In our past blog post (Does Filing Tax Returns Affect My Immigration Case?), we discussed the reasons why all immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, should file their tax returns.
It is important to note that merely filing your tax returns is not sufficient to satisfy an immigration inquiry. It is equally important that your tax returns are filed correctly. An incorrect tax return may jeopardize your immigration case.
The following common errors can be particularly problematic:
- Selecting improper filing status – Married couples may file 1) a joint return, or 2) separate returns with the status of married. Separate filings with the incorrect status of single or head of household are not proper. Such filings may be used by USCIS as evidence of a sham marriage, resulting in a denial of a green card or placement in removal proceedings.
- Claiming improper dependency exemptions – All tax filers get an exemption for each qualified dependent they claim on their tax return. An exemption is a pre-determined dollar amount you can deduct from your taxable income, resulting in reduction in your tax return payment, or even a credit. (You can deduct $4,050 for each exemption you claim in 2016). It is important to keep in mind that any form of relief in removal proceeding in immigration court requires a showing of “good moral character”. Thus, claiming improper dependency exemptions may have a detrimental impact on your immigration case if you are determined to be of “poor moral character”.