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February 8, 2010 (UPDATED MARCH 31, 2015): Taxes And The Naturalization Application

Taxes And The Naturalization Application

According to IRS, if an individual makes up to $8950.00 per year, then the person does not need to file a tax return for that year. My question is, if I am applying for Naturalization, what would my answer be if an INS officer asked me if “I failed to file a tax return for that year.” Thanks for your reply.
— Anonymous

When applying for Naturalization, you always want to be honest and accurate when answering all of the questions. If a person is dishonest during the Naturalization process, either on the form or at the interview, then the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may deny your application for lack of good moral character.

It is also very important to read all of the questions very carefully. The N-400, Application for Naturalization, was dramatically changed in 2014.  In the present example, the actual question on the OLD Form N-400, reads: “Since becoming a lawful permanent resident, have you ever failed to file a required Federal, State, or local tax return?”  The NEW N-400 reads: “Have you ever [bold] not filed a Federal, State, or local tax return since you became a Permanent Resident?  If yes, did you consider yourself to be a “non-U.S. resident”?

On the OLD N-400, If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not require individuals who earn less than $8,950.00 in a given year to file a tax return, and you meet this criteria, then you may want to answer ‘no’ to this question on the Naturalization application because you were not required to file a tax return.  However, on the NEW N-400, it removed the word “required.”  Therefore, if you have EVER not filed a tax return, for whatever reason, the answer to this question should be ‘yes’ with an explanation as to why the tax return was not filed.  If in fact you were not required to file a tax return under the IRS code, then that would be a plausible explanation and should not bar naturalization.

It may be wise for you to consult with the IRS and/or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to verify that you are not required to file a tax return due to your income level. If you need assistance with the Naturalization application, it may be wise for you to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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