Important Tax Information

IMPORTANT:  I am not a tax professional, and these answers are just based on my general knowledge as a US citizen who has had to file and pay taxes herself.  This is not meant to be tax advice; it is just intended to be helpful – you will want to read the instructions for yourself.  Your host parents may be able to answer questions like these, too, since they also file and pay taxes.

Do I really have to pay taxes?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says that all au pairs have to FILE taxes; only some au pairs will actually have to PAY taxes.  It depends on how much you earned in 2009.  Since au pairs arrive at different times of the year, you each made different amounts of money in 2009, and so the answer is different for every au pair.  I cannot tell you if you’ll have to pay taxes or not.  If you fill out the 1040NR-EZ form, it will help you calculate if you will owe taxes and how much.  Even if you don’t owe taxes, you still want to file the form by completing it and mailing it in, according to the instructions.  You should file taxes for every calendar year that you work as an au pair in the US.

What will happen if I decide not to file or pay taxes?
I don’t know for sure.  As a taxpayer myself, I understand that the IRS checks some portion of the population and follows up with them if they did not pay the right amount of tax.  This is called an “audit.”  They do not audit everyone.  If they do an audit and find that someone did not pay enough in taxes, they require that person to pay the original amount plus additional amounts for interest and penalties.  So, if you decided not to file or pay taxes, then you might get a letter from the IRS at some point in the future requiring you to pay – and if so, it would be for a bigger amount than it would have been if you’d paid on time.  I believe it is illegal to not pay taxes that are owed and there may be other consequences if you do not pay.  But as far as I’m aware, the most likely possible consequence would be a letter from the IRS requiring payment in the future.  Cultural Care does not track au pair taxes or get involved in any way – we have simply provided you with a summary of the information that’s available from the IRS.

…And a brief word about Facebook:
I am aware of Facebook groups springing up recently on the subject of au pair taxes.  Some au pairs are joining these groups and posting comments that they plan to not pay taxes.  Whatever your personal decision or feeling about the matter, I would remind you that Facebook is a PUBLIC FORUM.  When you join a group like this, you are making your NAME, HOME TOWN, AGE, and other identifying information visible to everyone – including, perhaps, the IRS who does the audits!!  I would strongly encourage you to NOT join these groups (and/or leave the group if you’ve already joined).  It is never wise to publish your intention to break the law in a public forum!

This is the first I’ve heard about taxes.  What happened or what is different now that Cultural Care is telling us about this now?
Nothing has changed.  The tax law related to au pairs is the same as it was in years past.  Cultural Care has always had basic tax information and links to the IRS website in the host family and au pair online accounts.  The only reason Cultural Care actively sent the new Tax Guide this year is that we had increased questions from host parents and au pairs asking that we provide more complete and helpful information.

Ok, so where can I get the form I need to fill out?
The form is called the 1040NR-EZ and the attached tax guide gives an example of how to fill it out.  If you go to the www.IRS.gov website and search on 1040NR-EZ, you will find the form to download and print.  It is only 2 pages long, and the attached tax guide gives an example of what it looks like filled out.

The form asks for my “identifying number” at the top by my name.  What is this?
Your identification number is your Social Security Number.  If you don’t have one already, you can do this to get one:

·         Log in to your online CulturalCare.com account and on the home page you’ll see a link for Letter to the Social Security Administration.  Download and print this letter.
·         Take this letter and your ID (passport, visa, drivers licenses, etc.) to the nearest Social Security Administration office.  You find the nearest office by going to www.ssa.gov.  I believe they give you the number/card on the same day that you go there.  You can call them before you go to see if there’s a long wait or to see if there’s any delayed period until they mail the card.

How do I figure out my wages for line 3?
You multiply the amount that your host family pays you each week x the number of weeks you were an au pair in 2009.

How do I know how many weeks I was an au pair in 2009?
Count your weeks with a calendar to see how many weeks you were in the US in 2009 only.  Start with your arrival date and count each week through the end of the year, 12/31/2009.  Do NOT count any weeks in 2010 – you will count these weeks on your tax form NEXT year.  If you happened to arrive right at the very beginning of 2009 or if you arrived in 2008 and extended your program term, then you might have been in the US for ALL of 2009 – in which case you would use 52 weeks.  But for most au pairs, it will be less than 52 weeks.  Do NOT count weeks when you did not receive a stipend – when you were traveling in your “13th month” after completing the program term, or if you had a 2 week transition period and were not working.  You should count all other weeks when you received a stipend.

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Tuesday, 1 March 2011 8:00 AM

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