When applying for Fiancee or Spouse visas, or Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residency US Immigration requires that the sponsor demonstrate his financial eligibility. For most sponsors the financial proofs required are proof of employment, year to date earnings statements such as pay stubs and the sponsors most RECENT Federal Tax return.
US Citizens and residents are required to file Federal Income tax returns each year. The filing reflects the income the person had in the entire regular calendar year starting from January 1 through to December 31.
Regardless of when the return was actually sent in to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) its contents are ONLY current up to December 31.
For example a tax return filed for the 2016 tax year would be 4 months out of date as of April 2017, 6 months out of date as of June 2017, 9 months out of date as of September 2017, and 12 months out of date as of December 2017. By January 2018, 13 months out of date, by February 2018, 14 months out of date, and so on.
When Immigration reviews a sponsor's financial evidences, recent data is more relevant and is preferred over old data. Come March, immigration greatly prefers to see one's most immediate year's Tax return thats only 3 months old , instead of a 15 month old tax return from the earlier year..
But "My accountant says I should wait till October to file my taxes"
Thats where the problem lies. While US Immigration requires RECENT data, IRS is more lenient.
The stated IRS deadline for ones tax return is on April 15, but every H&R Block tax preparer knows it is easy enough to defer the filing for 6 more months till October 15. And they advise their clients to hold off till then.
Immigration's requirements trump IRS
What is acceptable to IRS is NOT acceptable to Immigration. Typically at the overseas consulates they will accept a 14 or 15 month old 'recent' tax return, but not older.
USCIS and NVC (National Visa Center) aren't so generous usually a 14 month old return is the oldest that may pass muster.
If a sponsor's income comes primarily from earned income, and his W2 from last year is available, but he hasn't filed his tax returns, will that do instead? Logic says it should. However this is a matter that 'is in the eyes of the beholder'. Some consular or immigration officers are more flexible than others. In my experience submitting a 3 to 4 month old W2 and a 15 to 16 month old tax return was rejected 2 of 3 times. And after April, not accepted at all.
Should you file your tax return as early as possible in the new year? YES, you should, if you want your fiance or spouse to get their visas or green cards, without delay.
Take your accountant's advice NEXT year and file at the last minute, For THIS year, while your fiance's or spouse's immigration cases are pending, file as early as you can.
By Fred Wahl