What is a Non-Resident Tax Return?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2020
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A non-resident tax return is a tax declaration filed by a person who is not a resident of a given state, province, territory, or country, but who is subject to tax law in that region because of the nature of business activities. Some examples include people working, going to school, or consulting in places other than their homes, as well as people with profits from selling real estate, gambling, and other activities. Effectively, if a person earns more than the personal exemption in a given region, that person must file a non-resident tax return, even if no taxes are due.

Sometimes, people need to use a special form to file a non-resident tax return, while in other cases, it may be permissible to use a standard tax form. People who are not sure about which to use should ask an accountant or a representative of the government's tax agency. The form includes a detailed declaration of income, along with any exemptions, credits, and deductions the person wishes to claim. At the end, the person determines the tax or refund due, and notes it down.


The non-resident tax return provides a way for people to document income and taxes paid, and this can become important for avoiding double taxation and penalties. A person from the United States working in Turkey, for example, needs to file a non-resident tax return in Turkey, and should furnish the Internal Revenue Service with the information from that return to reduce income tax liability, as the IRS assesses taxes on all income earned by US citizens, at home or abroad. If the taxpayer shows that she already paid taxes in Turkey, this will be taken into account when calculating tax liability in the United States.

On the non-resident tax return, people should follow the directions closely to make sure they declare income properly and claim all eligible deductions and credits. For people not earning very much money, the form may be an opportunity to claim a tax refund, in cases where taxes were overpaid over the course of the year. It will also help people avoid tax penalties, as tax authorities may fine people for failing to complete tax returns in time.

People working and going to school overseas can often receive assistance with their taxes. Some companies and schools provide tax preparation benefits, allowing their personnel to turn their financial information over to an accountant to have their taxes done for them. Others may provide tax consulting services to help people with taxes, or referrals to accountants who regularly work with their personnel and are familiar with the relevant tax topics.



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