Resident aliens living in the United States must file their tax return by the same deadline that all U.S. citizens do. However, just like U.S. citizens, resident aliens can also request an extension to file their taxes.

Resident aliens can file for an extension by the tax filing deadline to receive a 6-month extension to file their taxes. In this post, we go over how to tell if you qualify as a resident alien, how to file a tax extension if you do, and other considerations to take into account when filing a tax extension as a resident alien.

How to File a Tax Extension as a Resident Alien

Filing a tax extension as a resident alien is the same process as filing for an extension as a U.S. citizen. In order to file an extension, you'll either need to file for an extension online or submit Form 4868 via mail.

In either case, you'll need the following information to file an extension:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your address
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Estimated tax liability

If you don't have an ITIN or SSN, you'll need to place an "ITIN or SSN to be requested" in that portion of Form 4868.

US Citizenship

What is a Resident Alien?

In order to accurately calculate your estimated tax liability, you'll need to know if you qualify as a resident or non-resident alien. While the difference seems menial, the determination can have big implications on the taxes you owe.

There are two tests to determine if you are a resident alien in the eyes of the IRS:

  • Green card test: You have a green card, and you are legally able to reside within the U.S. without being a citizen.
  • Substantial presence test: You've spent at least 31 days in the U.S. during the current tax year and at least 183 days in the past three years.

Counting the 183 Days

Counting 183 days over three years may seem relatively simple, but in this case, counting 183 days is actually a little complicated.

In order to know if you satisfy the substantial presence test, use the following calculation:

  • All of the days that you were physically present in the current calendar year
  • 1/3 of the days you were present in the U.S. in the first year before the current year
  • 1/6 of the days you were present in the U.S. in the second year before the current year

If all of that added together equals 183 days or more, then you qualify as a resident alien for tax purposes. The reason this is important is that resident aliens are taxed in the same way as U.S. citizens, while non-resident aliens are only taxed on the income they made while in the U.S.

Exempt Individuals

Of course, some individuals are exempt from the substantial presence test altogether. Individuals in the following circumstances are considered non-resident aliens regardless of the substantial presence test:

  • A foreign government-related individual under an A or G visa
  • A teacher or trainee under a J or Q visa
  • A student under an F, J, M, or Q visa
Permanent residence

Estimating Taxes as a Resident Alien

If you qualify as a resident alien, then you'll need to calculate your estimated taxes on all income you made in the calendar year that you qualify for. This means that if you haven't had any taxes deducted from your paycheck or haven't made quarterly estimated tax payments, you'll need to pay your entire tax liability for the year when filing your extension.

Depending on your income, your tax liability could be quite large if you weren't expecting to qualify as a resident alien. If this is the case, check out our article on handling taxes when you can't pay by the deadline if you need extra time to pay.

Alternatively, if you qualify as a non-resident alien, then you are only taxed on the income made while you were in the U.S. Therefore, its essential to completely understand your residence status as it could mean a big difference in the taxes you owe.

Filing a Tax Extension as a Resident Alien

As you can see by just trying to determine your estimated taxes, filing taxes as a resident alien can be quite complicated. Therefore, its usually beneficial to request an extension to file your taxes so you have all the time needed to thoroughly complete your tax return.

Filing your tax extension online is the easiest and most efficient way to request a tax extension. At, we make the extension process painless through our easy-to-use online form. Get started filing your extension today so that you can have an additional six months to file your tax extension.

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