What Was Form 1078: Certificate of Alien Claiming Residence in the United States?

Form 1078: Certificate of Alien Claiming Residence in the United States was an official document issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permitting the filer to claim residency within the U.S. for income tax reporting purposes. Once filed, the person filing the form was required to pay tax on their income within the U.S. If they were currently earning income outside of the U.S., that income was also considered subject to U.S. tax laws.

Depending on their country of origin, the taxpayer could have been required to pay income tax in their home country.

Form 1078 had no effect on citizenship or on the filer's eligibility for citizenship.

Who Filed Form 1078: Certificate of Alien Claiming Residence in the United States?

Form 1078 applied only to resident aliens. As defined by the U.S. government, resident aliens are people who are non-U.S. citizens but who currently reside within the U.S. There are three categories of resident alien: permanent resident, conditional resident, and returning resident. Each of these categories is distinct under U.S. immigration policy. In order to legally work in the U.S., people in these classifications must have official work permits or work visas. Form 1078 was used only if the taxpayer was—or became—a resident alien before 1998.

Form W-9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (which was also used by U.S. citizens) replaced Form 1078 after the tax year 1998, according to the IRS Publication 519: U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, published to aid in filing tax returns for that year. Like Form W-9, Form 1078 was provided by an employer to the employee and filled out when employment began. It allowed the employer to report how much income was paid to each employee at the end of the year.

The form required the signee, under penalty of perjury, to declare their country of citizenship, the date they were admitted into the U.S., their visa or permit number and class, and that they established residency in the U.S. Signing the form also indicated that the signee understood that their income both inside and outside of the U.S. was subject to American Internal Revenue Service tax law for the time period.

Special Considerations for Form 1078: Certificate of Alien Claiming Residence in the United States

Non-citizens may work legally in the U.S. However, in order to do so, they must apply for an Employment Authorization Document, also known as an EAD card or a work permit. EAD cards are issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These permits remain valid for two years, after which they must be renewed. By law, all employers in the U.S. are required to confirm that all employees are legally permitted to work in the U.S., regardless of their nation of origin.

People who require work permits in the U.S. include refugees, foreign students, dependents of foreign government officials, asylum seekers, fiancés/fiancées of foreign citizens, and people seeking temporary protected status.

Form 1078 vs. Form W-9

As mentioned above, Form 1078 was replaced in the 1998 tax year by Form W-9. This new form is used to request a taxpayer identification number (TIN) of a U.S. person including a resident alien. It is also used to request certain certifications and claims for exemption.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 1078 permitted the filer to claim U.S. residency for income tax reporting purposes.
  • Form 1078 had no effect on the filer's citizenship or eligibility for citizenship.
  • The form was replaced in the 1998 tax year by Form W-9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification.