Anybody who is not living in the United States and not a citizen of the United States, is classified by the US tax authorities as a "non resident alien". Any of these NRAs who earn money in the United States, however, need to file taxes on that income with the form 1040NR.

I am filling out this form, as I have a few work related stock option benefits for which I have earned some small amount of dividends.

At the bottom of the form, I am asked to fill in my "Occupation in the United States." The official instructions state, "Be sure to date your return and enter your occupation in the United States."

So a question here for anybody who may know: What is my "occupation in the united states"?? Could it possibly be the same thing as my occupation, which is not in the United States? Or maybe is my occupation just "investor"? or Unemployed, or none?

To be honest I am a little uncomfortable giving the factual answer ("investor"), as my income in this occupation is only $100 and that is, in principle, lying because it suggests a situation that is not true.

  • 1
    You could ascribe the income to the employer from whom you earned the stock options, and describe your occupation accordingly. But that might be seen as implying that you performed such work in the US, which you probably didn't. Consensus on the web seems to be that it doesn't really matter. I'd probably go with investor or none.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


You can put me in the camp that thinks the answer to that question isn't very important.

Judged by my own returns, however, it appears that my accountant may think the answer should depend on whether there is employment income (i.e. income reported with a W-2) on line 8 of the return. On my last 1040NR I got some of that due to the exercise of old, left-over stock options and on that one he called me an "Engineer" which is what I was doing in the US when the options were granted. On the previous year's return I had nothing on line 8, all income was of the unearned variety on other lines, and he called me an "N/A".

If your income was in fact dividend income from stock acquired in some previous year (which wouldn't be reported on line 8) I think you are probably an "N/A" as well, independent of how or what you were doing when you acquired ownership of the stock.

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