Family & Dependents: TQ Questions Explained

Topics covered:

Your spouse's Social Security Number or ITIN

If your spouse does not have a Social Security number - please enter 000-00-0000.

If your spouse is not a U.S. citizen or green card holder, they are not required to report their income.  This means you would file as   Married Filing Separately. There are, however, advantages for filing jointly - we would be able to advise on this after we receive your TQ and determine which method of filing would be in your interest. Please see for more details here.

However, if they have SS# or ITIN - please provide it anyway. This will enable e-filing of your individual tax return and/or taking a personal exemption for your spouse (reducing your own taxable income).

If you wish to add your NRA (non-resident alien) spouse to your return, this can be done by filing for an ITIN (Form W-7 - we can file this for you for $150 in conjunction with your return). This will allow you to e-file in the future, and allow you to file jointly with your NRA spouse.

To summarize - if your spouse   is not a US citizen or green card holder - you may elect not to report their income (hence if they have no SS# please enter 000-00-0000 for it). However, IRS still requires you to report your marital status and basic details about your spouse if you are married.

Do you have Dependent Children or Other Family members?

Please   do not list the children if

  • The child was already claimed by someone else on their US tax return
  • The child filed own return and took a personal exemption

This will cause your return to be rejected.

Your children may be claimed by yourself or your spouse on the foreign tax returns - you can not claim them only if they're claimed on a   US tax return by someone else.

Please list your children names and date of birth even if they are not U.S. citizens. 

Your tax position can be improved if you have dependent children - even if they are not U.S. citizens.

The child can only be claimed if they were born up to Dec-31st of the filing year. 

I.e. if your child was born during 2014, you can not claim them on any return before 2014.

To be a taxpayer’s qualifying child, the child must satisfy four tests:

  • Relationship — the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of one of these.
  • Residence — has the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than half the tax year. Exceptions apply, in certain cases, for children of divorced or separated parents, kidnapped children, temporary absences, and for children who were born or died during the year.  (Please note - if the child is in college, this qualifies, as well)
  • Age — must be under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least five months of the year, or be permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year.
  • Support — did not provide more than one-half of his/her own support for the year.

If a dependent files their own return while taking personal exemption or is claimed by another individual - your return will be rejected. 

This is   VERY IMPORTANT - TFX will not be responsible for the delay in processing this might cause.

If your children do not have SS# - unfortunately, they will not be counted as dependents.

 However - you should still tell us about them as your filing status may be reported as Head of Household, which will improve your tax position and lower tax rate.

If your child is old enough and has already filed their tax return, please ask for the copy of your their return and see if they took a personal exemption (line 6d of form 1040 or line 5 of form 1040-EZ)

1) If the personal exemption was not taken then you can claim her as a dependent and claim certain benefits, such as education credit.

2) If the personal exemption was taken then you cannot list her as a dependent on your tax return.

3) If your personal tax position suffers from losing the dependent, ask your child to file an amended return to revoke the personal exemption. Then you are back to option 1) and can claim the child as a dependent. It is recommended to attach a copy of the amended child return to your personal return to facilitate acceptance of their dependent status on your tax return.

If you are married to a non-resident spouse and have a dependent child you have the option to be considered unmarried for the purpose of the U.S. tax return.

You can use the filing status Head of Household and claim your children on the U.S. tax return.  This is generally more beneficial than filing MFS (married filing separately).

Thus it would not matter whether your non-American spouse claims your children as dependents on his/her local (for example German) tax return.

Spouse's accounts

  • If you have signatory authority over your spouse's accounts, you have to count their full balance (regardless of what the actual ownership between you and your spouse is).
  • If two spouses (regardless of whether they are filing jointly or separately) each have separate bank accounts of less than $10,000 each (for example $8,000) - they don't have to file FBAR.
  • If two spouses have two joint accounts of $6,000 - they do both have to file FBAR (as each is considered to have $12,000).
  • If one spouse is American and is a co-signer of an account of their spouse (who's not American) and the value of that account is over $10,000 - it must be reported on FBAR.

Are you filing jointly with your spouse?

If you are sure that you would like to file together with your spouse - select Yes.

Otherwise, if you are not sure - please select  Not Sure. We will analyze your situation and explain which method of filing (separate of joint) is more beneficial to you.

The decision will be ultimately yours to make, but we will let you know which is better for you. For background details on what type of factors we analyze, please see this article.

Child benefits of any kind

This question asks for any kind of child benefits. If this is already included in the gross income you reported then no need to separate and provide it separately here.

There are non-taxable child benefits paid for children with special needs or to single mothers. You can indicate the type of benefits in the CPA comment box by clicking the pencil icon.

If you have dependents - who will claim the dependents?

Is there anyone who plans to claim your dependents (i.e. children, etc.) on their U.S. tax return? If no, please indicate here that you will claim your dependents.

Were you officially married as of Dec-31-20xx?

The IRS requires details about your marital status and basic details about your spouse (regardless of their citizenship).

  • You are considered legally married by the U.S. government regardless of where the marriage was registered. 
  • Same-sex marriages are considered the same as heterosexual marriages (as long as it was defined as marriage at the time of registration). I.e. if you are in a same-sex marriage, you must report being married.
  • Please note - the IRS does not recognize civil unions or civil partnerships. Your union must be a marriage (or equivalent foreign word) in order to be recognized by the IRS.
  • If your spouse died during the filing year, please answer the question as YES.  You can still file a joint return. Please provide the date of death in the comment. If the spouse died before this year and you have not remarried, you should mark yourself single.

If you were   legally separated then you are considered unmarried for this question.

Legal separation must be ruled by the court order like a divorce. 

In most aspects, it's similar to divorce (separation of property, separation of child custody).

The main difference: under a legal separation, the surviving spouse retains the right to survival benefits from the separated spouse. Divorced spouse loses the right for survival benefits.

Likewise - if you were divorced   outside of the US, you do not have to notify the American authorities about your divorce. Being divorced by the local country court of law is sufficient.

Also note:

  1. If your spouse is not a US citizen or green card holder - you may elect not to report their income. However, IRS still requires your marital status and basic details about your spouse.
  2. For past year returns - if you had been officially married on December 31 of the filing year, we need information about your spouse (even if you have got a divorce later). It will be used only on the tax return for the year where you still were married.
  3. On the question of whether you should file jointly or separately from your spouse, we will advise which way of filing is more beneficial. This is an essential part of the tax analysis we perform for all our clients.

Did any of your family members live with you during the filing year?

Please note that this question is required by the IRS. It refers to the filing year (so if you are completing the Questionnaire for 2013, you should answer it with respect to your situation in 2013).

It is addressed to the primary taxpayer - if filing joint return and spouse lives with you, the answer is Yes. If spouse lives separately, you can still answer Yes if there are other family members living with you (i.e. child or parent).

A family member can be anybody you consider as such - i.e. your immediate or extended family. For example your spouse, children, parents, siblings or other people you consider family - such as your partner even if you are not in a registered relationship.

Were you married for only part of the filing year?

If you were married for the entire filing year - please answer NO.

If you were married for only part of the year (due to getting married or divorced during the year) - please answer YES, then tell us how your marital status changed in response to the next question. 

Spouse Name

  1. IRS requires information about your marital status during the tax year as well as basic details about your spouse (in case you were married).
  2. You don't have to report your spouse's income if they are a not a US citizen or green card holder. But you are required to provide their name and personal details.
  3. For past year returns - if you had been officially married on December 31 of the filing year, we need information about your spouse (even if you have got a divorce later). It will be used only on the tax return for the year where you still were married.

Did you incur childcare or other dependent care expenses

Childcare means establishments (or individuals) that provide   child welfare and safety. Establishments that fully or partially provide for education are not eligible - neither in the U.S. or abroad. Thus a daycare facility would be eligible, while a kindergarten or preschool would not.

Very important -   please do not report child care expenses for children who are over 12 years old by the end of the reporting year. If you do - you run a very high chance of being audited by the IRS. Likewise, do not report expenses for overnight camp or extracurricular programs where children must be accompanied by parents.

This can be anyone who   is paid for providing child care (either family or hired help). It can be individuals and organizations, foreign and US, nurseries and afterschool programs - but not educational institutions. By definition, child care is a deductible expense if it is procured for child safety and well being but not for education.

If this is a U.S. person then their Social Security or EIN number is reported and that person includes this payment on their tax return. If it's a foreign person, then no tax ID is required and we report expenses paid to the foreign care provider.

Please note that this expense is only deductible if you are single or if both spouses are employed. 

Did you perform work as a consultant or independent contractor for a U.S. firm?

It is required to report your worldwide income to the IRS.

Is your spouse a Green Card holder?

Please note - if your spouse abandoned the GC during the tax year, please answer this question with a NO.

However - you have to upload a copy of the abandoned Green Card in response to the next question - "Please upload a copy of the spouse Green card if he/she abandoned permanent residency or plans to abandon".

If you are waiting for a new or replacement card upon an approved application, then the answer to this question is YES.

Did you pay or receive Alimony during the tax year?

Amounts paid under divorce or separate maintenance decrees or written separation agreements entered into between you and your spouse or former spouse will be considered alimony for federal tax purposes if:

  • You and your spouse or the former spouse do not file a joint return with each other
  • You pay in cash (including checks or money orders)
  • The payment is received by (or on behalf of) your spouse or former spouse
  • The divorce or separate maintenance decree or written separation agreement does not say that the payment is not alimony
  • If legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, you and your former spouse are not members of the same household when you make the payment
  • You have no liability to make the payment (in cash or property) after the death of your spouse or former spouse, and
  • Your payment is not treated as child support or a property settlement

Please note - child support is not a taxable income and does not have to be reported.

Have you (or your spouse) been audited or had correspondence with the IRS in the last 3 years?

This means that the IRS   wrote to you about a past return. If you simply filed your returns and heard nothing back from the IRS (this means everything is OK) - you should answer NO.

We ask this so that we are aware of your current status with the IRS.

IRS correspondence unrelated to the unfiled or incorrectly filed tax returns does not count. For example, if you were contacted about potential identity theft - the answer should be NO.

Number of shares your spouse owns in corporation (if Any)

Applies to a non-resident spouse as well.

Does your spouse co-own your shares in the Corporation?

Please indicate their name and SS# if U.S. person. If the non-US resident, please provide name and NRA in lieu of tax ID.

Names of Childcare Provider

This is defined as any individual or business providing for the child under the age of 13 well-being and protection.

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