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Dogberry

Question for USA Expats concerning Marriage, Taxes and the SSA

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Hoping someone has tread these waters and can offer advise.

 

A little background. I’m married, been here 6 years and 100% committed to staying.

 

About 4 years ago I did take the step of reporting my overseas address to SSA so I get the annual “are you alive?” letter. I have not reported my marriage to the SSA. Nor have I changed my tax status with the IRS (Single).

 

So, I’m thinking, heck, if If the tax law says I get a tax break for being married then why not.

 

I have the form from the IRS to get my spouse a tax ID. I’d use that when filing (Married, filing jointly), declaring her income as $0 (homemaker).

 

I have the SSA form to report marriage. I need to get some clarification on that form as it asks for her SSA and of course she hasn’t one.

 

All this to save a few bucks a year. Or even just to be a good citizen and report lawful marriage, as required by two federal agencies.

 

There’s a bunch of questions unasked here and maybe best not to. 

 

If anyone that can offer up some insight please chime in. Or if you can direct me to a thread about this.... info is so scattered it's difficult to find exactly what I'm looking for. PM’s welcome.

 

Best Regards to my fellow expats and thanks in advance.

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Can not answer what is required by SSA as do not receive - my pension is from OPM.  But for that required certified copy of Thai marriage registration (MFA stamp on copy).  And this was for survivor benefits which do not believe is available with SSA without living in US for certain amount of time.  So may not be any need to file.  SSA is controlled by Manila office so a phone call to them should get an answer (as they handle all the time).  File the application for ITIN and what they require and on your joint 1040 just include any bank account interest in her name (as it will be subject to tax) even if she has no other income.  

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I am a federal annuitant as well. I got my appointment between the end of CSRS and beginning of FERS so as and OFF-SET I get both. Anyway, dis-regarding SSA for the moment except to say she will never qualify for survivor benefits so that's moot. So, in your case you file jointly, use an ITIN for her, and report any income including wages and Interest? And have no issues or ramifications from doing that?  

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7 minutes ago, Dogberry said:

So, in your case you file jointly, use an ITIN for her, and report any income including wages and Interest?

Your wife is not liable for US taxes since she is not a resident or citizen of the US.

.

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Yes file joint with her interest included (which is a lot less than the savings of joint filing).  Have not had any issues.  File using the Thai mailing address and have used on-line TaxAct system for last decade.  Suspect you have to mail to get ITIN however - when we got was on a visit to USA as could obtain any time.

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Just now, ubonjoe said:

Your wife is not liable for US taxes since she is not a resident or citizen of the US.

.

Yes she is if she signs a paper saying she agrees to US tax - which then allow joint filing.  This is a savings for those whose wife does not work as allows the marriage deductions.

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5 minutes ago, ubonjoe said:

Your wife is not liable for US taxes since she is not a resident or citizen of the US.

.

Ok. But then how do (or can I) file with the IRS as "Married filing jointly" Is not a ITIN required to so?

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5 minutes ago, lopburi3 said:

Yes she is if she signs a paper saying she agrees to US tax - which then allow joint filing.  This is a savings for those whose wife does not work as allows the marriage deductions.

Thank you so much. Yes she needs to sign that form and whether she's liable to report to the IRS in perpetuity is moot as after I'm gone she'll just ignore them. And yeah she has no income. I imagined this would be as simple as it seems to, but didn't want to get caught out in something I wasn't aware of.

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I think that this is a Catch 22 situation;  you have to have a TIN to file jointly but you have to file in order to obtain a TIN,  if I read the TIN request form correctly

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29 minutes ago, lopburi3 said:

Suspect you have to mail to get ITIN

Yeah I'll need to use the mail... debating if the hassle of getting a certified copy of her passport from the US Consulate is an advantage over just sending her original passport with the application. They claim the'll return it post haste or they'll even use a pre-paid return envelope if you include one (UPS, FedEX etc.) haven't check FedEx costs yet but the consulate is $50 bucks on top of mailing fees.

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18 minutes ago, ubonjoe said:

A ITIN need to claim her on your US taxes. But I am not sure you can file jointly since she is not a US resident or citizen. 

I think you will have to file as head of household and claim her as non resident alien. 

Joint filing is legal with ITIN without residence once said paper is signed as long as officially married.  You are husband and wife regardless of where you live.  Done all the time by expats with non-working wives.  

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1 minute ago, Dogberry said:

Yeah I'll need to use the mail... debating if the hassle of getting a certified copy of her passport from the US Consulate is an advantage over just sending her original passport with the application. They claim the'll return it post haste or they'll even use a pre-paid return envelope if you include one (UPS, FedEX etc.) haven't check FedEx costs yet but the consulate is $50 bucks on top of mailing fees.

I had to re-register ITIN last year and I just sent passport and it was returned OK.  Actually wife had to obtain passport for this purpose as last one expired and we no longer travel.

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8 minutes ago, Langsuan Man said:

I think that this is a Catch 22 situation;  you have to have a TIN to file jointly but you have to file in order to obtain a TIN,  if I read the TIN request form correctly

No Catch 22 - you just include the ITIN application along with tax return.

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Just now, lopburi3 said:

No Catch 22 - you just include the ITIN application along with tax return.

Well then does the IRS fill in the new ITN on the submitted return ?

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