Many US residents (green card holders) who owe taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mistakenly believe they are not eligible to obtain US citizenship when most residents who owe tax are actually eligible to apply for naturalization as long as they meet certain criteria.
The key to successful naturalization for those who owe IRS taxes is to follow several basic steps. One of the most important requirements to qualify for US citizenship is proof that you have been in the immediate five years prior to filing the naturalization application (the last three years for early naturalization due to marriage to a US citizen) . Issues that have the greatest impact on “good morals” include a person’s criminal background, paying child support, and paying taxes.
Many criminal convictions that occur during the “good moral character” period often result in non-admission. In general, it is best to wait at least five years (or three years for early naturalization) since the date of the conviction or the completion of the probation period, whichever comes later. For child maintenance, proof of ongoing payments for maintenance arrears together with evidence of ongoing maintenance payments often lead to approval of naturalization.
When it comes to the IRS tax issue, many individuals owe taxes either because they couldn’t afford to pay last year’s taxes or because they were wrong about their previous taxes. Worse still, the fear of overtaxing taxes often leads taxpayers to avoid filing a required tax return, which then falls further and further behind. The best approach is to file all required taxes for previous years and come to an agreement with the IRS to pay the taxes owed. Here is what you need to do:
Step # 1: Register Your Taxes:
If you have not submitted a tax return in the past few years, the first step is to submit all outstanding tax returns now. This is required before applying for a payment arrangement with the IRS. You should probably seek the advice and assistance of an accountant during this process, which costs a lot less than many think. The IRS will then send you an invoice showing the taxes owed.
Step # 2 Set Up a Payment Plan with the IRS:
The only way to naturalize when you are in tax debt is to enter into a payment plan or installment agreement with the IRS. To do this, you should call the IRS and explain that you owe taxes and want to set up a payment schedule, and need a formal installment payment agreement that states the total amount owed and for what years. Agents are often very understanding and willing to work with you and keep monthly payments as low as possible. Be sure to explain any extenuating circumstances that have a negative impact on your income and solvency, such as large financial expenses for medical or other expenses.
Step # 3 set up automatic payments:
Ask the IRS agent to set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. This is absolutely the best way to ensure your monthly IRS installment payments are on time, and the best documentary evidence to prove to USCIS that you have paid your taxes systematically and on time. The agent will usually ask you which day of the month you want to be charged.
Step # 4 Make Your Payments:
Make sure you have enough funds in your bank account each month to make your scheduled payments. Save copies of your bank statements every month and mark IRS payments in yellow.
Step # 5 Prepare for Naturalization!
Once you have your installment payment plan and have made regular payments for a few months (3-6 months), you should be ready to apply for naturalization. Once the time comes, you should contact the IRS and request the following:
1) Tax and wage certificates: for the last five years (three years in the case of early naturalization) with details of your official taxes filed with the IRS;
2) Payment protocol: Show all of your previous installment payments for documentary evidence to the USCIS.
Step # 6 file for naturalization!
Prepare your naturalization application and submit all required documents, along with a copy of your:
1) Tax and wage certificates: for the last five years (three years in the case of early naturalization)
2) Payment Logs show all previous installment payments
3) Installment payment agreement and
4) bank statements with highlights showing all payments made.
Once your naturalization interview is scheduled, you should also request an updated payment log from the IRS listing all of your payments from the date your application was submitted to the interview, along with updated bank statements highlighting all payments made while your naturalization case was being processed .
Special note: In cases where a resident has not filed tax returns in previous years, it is always best to prepare a written, signed statement explaining the circumstances of the non-filing, including any financial or family issues that require filing on time have prevented, and a statement of the regrets or remorse for the failure. We have successfully helped residents who owe tax debts gain naturalization! Call us and arrange a free consultation. Make sure you bring any tax bills you have received from the IRS and your tax returns for the past five years so we can go through your case carefully to determine the best approach to obtaining your naturalization.