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filing a return for a US citizen that lives in France and does not work

Level 1

US citizen is married to a French citizen - they live in France.

Is is necessary to file a tax return every year for her, because she is a US citizen, and how would she be classifed. MFJ or MFS

Her and her husband lived in the US for 5 years, before going back to France,  3 years ago, so he had a green card and soc. sec. number during that time.

She has a stock portfolio in US which generates $200 of income, and she may sell some stock periodically. 

If she is required to file a yearly return, does she even have to concern herself with her husband's worldwide income.

In 2019, she had dividends, and they both cashed in some of their IRA funds being held at Etrade., which generated some tax due. Should they file a joint return, and if so, does he have to claim his world wide income on that return, or just the IRA distributions?

Thank you for any thoughts on this  matter.



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5 Replies 5
Level 15

Both of them will be required to file a federal return if they meet the threshold for gross income depending on their ages and marital status like anyone else.  In addition, they may have an on-going filing requirement for state, depending on the state's rules for statutory and domicile residents.

You will also need to consider which country will have the first right to tax the different types of income and the extent to which taxes may be assessed by the country of source and resident under the relevant treaty articles based on various factors.

The husband may possibly claim to be a nonresident based on the DTA with France but that could have ramifications on his green card status and trigger expatriation.

Before they participate in any foreign pension plans, invest in foreign securities (such as ETF, mutual funds, REIT, RIC, etc.), or start any business overseas, they should carefully consider the potential US tax implications and compliance requirements.  Unbeknownst to many who move overseas, thinking these are just part and parcel of global relocation that takes place everyday in this modern age, there are serious tax consequences that need to be contemplated and mitigated in advance.

Still an AllStar
Level 1

thanks.   I will file a joint return for them for 2019, because they have taxable income from the US

however, I think I will discontinue filing for the US citizen if her income falls below the reporting threshold.  My question is, however, should it be MFJ or MFS?


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Level 15

Client's choice. In case you are missing Jensen and Bob's point, the greencard holder spouse has to file a US income tax return, too, generally reporting his worldwide income.

Level 15

You're not filing a 2019 return because they have income from the US. You're filing it because they have income.

Level 12

Green cards and SSN's are not something that you just turn on and off depending on where you wake up January 1.  You need to refer both of them to specialists in international tax, and immigration law.  

And then there might be community-property issues -- after all, most of our states inherited those rules from the Napoleonic Code.  Nowadays France seems to have choices concerning the "matrimonial regime," which is an interesting way to describe financial aspects of a marriage.