If you are a non-US citizen and non-green card holder earning income in the U.S., then you need to know about the IRS’s Substantial Presence Test (SPT). The results of the SPT will determine your US tax residency, meaning whether you file your taxes as a ‘resident alien’ taxpayer, using standard Form 1040, or a ‘non-resident alien’ taxpayer, using Form 1040NR.
Introduction to the IRS Substantial Presence Test
The test is based on the number of days you were physically present in the U.S. over a three year period. The three year period comprises the year for which we are filing a tax return (e.g. 2018) and the previous two years (e.g. 2016 & 2017). The substantial presence test is a funky two part calculation, where you only meet the test if you have been in the U.S. a minimum amount of days both (1) this year and (2) over the past three years combined.
Information You Will Need to Complete the Test
To calculate the Substantial Presence Test, we need two pieces of information: (1) the days that you were physically in the U.S. and (2) your visa status for those days.
Once you have the total days present in the U.S. for each of the past three years, the simple calculator below should make it easy to determine whether or not you meet the SPT. However, before starting, note that there is an exception for those on exempt visa types. International students on F, J, M, or Q visas, as well as their spouses on F-2 or J-2 visas for example are exempt (you can find the full list of exempt individuals here).
The exception is that some of your days might not need to be counted toward the substantial presence Test, since you’re exempt. Specifically, we exclude the first five years that you are on a student visa (F, J, M or Q visa types).
So when filling out the calculator, don’t include any of those days. Remember though, to have those days excluded, you must file Form 8843.
IRS Substantial Presence Test Calculator
You should now be ready to use our IRS Substantial Presence Test calculator. Enter the correct number of days in the boxes below for each of the relevant three years. The result of the test will appear at the bottom!
*Note: Please do not rely on this calculator alone for determining your tax residency. Seek guidance from a Visor tax advisor before completing your tax filing.
Whether you need to file as a resident or a non-resident, Visor is here to help. We’ve filed more non-US citizen tax returns than just about any other tax service. Don’t go it alone – put a Visor tax advisor on your team!
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