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H-2A Workers: Taxes & Retirement

Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) LSC Funded
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Learn if you need to file US income taxes if you are an H-2A worker and what you will need to file your taxes.

Do I have to have taxes witheld from my paycheck?

No. An H-2A worker is exempt from federal income tax withholding. Your employer does NOT have to withhold taxes from your paychecks. If you want your employer to withhold taxes, you can ask him or her to do it. But you do not have to.

Do I have to file a U.S. tax return?

It depends on your earnings, marital status, dependents, and residency.

Whether you have to file a U.S. tax return depends on these factors:

  • how much you earned
  • whether you are married
  • how many children you have
  • and how long you worked in the U.S.

For example, an H-2A worker who is single would have had to file a U.S. tax return if the worker earned $10,400 or more in 2017. For a worker who has children, that amount was $13,400.

A worker who is married or has children may have a lower tax bill than a worker who is single. Your spouse and children are called "depenedents."

On your U.S. tax return, you can only claim a spouse or a child if that person has a Social Security number or an ITIN. If your dependent doesn't have a Social Security number, you'll need to apply for an "ITIN" for that person. "ITN" stands for tax identification number.

How do I apply for an ITIN?

To apply for an ITIN, file a Form W-7 with the IRS for each dependent.

Along with the W-7 from, you must submit documentation to prove your identity, such as a passport. The supporting document must be an original document or certified copy. Your country's consulate may be able to help you get a certiffied copy.

Do I have to have Social Security or Medicare (FICA) withheld from my paycheck?

No. An H-2A worker is exempt from Social Security  and FICA withholding. If your employer has withheld social security or FICA taxes from your paychecks, you can ask the IRS for that money back. File IRS Form 843 with the IRS to ask for the money back.

Can I get retirement benefits from the U.S. if I have paid social security taxes?

No. H-2A workers are not eligible for U.S. social security and should not pay social security taxes.

How do I get more help?

Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil legal help to low-income people who meet certain eligibility criteria:
•    Apply at anytime online at mtlsa.org;
•    Call our Helpline at 1-800-666-6899 (Helpline hours may be limited to certain day time hours).

Last Review and Update: Feb 14, 2018
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