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ResourcesCorporate and Tax AdvisoryUS Tax LawUnited States Visa Applications: What is an IRS Non-filing Letter?

United States Visa Applications: What is an IRS Non-filing Letter?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are going to be discussing US Visa applications; specifically issues associated with IRS tax transcripts or more appropriately the lack thereof.

When does this pop up? And I do understand that this video is quite narrow with respect to the scope of the discussion that it's undertaking with respect to US immigration but strangely enough, at least here in Thailand, we see this issue come up a lot. 

Frequently, there are a number of petitioners for American visas benefits for a Thai fiancée or spouse who primarily live on their Social Security and perhaps assets that they have accumulated over their  lifetime; essentially retirees. Those folks often times, depending on their financial situation, if they are only collecting Social Security benefits, they may not be required to file tax returns in the United States, or with the IRS. Notwithstanding the fact that they live abroad, many Americans still need to file tax returns but in the cases involving those who are primarily deriving most of their annual income off of Social Security, it may not be required that they file tax a return. This may also be the same for those who are on a public pension, folks who work for governments back in the United States who are on a pension scheme and basically they don't need to file tax returns. Again this is very circumstantially dependent but it does happen and not infrequently at least in the context of Thailand.

So oftentimes what we will see is a 221 (g) which is a request for further documentation in association with the US visa application and one of the things they will ask for is what is called a non-filing letter and what this basically is it is a letter from the IRS, that says look this individual hasn't filed taxes for a given year. It is kind of a strange thing to request because simply saying look I didn't file taxes is not sufficient in most cases. The US Embassy wants to fulfill all the formalities associated with the application for the US Visa so they request that the petitioner, the one who is filling out an I-864 Affidavit of Support, and they may actually have a joint sponsor, even if they do have a joint sponsor they still want to go ahead and see that that individual has a non-filing letter or a letter from the IRS that says they didn't file their taxes.

 Again I think that this is something akin to like an exercise in ticking the boxes, but it is something that is required and it is something that oftentimes can cause rather slight delays with respect to final processing of a visa application because the Consular Officer adjudicating the case wants to see a non-filing letter.