Tax Filing Requirements for Green Card Holders

As a Green Card holder, you are considered a lawful, permanent U.S. resident, and this status comes with tax obligations. In this guide, we will discuss all the aspects of tax filing for Green Card holders, including how to file your taxes, the forms you’ll need to fill, what income should be reported, and whether you’ll enjoy the tax deductions and credits available to U.S. citizens. 

Do I Need to File Taxes in the United States as a Green Card Holder?

Yes. Having a Green Card means you’re a lawful permanent resident of the United States, which comes with certain tax obligations. You’re required to file a U.S. income tax return and report any worldwide income to the U.S. IRS. Generally, the U.S. tax system operates on a worldwide income basis for citizens and residents, meaning that the income you earn anywhere in the world is subject to U.S. taxation. Therefore, as a Green Card holder, you must report all income you’ve earned during the year, both within and outside of the United States.

When Do Green Card Holders Have to File Their Taxes?

Green Card holder tax filing deadline is the same as for U.S. citizens – on April 15 of the year following the eligible tax year. For example, for income earned in the year 2023, the tax return would be due by April 15, 2024. Note that if April 15 falls on a weekend or a holiday, the deadline may be extended to the next business day. Always check the exact filing date each year on the IRS website. 

If you are a Green Card holder and you live overseas, the IRS automatically grants you a two-month extension to file your return without requesting an extension. The automatic two-month extension is to June 15.

How Do I File My Taxes as a Green Card Holder?

For a Green Card holder, filing your taxes is similar to how a U.S. citizen would file their taxes – by mail or electronically. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Determine your filing status: Your filing status is either single, married, head of household, or surviving qualified spouse.
  2. Collect your tax documents: Gather all necessary income-related documents, such as W-2s, 1099s, and financial and transaction records. Remember to also include documentation of your foreign income.
  3. Choose the correct tax form: Apart from filing Form 1040, depending on your circumstances you might need to file additional forms or schedules, such as Form 1116 and Form 2555 if you have foreign sources of income.
  4. Claim deductions and credits, and calculate your tax: Once you have all the necessary tax forms, compute the amount of tax you’re obligated to pay for the year. Remember to deduct all the applicable deductions and tax credits that you’re eligible for, then proceed to file your returns.

It’s worth noting that the tax situation is different for everyone. Consult tax professionals for tailored solutions.

What Forms Do I Need to File as a Green Card Holder?

As a Green Card holder, here are some of the forms you might need to file depending on your sources of income and filing status: 

  1. Form 1040: This is the standard U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form used by individual taxpayers to file income taxes.
  2. Schedule A (Form 1040): You’ll have to file this along with your tax returns if you choose to itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction.
  3. Schedule B (Form 1040): You’ll need to fill out Schedule B if you have more than $1,500 of taxable interest or dividends.
  4. Schedule C (Form 1040): If you are self-employed, you will need to include Schedule C to report income or loss from your business.
  5. Schedule D (Form 1040): Include Schedule D when filing your tax returns if you have capital gains or losses.
  6. Form 1116: For Green Card holders who have paid foreign taxes and want to claim the foreign tax credit, you’ll need to include Form 1116.
  7. Form 2555: If you have earned foreign earned income, and are eligible to exclude some of it from your U.S. income, you’ll have to fill out Form 2555.
  8. Form 8938: Fill out Form 8938 if you have foreign financial assets that exceed the specified thresholds by the IRS.
  9. FBAR (FinCEN Form 114): File Form 114 separately from your tax returns if you have foreign bank accounts that exceed $10,000 at any time during the year.

Do I Need to File a Separate Tax Return If My Spouse Is Not a Green Card Holder?

If you are a Green Card holder and your spouse is not, you have three options when filing your income tax:

  1. Married Filing Jointly: You can use the Married Filing Jointly status which allows you to treat your spouse as a resident alien for tax purposes and file a joint return. In this case, you’ll both report your combined worldwide income taking advantage of filing jointly. Note that this means your spouse will also be subject to U.S. tax on their worldwide income.
  2. Married Filing Separately: With this status, you’re allowed to file your tax returns separately from your spouse. Note that your spouse, if they have U.S.-sourced income, may need to file a separate return as a non-resident alien.
  3. Head of Household: You are eligible to use this status if you have a dependent and your non-resident alien spouse doesn’t have any U.S.-sourced income.

What Happens If I Don’t File My Taxes as a Green Card Holder?

Failing to file your taxes as a Green Card holder can have serious consequences. Here’s what will happen if you don’t file your taxes:

  1. Penalties and interest: The IRS will impose penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes if you fail to file in time. The imposed failure-to-file penalty is about 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month when you file late.
  2. Loss of immigration benefits: Consistent failure to file your taxes may be seen as a failure to comply with U.S. law, which may impact your future bid to become a naturalized citizen.
  3. Deportation: Although rare, there have been cases where Green Card holders have been deported for not filing their taxes. That’s usually in instances where tax fraud or evasion are in play.
  4. Difficulty renewing your Green Card: When you apply to renew your Green Card or to become a U.S. citizen, you may be asked to provide proof that you’ve complied with U.S. tax laws.

Note that even if you don’t owe any taxes, it’s advisable to still file a return. It’s important to show the IRS that you don’t owe anything, and you achieve this by filing a return.

What Are the Tax Implications of Abandoning My Green Card?

If you choose to abandon your Green Card, or lawful permanent resident status in the United States, there are significant tax implications to consider:

  1. Exit tax: If you’ve been a long-term resident, you might be subject to an exit tax under 877A of the U.S. code. But this only applies if you meet the specified thresholds related to your net worth or average income tax liability.
  2. Filing Form 8854: You need to file Form 8854 – the Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement – with the IRS. This is to determine if you are a covered expatriate subject to the Exit Tax.
  3. Worldwide income: You’ll still be obligated to report your global income to the IRS until such a time as when your Green Card has been properly abandoned.
  4. Substantial Presence Test: You will be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes if you spend significant time in the U.S., even after abandoning your Green Card. If you meet the substantial presence test, you will be subject to U.S. tax on your worldwide income again.
  5. Whether you’re voluntarily or involuntarily abandoning your Green Card, always consult an immigration lawyer or tax professionals to fully guide you through the tax implications of abandoning your Green Card.

Where Can I Find Resources to Help Me File My Taxes as a Green Card Holder?

There are several resources available to help Green Card holders file their taxes:

  1. IRS publications: The IRS website has every guide, forms, and instructions on all aspects of tax filing to help you file your taxes. For example, IRS Publication 519, “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens,” is a helpful resource for Green Card holders.
  2. Tax preparation software: Most tax software will guide you step by step on the entire tax filing process and advise you on what documents you need to accurately file your taxes. 
  3. Tax professionals: Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents (EAs) specialize in tax planning and are equipped to offer personalized advice depending on your tax situation.
  4. Community tax centers: Some communities – often staffed by volunteers – offer free tax help, especially during tax season.

What Income Do I Need to Report on My U.S. Tax Return as a Green Card Holder?

As a Green Card holder, you must report all income you earn from both within and outside the United States on your U.S. tax return. Here are the types of income you’ll be required to report:

  1. Employment income using Form W-2 from your employer. This income includes wages, salaries, tips, bonuses, commissions, and other compensation for services.
  2. Self-employment income is usually your total business income minus your business expenses.
  3. Retirement income using Form 1099-R if you receive distributions from a pension, annuity, retirement or profit-sharing plan, IRA, or any other retirement arrangement.
  4. Social Security if you receive Social Security benefits.
  5. Foreign income if you have income from sources outside the United States including foreign wages, interest, dividends, or any other types of income.
  6. Investment income using forms 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, or 1099-B depending on the investment income. This includes interest, dividends, and capital gains from the sale of investments.
  7. Rental income if you rent out your property. Remember to deduct expenses and applicable credit.

How Do Tax Treaties Affect My Tax Filing as a Green Card Holder?

The United States has tax treaties with some countries which impacts taxation for Green Card holders. Here’s how tax treaties may affect your tax filing:

  1. Double taxation relief: Many tax treaties provide relief from double taxation, meaning you won’t have to pay tax on the same income in both countries.
  2. Residency tiebreaker rules: Based on a few factors, some tax treaties have tiebreaker rules to determine which country you are a resident of for tax purposes. 
  3. Lower withholding rates: Tax treaties can reduce the rate of withholding tax on income such as dividends, interest, and royalties paid by a resident of one country to a resident of the other country.
  4. Exemptions and reduced rates: Some tax treaties provide exemptions or reduced rates for certain types of income.
  5. Non-discriminatory taxation: Most tax treaties contain a non-discrimination clause which prevents a country from taxing non-residents more heavily than its residents or from providing different tax benefits to residents and non-residents.

What Are the Tax Implications of Dual Citizenship and a Green Card?

Here are the tax implications of holding dual citizenship and a Green Card:

  1. Taxation worldwide income: You’ll be taxed on the income you earn globally, regardless of where you live.
  2. Subject to exit tax in the event you decide to abandon your green card and you meet the specified criteria.
  3. Subject to estate and gift tax: As a Green Card holder, you are subject to U.S. estate and gift tax rules.
  4. Bound by U.S. tax treaties: Since the United States has tax treaties with many countries, it impacts international tax on your income. The treaties may provide for reduced rates of tax or exemption from tax on certain types of income, and foreign tax credits to eligible Green Card holders.
  5. Declaring foreign bank and financial accounts: If at any point your foreign financial accounts exceed $10,000, you’re obligated to report to the U.S. Treasury Department.


Do I Need to File State Taxes as a Green Card Holder?

Although Green Card holders are subject to the same federal tax laws as U.S. citizens, state tax laws vary from state to state. Whether you file state taxes will depend on your residency and the source of income. Note that some states don’t levy state income tax, and others have reciprocal agreements with other states, which can affect if and where you need to file a state tax return.

Am I eligible for the same tax deductions and credits as U.S. citizens?

Yes, as a Green Card holder, you are guaranteed the same tax deductions and credits as U.S. citizens.

Do I need to report worldwide income as a Green Card holder?

Yes, as a Green Card holder, you are considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes and are obligated to report your worldwide income to the IRS.

When should I consider seeking professional help with filing my taxes as a Green Card holder?

You should consider seeking professional help if your tax situation is complex, such as if you have income from foreign sources, you are subject to tax in a foreign country, or you have difficulty understanding U.S. tax laws.

Is the tax filing deadline different for Green Card holders?

Yes, the tax filing deadline for Green Card holders is the same as for U.S. citizens – on April 15 of the year following the eligible tax year. However, if you are a Green Card holder and you live overseas, the IRS automatically grants you a two-month extension to file your return without requesting an extension.


As a Green Card holder, you are subject to the same tax laws as U.S. citizens, and that obligates you to report all your worldwide income. You are also eligible for the same deductions and credits as U.S. citizens. And we’ve covered the nuances of the tax filing requirements for Green Card holders.

However, given the U.S. tax treaties, the tax situation may be different for every Green Card holder. That’s why you should consult tax professionals for filing solutions tailored to your specific tax situation.

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Manay CPA is a reputable, full-service CPA firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 2001, we provide comprehensive accounting and tax solutions to individuals and businesses across all 50 states.

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