People who live and work in the United States are responsible for the payment of income taxes. The IRS, also known as the Internal Revenue Service, requires regular tax payments and yearly submission of tax documents. These payments are necessary for all legal residents. Taxes for immigrants are required for most classification types. There are two main immigrant classifications including tax residents and non-tax residents. Income taxes must be paid annually by all tax residents.

Immigration Classification

Permanent legal residents, also called green card holders, fall under the classification of tax residents. This means that they must pay federal, state, and local taxes on all income earned. Taxes apply to income earned both in the United States, as well as abroad. Those who are green card holders are subject to taxation, regardless of the length of time they lived in the country for the year. This is different than those who are in the United States on non-immigrant Visas.

Tax Residents

Non-immigrant Visa holders are classified as residents for tax purposes if they meet specific requirements. Those who have been in the U.S. for more than 183 days in the current year, or 183 weighted days during the past three years, must pay taxes. Calculations are made to determine the total number of days spent in the U.S., which are adjusted based on whether they were in the current year or past years. Other circumstances could also require you to pay taxes.

Other Workers

Other immigrants who are working in the United States, such as undocumented workers, should pay taxes. However, a taxpayer ID is required to file taxes, which these workers do not have. Generally, tax situations for illegal immigrants are complex, and those workers need to be aware that they may be required to make tax payments if requested to do so at a later date.

More Information

It is important to understand the legal requirement for you to pay taxes in the United States. Failure to properly pay taxes could hurt your chances of legal immigration. To learn more about paying income taxes you should read the IRS document called U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, also called IRS form 519. An experienced immigration attorney is helpful in answering your tax questions and in assisting you in completing the necessary documents to ensure that you maintain a legal immigration status.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Taxes for Immigrants, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at  480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.