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An answer would be great but pointers to information would also be greatly appreciated:

I am a researcher from the UK, currently in the US on a J1 visa. Article 20 of the UK-US tax treaty gives me a 2 year exemption from US tax. Originally I planned to return to the UK before the 2 years expired, however due to the Covid situation I'd like to stay a couple more months but unpaid, that is I'd quit my job. Staying over the 2 years would result in owing 2 years worth of back taxes to the IRS and I'd like to avoid that.

I think that leaving the US (for example going to Jamaica) and returning on an ESTA visitor visa, would allow me to avoid the tax. However there doesn't appear any information on how long such a trip would have to last for before I can return to the US without owing the tax. Does anyone know if there is a minimum excursion time?

Additionally I'm not sure whether the fact that I'll still be a US tax resident (I won't have re-established tax residency in the UK as I'll only have gone to Jamaica) will cause a problem. Does anyone know whether this will cause a problem?

I realise my case is pretty specific, but any information anyone can offer would be extremely appreciated. Is phoning the IRS a good idea?

Thanks for reading.

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