Hartford, CT: Foreign nationals CAN claim Covid19 stimulus in 2020/ 21

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As a foreign national living in the US, you may have assumed that you won’t get a Covid19 payment from the IRS. Indeed, the CARES Act prohibits “nonresident alien” individuals from the payment. However, the term “nonresident alien” is defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), not by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Under the definition of the IRS, some foreign nationals need to claim their stimulus payment before November 21, 2020 (3pm EST). Those who miss this deadline can claim the payment when they file taxes in 2021 but they must meet some important eligibility criteria before the end of 2020.

Eligible foreign nationals

According to the IRS, Permanent Residents and Qualifying Resident Aliens are eligible for Coronavirus Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) in 2020. This includes eligible foreign nationals who are non-filers. You satisfy IRS test for being a Permanent Resident is you hold an unexpired US Green Card this year, even if you are a Conditional Permanent Resident. On the other hand, you are a Qualified Resident Alien if you meet the requirements of the substantial presence test (SPT)—even if you don’t have a Green Card, or if you qualify to make certain elections that override the green card test and the substantial presence test.

At its simplest, passing the Substantial Presence Test requires you to have spent 183 days in the US during the current year and the past two years. Additionally, you must have spent at least 31 of those 183 days in the US in the current tax year. For this test, your USCIS-issued visa dictates when you can start counting your 183 days. Some visas allow you to pass the SPT in the year you first arrive in the US while other visas prevent you from ever passing the SPT no matter how long you’ve been in the US. Passing the SPT or making the allowable residency elections allows you to file more advantageous taxes like a US citizen. More immediately, it entitles you to a Coronavirus stimulus payment ($1,200 for single people, $2,400 for married couples, and $500 per each eligible child) before the end of the year. The IRS can’t withhold or divert this money from you to pay any back taxes you owe. It is your money to spend or save as you please. If you don’t hold a Green Card, we can help you quickly determine your residency eligibility in time to claim your stimulus payment.

Additional requirements for foreign nationals

You must not be claimed as a dependent on anyone else’s tax return and—to get the full payment—your income can’t exceed $75,000 (single/married filing separately), $150,000 (married filing jointly), or $112,500 (Head of Household). Besides the residency requirements discussed above, you must have a Social Security Number (SSN) that allows you to work in the US. Some Green Card holders retain Social Security Cards that have work restrictions. Typically, this isn’t a problem because you can always prove your work authorization to employers and file taxes like a citizen. Ironically, this year I have worked with several Green Card holders who couldn’t get a payment because their SSNs appear ineligible for US work purposes to the IRS. If this applies to you, change your status with the Social Security Administration immediately and update your card. Otherwise, this issue will needlessly prevent you from getting a covid19 stimulus payment in 2020 or 2021. Conversely, if you didn’t get a stimulus payment despite holding an unrestricted SSN, talk to us as quickly as possible so that we can help you resolve your matter.

Mixed status families

The CARES Act denies a stimulus payment in cases where an eligible individual with a Social Security number filed a 2018 or 2019 joint return with a spouse who has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or filed a return with a qualifying child who has an ITIN. The Act makes an exception for this prohibition if one spouse is a member of the US Armed Forces. This requirement has denied many US citizens, expatriates, and qualifying non-residents of much-needed financial aid. Thankfully, various bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives to correct this discrimination. None of them has passed into law yet. There are also various lawsuits before US courts now challenging this discrimination. Recently, a federal judge ruled against the US Treasury and the IRS allowing US prisoners to receive coronavirus stimulus checks. It is possible that directives from Congress or the courts could resolve this matter before the end of the year.

What you should do

If you are meet the eligibility criteria discussed above, didn’t get a stimulus payment, and didn’t file a 2019 tax return, use the IRS Non-filers tool to enter your information before November 21, 2020 (3pm EST). If you are eligible for a payment but have been unsuccessful with the IRS Non-filers tool or IRS Get My Payment tool (for those who filed 2018 or 2019 taxes), book an appointment here so that we can help you resolve your issue and claim your money quickly. If you are a US visa holder or a US citizen/expatriate with a mixed status householdbook an appointment here to learn how you can maximize your eligibility for Coronavirus stimulus payment from the IRS before 2020 is over.

NB: US Nationals living in the US territories (Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa) who haven’t received a stimulus payment should follow up with their territory tax authority and not with the IRS.

Abraham Kyele King’oo, EA, MBA

Archer Solutions LLC

224 Farmington Avenue, Suite C

EcoSpace Bldg, West Entrance

Hartford, CT 06105

Tel. 860-230-1108




Comments (1)

George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Abraham Kyele Kingoo, EA, MBA interesting.  I would expect that there would not be any doubt about Permanent Resident Aliens qualifying, but I would not have expected it to extend to Non-Resident Aliens, and others without a permanent status.

Nov 19, 2020 04:32 PM