A joint return generally cannot be filed if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the tax
However, if one spouse was a nonresident alien or dual-status alien who was married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of the year, the spouses can choose to file a joint return.
But, if you do file a joint return, you and your spouse are both treated as U.S. residents for the entire tax year. Because of that, this would mean that you would have to include all of your wife's income from China, even though she is not a resident here.
In order to determine whether or not you should file a joint return or separate return, you would really have to figure your tax both ways to see which offered you the biggest tax advantage. By filing a joint return, your standard deduction
will be $5,700 higher than filing as single, and you will also have one more personal allowance to claim for your wife which is worth another $3,650. These two allowances will give you an additional deduction of $9,350 from your taxable income
if you file a joint return.
If your wife's income from China is less than the $9,350 you would receive in additional deductions
, then it is worth your while to file a joint return. If her income was more than $9,350, then you lose the benefit of filing a joint return and actually would end up paying more tax because of having to include her income on your return.
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