How to Get Your Tax Refund: An Immigrant’s Guide

Last updated on April 15th, 2024 at 03:22 pm

As an immigrant in the United States, filing a tax return can be a daunting task. However, it’s essential to file your individual income tax return to claim any tax credits or refunds you may be eligible for.

Refunds can help you add to your savings, pay bills, or send money home.

Read on for Remitly’s step-by-step guide on how to get a tax refund as an immigrant.

Understand the Basics of Tax Filing

Before we dive into the details of getting a tax refund, let’s first understand the basics of tax filing. Income tax is a tax paid on your income, and it is mandatory for all residents of the United States to file a tax return.

A tax return is a form filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that reports your income and taxes paid over the tax year. Your tax filing status depends on your marital status and whether you have dependents. Depending on your situation, there are different tax forms, such as the 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ.

Determine Your Eligibility for a Refund

One of the biggest advantages of submitting your tax return is that you may be eligible for a tax refund.

Under federal tax laws, a refund is the amount of money you get back from the IRS after submitting your tax return. The refund amount is calculated based on the taxes you paid and any tax credits you may be eligible for.

Some of the most common tax credits include the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.

Gather the Necessary Documents

You will need your social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to file your tax return.

You will also need to gather all the documents related to your income, such as W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and other income statements. If you have any deductions, you will also need to gather receipts and documents to support those deductions.

Choose Your Method of Filing

There are two ways to file your tax return—submitting your taxes electronically or submitting a paper return.

E-filing is the fastest and most convenient way to file your tax return. You can file your tax return electronically using tax preparation software like TurboTax or H&R Block. You can also use a tax professional to prepare and file your taxes.

If you prefer to file a paper return, you can download the necessary tax forms from the official website of the IRS or your state agency.

Check the Status of Your Refund

Once you have filed your tax return, you can check the status of your refund using the IRS “Where’s My Refund” tool. You will need to enter your social security number or ITIN, whether you filed individually, jointly, or as a head of household, and the refund amount you are expecting.

You can also sign up for direct deposit to get your refund deposited directly into your bank account.

FAQs About Tax Refunds for Immigrants

New immigrants have a lot to learn about the U.S. tax system. If you still have a lingering question or two about taxes, we have the answer you need. Read these FAQs to learn more.

How will my refund come?

Under IRS rules, tax refunds come in one of two ways: in the form of a paper check or as a direct deposit into a checking or savings account.

When you submit your tax form, you can specify which you prefer. If you do want a direct deposit, you’ll need to provide your account number and routing number. Should you neglect to add this information, the IRS will send you a paper check.

Some third-party tax preparers, like H&R Block, make it possible to get refunds in the form of a prepaid card that you can use, like a debit or credit card, to pay for goods and services. In some cases, the preparers assess fees for the cards.

If you opt into this service, your tax return will be sent to the preparer, who will load the card and give it to you. As a result, it may not be possible to track your refund status through the IRS website.

Do I need to file a tax return and pay taxes as an immigrant?

Anyone whose annual income is more than a certain amount must typically file a tax return and pay taxes in the U.S. This includes citizens, green card holders, temporary residents, and undocumented immigrants. Check out this guide from the IRS to determine if you need to file.

Can filing tax returns impact my immigration status?

Paying taxes may be to your benefit when working with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The requirements for becoming a citizen and obtaining a green card both include being of good moral character. One way to demonstrate that is to contribute to the U.S. economy by working and paying taxes.

Conversely, people who are required to pay taxes but fail to do so may find their applications to become citizens or permanent residents denied.

Can I get a refund if I am an undocumented immigrant?

Yes, you can still file your income tax return and claim any tax credits you may be eligible for using an ITIN.

How long does it take to get my refund?

The time it takes to get your refund depends on how you filed your tax return. If you e-filed and chose direct deposit, you can get your refund within 21 days. If you filed a paper return, it may take up to six weeks to receive your refund.

Can I claim the standard deduction if I am an immigrant?

Yes, you can claim the standard deduction regardless of your immigration status. However, if you have a dependent, you may be eligible for a higher standard deduction if you file as head of household.

Can I file an amended return if I made a mistake on my tax return?

Yes, you can file an amended return using Form 1040-X if you made a mistake on your tax return. You can file an amended return within three years of the original due date of your tax return.

Do I have to pay sales tax as an immigrant?

Yes, you have to pay sales tax on your purchases, just like any other resident in the United States. A sales tax is a tax that state and local governments impose on selling goods and services.

Can I get a power of attorney to file my tax return?

Yes, you can get a power of attorney to authorize someone else to prepare and file your tax return for you. You can use Form 2848 to appoint a tax professional or someone you trust to act on your behalf.

What if my refund is different from what I expected?

If you worked with a third-party tax preparer, first check to see if they deducted the fees for their services from your refund amount. Otherwise, report the problem to the IRS. Visit this page for more information.

Can a small business get a tax refund?

If small businesses pay more in quarterly taxes or qualify for tax rebates and credits, they may qualify for refunds just like individual taxpayers. An experienced tax professional can help determine if you’re entitled to a refund as an immigrant entrepreneur.

Do I need to pay taxes in my home country?

Each country establishes its own process and set of rules for who is and isn’t taxed. Whether or not you’ll need to pay taxes back home will depend on the guidelines put in place by your government. Contact a tax professional in your home country for more information.

What if I need help with my tax form?

The IRS can assist you if you need help filling out a particular tax form or have other questions or concerns. Taxpayers can get in touch with the IRS by visiting this page.

The Bottom Line

Filing a tax return can seem overwhelming, especially for immigrants who may not be familiar with the tax laws in the United States. However, it’s essential to file your tax return to claim any tax credits or refunds you may be eligible for.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can file your tax return with confidence and get your individual refund in a timely manner.

Remember, if you have any questions about tax filing or the status of your refund, you can always consult with tax professionals or visit the official website of the IRS or your state’s Department of Revenue for more information.

Don’t forget to keep track of your refund status using the “Where’s My Refund” tool and sign up for direct deposit to receive your refund faster.

Happy tax season!