Does my non-American spouse need to file?
I am a US citizen married to a nonresident alien. What is my filing status and can I claim an exemption for my foreign spouse?
In general, if you are a US citizen or resident alien married to a nonresident alien, you are considered “Married Filing Separately”. This is unless you qualify for a different filing status. If you pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying child or other relative, you may qualify for the head of household filing status.
If you are a US citizen or resident alien married to a nonresident alien, you and your spouse can choose to have your spouse treated as a US resident for all US federal income tax purposes. This allows you and your spouse to file a joint return, but also subjects your nonresident alien spouse’s worldwide income to US income tax.
If you file a joint return, you can claim an exemption for your nonresident alien spouse. If you do not file a joint return, you can claim an exemption for your nonresident alien spouse. But only if your spouse has no income from sources within the United States and is not the dependent of another US taxpayer.