My mother-in-law moved from Puerto Rico to the US and the only income she has is from a pension that she receives from a lifetime of teaching in PR.
Even though she lives in the US, does she need to file a US tax return if she does not receive any US income?
Thanks for the question. The IRS gets this question often- in fact, here is their direct answer – note that the filing requirement is determined by the residency.
Is a Person With Income From Puerto Rican Sources Required to File a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return?
In general, United States citizens and resident aliens who are bona fide residents of Puerto Rico during the entire tax year, which for most individuals is January 1 to December 31, are only required to file a U.S. federal income tax return if they have income sources outside of Puerto Rico or if they are employees of the U.S. government. Bona fide residents of Puerto Rico generally do not report income received from sources within Puerto Rico on their U.S. income tax return. However, they should report all income received from sources outside Puerto Rico on their U.S. income tax return. Residents of Puerto Rico who are employed by the government of the United States or who are members of the armed forces of the United States also should report all income received for their services to the government of the United States on their U. S. income tax return.
United States citizens or resident aliens who are not bona fide residents of Puerto Rico during the entire tax year are required to report all income from whatever source derived on their U.S. income tax return. However, a U.S. citizen who changes residence from Puerto Rico to the United States and who was a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico at least two years before changing residence can exclude from U.S. taxable income the Puerto Rican source income received while residing in Puerto Rico during the taxable year of such change of residence.
If you are a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico and qualify to exclude your Puerto Rican source income on your U.S. tax return, you must determine your adjusted filing requirement based on the filing thresholds shown in the tax return instructions. For more information about how to determine the amount of income that requires filing a U.S. income tax return, refer to Publication 570 and Publication 1321 (PDF).
I hope this helps.
Jim Buttonow is one of the resident debt experts here at GetOutOfDebt.org that helps people for free. Jim is a licensed CPA who spent 19 years with the IRS coordinating large compliance teams of IRS agents and specialized personnel. In the last 5 years, Jim has invented consumer and practitioner software and treatises on how to address many different tax issues. He has also represented many people before the IRS examination, collection, filing, and appeals functions. He currently assists taxpayers on an active pro bono tax practice aimed at serving people in need. He can be reached at IRSMind.com.
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