IRS Substantial Presence Test Calculator

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.

Next Steps

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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  1. I read through your blog post here. Could you help me with a question I have please. What happens if you get in trouble with the IRS? I screwed up on my taxes a couple years ago and I guess I owe the IRS a considerable amount of money! Thanks in advance for your answer.

    1. Form 9465 sets up installment plan options if a taxpayer cannot pay the amount of tax owed to the IRS in time. Other option can also be to amend prior year return and check whether tax owed can be reduced by any of findings in your tax situation.

  2. I need to fill out the 8843 form but I don’t know what I should write down for 4.a ? Once I’m an international Student on F visa and all the past year I spent it here ?
    Could any one please inform me what’s 4.a should be ?

    1. Hi Mike, according to the instructions for form 8843: “Generally, you are treated as being present in the United States on any day that you are physically present in the country at any time during the day. However, you don’t count the following days of presence in the United States for purposes of the substantial presence test.” Instructions go on to say that one of the cases where you do not need to count days of presence if you were an exempt individual. Generally, you are considered to be an exempt individual if you hold an F-1 student visa and have been in the U.S. on F-1 visa for less than 5 years. Therefore, it sounds like you do not need to list a number of days on line 4a.

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