Riddle Me This

2015-04-02 wine glass editedWhen the tax accountant asked me to fill out form 8840, I was right on that. I can fill out a form like nobody’s business. I understand how bureaucracy works and I’m willing to jump through all the hoops.  No problem.

I got together all the documents I needed to identify myself, and I sat down at the dinner table with a glass of wine, my freshly printed form 8840, and not one but two pens with black ink.  I used to be a girl guide, so I like to be prepared.

The form’s verbal title is Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens and I have to complete it because I file a tax return in the US even though I am a Canadian citizen, resident, and taxpayer. It’s complicated, but just trust me on this.  Form 8840 means that I can spend winters with my sister and her family, and that’s all that counts.

I was doing pretty well with the first few questions. They soft-sell with the easy stuff at the beginning. I filled out my name, tax number, addresses in both countries, dates I was in the US in 2014, passport number, and the number of days I have been in the US for the last three years. That last question would be tricky, but I’ve been keeping track so I’m ready for these guys. Then I got to question 6.  It asks if I have applied for or have an application pending for a permanent resident visa, which I have. I applied back in January of 2013, but I’ve been told that the wait may be five years or even as many as eleven, depending on which pile they put my application in. Yeah, it’s a game of endurance. Anyway, I checked the “Yes” box.

Along with the form 8840 comes a two-page set of General Instructions which includes some Specific Instructions. Among the latter is the following: If you checked the “Yes” box on line 6, do not file Form 8840.  Oh, great.  Now you tell me.  Why is it not question 1, then?  It goes on to say: You are not eligible for the closer connection exception. However, you may qualify for nonresident status by reason of a treaty. See Pub. 519 for details. If so, file Form 8833. Gah!

Being a good ex-girl guide I am quite obedient and brilliant at following directions. I don’t always like them, but that’s irrelevant. I dutifully went online and found Form 8833. You are going to love this. The title of this document is:  Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b).  Isn’t that awesome? And, that is not the most impressive part.  The questions that follow are even more convoluted. I managed to fill in my name and address, but after that it was impossible.  Here for your reading pleasure is the first question: Check one or both of the following boxes as applicable:

  • The taxpayer is disclosing a treaty-based return position as required by section 6114
  • The taxpayer is a dual-resident taxpayer and is disclosing a treaty-based return position as required by Regulations section 301.7702(b)-7

I thought to myself “I’m a pretty smart person. I should be able to make sense of this,” and I read it again. Nope, I still didn’t understand.  So, I asked my roommate to interpret it for me, and I read it aloud.  She asked me to read it again, then looked at me as if I had talked to her in Swahili. A treaty-based return position sounds like something you might perform when playing Twister, the treaty in that case being an agreement to quit when you fall over. When I get to my third glass of wine, falling over is a real possibility. Perhaps what I need to do is to find Pub. 519. I think it’s somewhere along the Old Kent Road in London.


  1. Creative suggestions – I learned a lot from the insight . Does anyone know where my assistant might get access to a blank 2013 IRS 8840 version to edit ?

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