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Back-filing Taxes for first time, Need Insight!

taxes backfiling taxes backfile taxes I-864

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#1 Muscley_Love

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 12:05 AM

Alright guys, I have nearly acquired nearly EVERYTHING needed for the final interview in Guangzhou!!   :happydance:    The co-sponsorship i-864 from my relative came in the mail last week (took a month!) along with the photocopies of the last year's most recent tax forms, etc....    

 

The only thing I need to complete now is get my taxes in order.  I need to back-file. 

 

I've been in China for 6 years and never made enough money to merit filing...  I was a student here for 5 years, did some part time jobs (from teaching centers, which sent me pay stubs, and deducted tax) but also I never made more than 50K RMB per year. 

 

Anyway, which forms are relevant to my filing needs?   I need some very generic advice here, and  possibly some additional pointers if you are familiar with those forms and feel like there's possible points of confusion I'd run into... 

 

For those past years I'd need to file single,  and for this past year I'd need to do a married but separate file (since we're married but my wife has a job in China, not america, doesn't even have an SSN?) 


Edited by Muscley_Love, 24 January 2018 - 12:08 AM.


#2 Randy W

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 12:38 AM

Form 1040EZ should be all you need. As long as that shows $0 tax, you don't need to worry about the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.



#3 Muscley_Love

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 12:56 AM

Alrighty.  I just checked and noticed that the current form is available for Year 2017, but you can also access prior years. 

 

Should go through the IRS website and access the forms from prior years?  

 

The address field is for correspondence, so in that case it'd be mailing address that I use here (In Chin-ar) right? 

 

The 1040 EZ has a field for W-2 form information too.  So do you think I have to do that as well? 

 

Also I'm just not sure about some of the fields...  Would software like turbo tax be a better idea for me to use?  It may help explain things better, but I worry it might not be flexible in some areas (like, entering 000000000 for my spouse's social security number since she doesn't have one)



#4 Randy W

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 01:22 AM

Would software like turbo tax be a better idea for me to use?

 

 

Yes - Either NRA (Non-resident alien) or 000000000 is acceptable for SSN.

 

You can use the Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement to report wages



#5 dnoblett

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 09:07 AM

IRS.GOV has prior year forms just need to look a little harder on their website.

https://apps.irs.gov...ublication.html

#6 Randy W

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 11:36 PM

Google "filing Taxes for first time" for all the help you need. If you have SPECIFIC questions, we can help you here.

 

https://www.google.c...chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Between TurboTax and the IRS sites you will find everything for free



#7 HotBaozi

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 07:57 AM

Alright guys, I have nearly acquired nearly EVERYTHING needed for the final interview in Guangzhou!!   :happydance:    The co-sponsorship i-864 from my relative came in the mail last week (took a month!) along with the photocopies of the last year's most recent tax forms, etc....    

 

The only thing I need to complete now is get my taxes in order.  I need to back-file. 

 

I've been in China for 6 years and never made enough money to merit filing...  I was a student here for 5 years, did some part time jobs (from teaching centers, which sent me pay stubs, and deducted tax) but also I never made more than 50K RMB per year. 

 

Anyway, which forms are relevant to my filing needs?   I need some very generic advice here, and  possibly some additional pointers if you are familiar with those forms and feel like there's possible points of confusion I'd run into... 

 

For those past years I'd need to file single,  and for this past year I'd need to do a married but separate file (since we're married but my wife has a job in China, not america, doesn't even have an SSN?) 

 

 

I lived and worked in China for six years, and read a lot of bad advice that filing taxes in the US was not necessary unless income was over like $125,000 a year or some such nonsense. Not true. So, upon returning to the US, I made my way to an HR Block office familiar with filing back taxes for someone who lived and worked overseas. It was quite a pile of paperwork, and when all was done mailed as a package to the IRS. I suppose I paid a couple hundred bucks for the service, which was well worth it to ensure the paperwork was filed correctly. Now, my SSN account shows zero income for all those years worked in China. 



#8 Randy W

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 08:39 AM

The minimum filing requirements FOR THE IRS are worth revisiting. They are based on your GROSS INCOME

 

See Publication 501. https://www.irs.gov/...blink1000270109

 

Gross income means all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it).

 

 

INCLUDING any income you "EXCLUDE" with the Form 2555 Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.The Form 2555 Foreign Earned Income Exclusion does NOT "exclude" anything - you REPORT your income AND pay taxes on it, as calculated through the Form 1040 Foreign Earned Income Tax Worksheet.

 

For 2017, those filing minimums are $10,400 for single taxpayers and $20,800 for married, filing jointly. If you earned this amount or more, even through foreign "excludable" earnings, you ARE required to file by the IRS.

 

And, as we all know, any Guangzhou Visa Officer can require a tax return for any year whatsoever.

 

Fees and penalties for late filing, however, are based on the amount of tax actually owed, which CAN  be $0 up to the amount covered by the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.


Edited by Randy W, 25 January 2018 - 08:58 AM.


#9 Muscley_Love

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 09:24 AM

 

Would software like turbo tax be a better idea for me to use?

 

 

Yes - Either NRA (Non-resident alien) or 000000000 is acceptable for SSN.

 

You can use the Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement to report wages

 

Alrighty, so I'm going to bounce back to a question I posed earlier in that case.

 

What is the best way to do taxes as a young person living in China, whose spouse doesn't have an SSN and has never filed US taxes (like, obviously!)  I want to do the quickest thing possible here so I can set up an interview date with no worries weighing down on me. This forum says that all we need is proof that we filed for the interview, but what is that "proof" that we filed?  is that a printout from tax software, that says we e-filed?

 

(If so, then that means i should go the software route, instead of mailing the forms in and waiting, right?) 

 

Another question is that I was going through  the Turbo Tax free option online (I found out I don't qualify for free, i gotta purchase deluxe according to my situtation, the website now tells me...)  - but when I was using it, the software seemed sort of inflexible.  They need an SSN from my spouse, and info on how she filed her tax forms as well.  Well, I got past the SSN part. (left it blank for the time being) also I chose to file as "married, filing separately" in order to skip past the requirement of having to provide her SSN that she obviously doesn't have at the time being.  

 

I'm in a tangle of questions here I feel like. 



#10 dnoblett

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 09:30 AM

Simply doing the 1040-EZ for past years, mailing them off to the IRS and attaching copies of the returns to your I-864 that you will provide at the interview is proof enough, signing the I-864 form is swearing under penalty of perjury that the attached copies of your tax returns are the truth.



#11 Randy W

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 09:43 AM

Electronic filing places restrictions on you as to what it will accept - there is an underlying IRS Electronic Free-File which they use so all are the same.

 

You can always simply print out the forms, and file paper returns.

 

You are NOT required to prove that you filed - please let me know where you read that so I can correct it. Any tax problems you have are between you and the IRS - NOT the Consulate, although problems with the IRS can CAUSE trouble with your visa application.

 

The Consulate is interested in your INCOME - NOT your tax situation. The tax return  simply provides a uniform and universal method of reporting that income. And, again - yes you COULD be in trouble if you have failed to file when required to do so, AND if you owe money.

 

What IS required is copies of your tax return, or tax transcripts - OR -  an explanation of why you were not required to file - such as an income below the filing limit.

 

Fill out, and COPY your tax return TODAY - you're done. DO NOT WAIT for any sort of "proof" - you are unlikely to get any. Transcripts are unlikely to be available in any reasonable time frame.


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#12 HotBaozi

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 09:17 AM

If you earned an income in China, then you also need to complete and file Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion for each year you earned. Then, attach to form 1040-EZ. You can estimate your earnings. 


Edited by HotBaozi, 27 January 2018 - 09:19 AM.


#13 Randy W

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 12:07 PM

If you earned an income in China, then you also need to complete and file Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion for each year you earned. Then, attach to form 1040-EZ. You can estimate your earnings. 

 

 

See the Form 255EZ Instructions ("Attach Form 2555-EZ to Form 1040 when filed") - The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion is only available when filing a Form 1040 - but it is not necessary if his taxes are $0 WITHOUT the "Exclusion".

 

The Form 2555 or 255EZ are OPTIONAL, but yes, CAN be used to report income. When doing so, use the Foreign Earned Income Tax Worksheet in the 1040 Instructions to figure your tax.

 



#14 Randy W

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 01:07 PM

I filed a Form 2555EZ showing $0 foreign earned income. I did so to have my foreign address on file for the 1st year of Obamacare.

 

It was rejected because of the $0 foreign earned income, although the rest of the return was accepted.

 

I expect that if you file a Form 2555EZ with a 1040EZ, it (the 2555EZ) will likewise be rejected. Your tax return (and the tax transcript, if you order one) will then show $0, unless you are also reporting other income.

 

Something I'm sure you'll get away with, even if audited.


Edited by Randy W, 28 January 2018 - 05:05 AM.


#15 Randy W

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 08:21 AM

I'll add here that if NOT using the 2555 Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, the Foreign Earned Income should be reported as regular income.





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