan interest deduction or scholarship and fellowship grants excluded.
- You are not claiming any credits.
- The only taxes you owe are:
- The income tax from the Tax Table.
- The social security and Medicare tax on tip income not reported to your employer.
- The household employment taxes.
If you do not qualify to file Form 1040NR-EZ, you must file Form 1040NR.
When and Where To File
If you are an employee and you receive wages subject to U.S. income tax withholding, you will generally file by the 15th day of the 4th month after your tax year ends. If you file for the 2001 calendar year, your return is due April 15, 2002.
If you are not an employee who receives wages subject to U.S. income tax withholding, you must file by the 15th day of the 6th month after your tax year ends. For the 2001 calendar year, file your return by June 17, 2002, because June 15, 2002, falls on a Saturday.
If you cannot file your return by the due date, file Form 4868 or use one of the electronic filing options explained in the Form 4868 instructions. This will extend the due date to August 15. You must file the extension by the regular due date of your return.
File Form 1040NR-EZ and Form 1040NR at the following address.
Internal Revenue Service Center
Philadelphia, PA 19255
When to file for deductions and credits. To get the benefit of any allowable deductions or credits, you must timely file a true and accurate return. For this purpose, a return is timely if it is filed within 16 months of the due date just discussed. However, if you did not file a 2000 tax return and 2001 is not the first year for which you are required to file one, your 2001 return is timely for this purpose if it is filed by the earlier of:
- The date that is 16 months after the due date for filing your 2001 return, or
- The date the IRS notifies you that your 2001 return has not been filed and that you cannot claim certain deductions and credits.
The allowance of the following credits is not affected by this time requirement.
- Credit for withheld taxes.
- Credit for excise tax on certain uses of gasoline and special fuels.
- Credit for tax paid by a regulated investment company on undistributed capital gains.
Protective return. If your activities in the United States were limited and you do not believe that you had any gross income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business during the year, you can file a protective return (Form 1040NR) by the deadline explained above. By filing a protective return, you protect your right to receive the benefit of deductions and credits in the event it is later determined that some or all of your income is effectively connected. You are not required to report any effectively connected income or any deductions on the protective return, but you must give the reason the return is being filed.
If you believe some of your activities resulted in effectively connected income, file your return reporting that income and related deductions by the regular due date. To protect your right to claim deductions or credits resulting from other activities, attach a statement to that return explaining that you wish to protect your right to claim deductions and credits if it is later determined that the other activities produced effectively connected income.
You can follow the same procedure if you believe you have no U.S. tax liability because of a U.S. tax treaty. Be sure to also complete items L and M on page 5 of Form 1040NR.
Aliens from the Virgin Islands.
If you are a bona fide resident of the Virgin Islands on the last day of your tax year and work temporarily in the United States, you must pay your income taxes to the Virgin Islands and file your income tax returns at the following address.
Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue
9601 Estate Thomas
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
U.S. Virgin Islands 00802
Report all income from U.S. sources, as well as income from other sources, on your return. For information on filing Virgin Islands returns, contact the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Chapter 8 discusses withholding from U.S. wages of Virgin Islanders.
Aliens from Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. If you are a resident of Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) on the last day of your tax year, you must file your return and pay any tax due to Guam or the CNMI. Report all income, including income from U.S. sources, on your return. It is not necessary to file a separate U.S. income tax return.
Guam residents should file their Guam returns at the following address.
Department of Revenue and Taxation
Government of Guam
P.O. Box 23607
GMF, GU 96921
Residents of the CNMI should file their CNMI income tax returns at the following address.
Division of Revenue and Taxation
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
P.O. Box 5234 CHRB
Saipan, MP 96950
If you are a resident of the United States on the last day of your tax year, you should file your return with the Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255. Include with your return any balance of your tax due on income derived from all sources.
Penalties. The law imposes penalties for filing your tax return late or for late payment of any tax due. However, a penalty is not charged if you can show that there was reasonable cause for your filing or paying late.
You may be subject to additional penalties for:
- Not supplying a taxpayer identification number when required,
- Filing a frivolous income tax return, or
- Not including a tax shelter identification number on a return when required.
Amended Returns and Claims for Refund
If you find changes in your income, deductions, or credits after you mail your return, file Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Attach Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ showing the changes to your original return and print Amended across the top. Ordinarily, an amended return claiming a refund must be filed within 3 years from the date your return was filed or within 2 years from the time the tax was paid, whichever is later. A return filed before the final due date is considered to have been filed on the due date.
Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments
Customs Form 4790, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments, must be filed by each person who physically transports, mails, or ships, or causes or attempts to cause to be physically transported, mailed, or shipped, currency or other monetary instruments in a total amount of more than $10,000 at one time from the United States to any place outside the United States, or into the United States from any place outside the United States. The filing requirement also applies to each person who receives in the United States currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 at one time from any place outside of the United States.
The term monetary instruments means the following:
- Coin and currency of the United States or of any other country,
- Travelers' checks in any form,
- Money orders,
- Investment securities in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title to them passes upon delivery,
- Negotiable instruments in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in such form that title to them passes upon delivery, and
- Checks, promissory notes, and money orders which are signed but on which the name of the payee has been omitted.
However, the term does not include:
- Checks or money orders made payable to the order of a named person which have not been endorsed or which contain restrictive endorsements,
- Warehouse receipts, or
- Bills of lading.
A transfer of funds through normal banking procedures (wire transfer) that does not involve the physical transportation of currency or bearer monetary instruments is not required to be reported on Customs Form 4790.
Filing requirements. Customs Form 4790 filing requirements follow.
Recipients. Each person who receives currency or other monetary instruments from a place outside the United States must file Customs Form 4790 within 15 days after receipt, with the Customs officer in charge at any port of entry or departure, or by mail to the following address.
Commissioner of Customs
Attention: Currency Transportation Reports
Washington, DC 20229
Shippers or mailers. If the currency or other monetary instrument does not accompany the person entering or departing the United States, Customs Form 4790 can be filed by mail at the above address on or before the date of entry, departure, mailing, or shipping.
Travelers. Travelers must file Customs Form 4790 with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of entry or departure, when entering or departing the United States.
Penalties. Civil and criminal penalties are provided for failing to file a report, filing a report containing material omissions or misstatements, or filing a false or fraudulent report. Also, the entire amount of the currency or monetary instrument may be subject to seizure and forfeiture.
More information regarding the filing of Customs Form 4790 can be found in the instructions on the back of the form.
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