In 2020, over 600,000 people from all over the world became United States citizens, and you’re ready to join them!
You have a Green Card, you’ve lived in the U.S. for a few years, and you’re over 18. But you’ve overlooked one step: paying your taxes. And now you’re wondering if you can file for citizenship if you owe taxes.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be perfect to file for citizenship! You just need to be honest with yourself and your tax situation. Maybe one day you can proudly call yourself an American citizen, but for now, you’re just sitting tight and praying that the IRS doesn’t notice your tax delinquency. It’s time to take action!
Let’s look at what you need to know about filing for citizenship when you owe taxes, and how to navigate this complicated process.
Can You File for Citizenship if You Owe Taxes to the State?
You can still become a U.S. citizen if you owe taxes. Filing for citizenship is the same for everyone, regardless of whether you owe state taxes. You must still meet the same standards as a regular taxpayer, but you will do so in a different way.
One requirement for naturalization is showing “good moral character.” This means proving that you’ve been an upstanding member of society, including paying your taxes.
But if you’ve fallen behind on your taxes or haven’t paid them at all, don’t worry. You can still become a U.S. citizen by doing everything possible to fix the situation—and soon enough, you’ll be on your way to living the American dream!
How to File for Citizenship When You Haven’t Paid Taxes
The only way to become a legal resident while owing back taxes is to start a payment plan with the IRS.
To set up a payment plan, you must first file your taxes and receive a tax bill. Once that is done, you can complete and mail Form 9465 and Form 433-F to ask for a payment plan. Afterward, you will need to wait to hear from the IRS on the status of your application.
There are few instances where you may have a guarantee of approval, especially if you exceed the limits set by the IRS.
If you owe $10,000 or less in back taxes at the time you request an installment agreement, you are guaranteed approval once you meet the other criteria set by the IRS, including:
- You filed all income tax returns on time in the past 5 years
- You paid the tax due during your previous tax filings
- You have not requested an installment agreement in 5 years
Once approved, you must pay your tax debt within three years and comply with all tax laws while paying your installments.
If You Owe More Than $50,000
If you owe more than $50,000 in taxes, the IRS will ask you to provide more information about your financial history. You’ll need to fill out Form 9465-FS and provide a Collection Information Statement. The IRS will review this information to see if you qualify for an installment agreement.
How Taxes Impact Your Citizenship Request
If you failed to file or pay taxes in the past, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may still approve your application for citizenship if it determines that extenuating circumstances caused you not to comply with tax law. Of course, you would have to provide a good reason for why you didn’t pay taxes—such as being chronically ill or unemployed—and hope they accept your explanation.
If the agency finds on your background check that you have failed to pay taxes, but have a payment plan set up by the IRS, they will not consider this wrongdoing evidence of bad moral character. Still, they will note whether you are making payments on your plan, so don’t drag your feet when it comes to paying what you owe.
How to Get Help With Your Taxes
When it comes to taxes, it’s easy to feel like you’re in over your head. You may not know how much you owe, or whether the amount you were told is correct. Confirm your debt using the help of an agent before moving forward.
Remember: IRS penalties and interest charges can be significant; you can even run into legal trouble. You want to make sure you’re paying back the right amount.
Next, make a plan.
A good first step is to consult your employer’s human resources department and find out if they offer any services to help employees untangle their taxes.
You can also try negotiating a lower debt amount that you can pay off in full. For this, you would have to contact the IRS directly or hire a tax agent. An agent can suggest ways to reduce your tax burden and help you get back on solid financial ground.
If you need more information on the subject, visit the IRS website. Whatever route you choose, get help sooner rather than later so you can avoid any penalties or interest charges.
Fix Your Tax Problems and Become a Citizen
Citizenship is very difficult to get on your own, especially if you’re behind on your taxes. That doesn’t mean that you should give up hope.You can improve your chances by talking to a revenue officer at Houston’s top tax firm: Fiscal Solutions Group. Get in touch with us if you want more information on if you can file for citizenship if you owe taxes. We’ll help you learn more about naturalization and how we can set you up to get back on your feet financially.