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10 Things U.S. Au Pairs Should Know About Paying Taxes

Tax season is never easy to navigate and if you’re trying to file taxes as an au pair hailing from a foreign country they can be exceptionally tricky and difficult. Before you try to tackle those tax forms be sure to read through these ten things that au pairs working in the U.S. should know about paying taxes:

  1. Use the 1040 NR-EZ tax form – There are a variety of different forms that can be filled out when filing taxes, and navigating through all of the forms to find the correct one for you can be confusing and difficult. Look for the 1040 NR-EZ tax form on the IRS website (to avoid any confusion, it can be found here).
  2. Taxes are for the previous calendar year – When you’re filling out your earnings they will be for the previous calendar year running from January to December. Any earnings made from the beginning of the current year are not applicable and will be applied to next year’s taxes.
  3. You will not need to pay Medicare or Social Security taxes – While U.S. residents are required to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes, au pairs are normally exempt from this because of their status as a J-1 non-immigrant and nonresident alien. However there are certain exceptions to this exemption if you have lived in the U.S. in the past and have had certain visas.
  4. Au pairs are not allowed to claim the Standard Deduction – This is important because at the current wage rate afforded to au pairs it is high enough that you will meet the U.S. income tax liability.
  5. Taxes are due on April 15th of each year – The only time this date is flexible is when April 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, in which case the IRS will issue a statement extending the due date by a few days. When in doubt, always file before April 15th.
  6. The decision to not file taxes can result in the ability to obtain future visas – Paying yearly taxes are mandatory each year in the United States. If you make the decision to avoid filing your taxes as an au pair it can result in refusal of future visas to the country. If you try to obtain a new visa with unpaid taxes you may be required to pay them before being issued the visa.
  7. You will need a Social Security or Tax ID number to file taxes – One of these two numbers is necessary for filing taxes, so make sure to obtain one before you start to file your taxes. If you wait too long you risk missing the deadline.
  8. Exemptions and deductions – Despite coming over as part of a work-study exchange program, au pairs are not allowed to file for an education deduction. It is also unlikely that you will be able to file anything under the itemized deductions portion of your tax return. You are, however, allowed to file for a personal exemption.
  9. Withholding Federal Income Tax – If you wish to have income tax withheld from your wages each month then you will need to file a W-4 form with the host family and then indicate as much on the form.
  10. Filing Agencies – There are agencies online that you can utilize to file free tax returns, however since filing as an au pair can be tricky you may want to hire a financial advisor to help ensure that everything is filled out correctly and avoid any unnecessary setbacks.

Filing taxes can be frustrating and confusing with so many different rules and steps, however it is required for everyone to file them. To avoid getting in any trouble or making any mistakes keep a record of your wages and file early.

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