Archive for February, 2016

  • Filing Your U.S. Tax Return: 5 Things You Should Know

    filing your taxes

    As an international student in the U.S., you are obliged to file a federal and state tax return for each year you are present in the U.S. Even if you have earned no U.S. sourced income, you still need to file a form 8843. All non-resident aliens in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 and other non-immigrant exchange program status must file form 8843.

    Generally in the U.S., you will be taxed on:

    • Income earned on or off campus
    • Stipend, fellowship, grant
    • Any other income from US sources

    Here are 5 things you should know before filing your U.S. tax return:

    1. Deadlines

    Don’t miss the tax filing deadline as you may get penalized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! This date usually lands on April 15 each year unless it happens to be on a weekend or holiday. This year, the deadline is Monday, April 18.

    2. Get your documents in order

    It’s very important that you have the correct documents required to prepare and file your tax return.

    These include:

    • Passport
    • U.S. entry and exit dates for current and all previous visits
    • All tax forms you’ve received (including Forms W-2, 1042-S and/or 1099, etc.)
    • Visa/Immigration Status information, including Form DS-2019 (for J visa holders) or Form I-20 (for F visa holders) Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • If you are using Sprintax for State Tax Return(s) preparation only you will need a copy of your already prepared Federal Tax return

    • W2 Form:
    You’ll need a W2 form to file your tax return if you worked on or off-campus. Your employer will provide you with a W-2 by the deadline and it will reflect your income from the previous year. The form is divided into state and federal sections and there are fields with employer information and details of your income.

    • 1042-S
    Typically, if you received a scholarship, fellowship, grant, or any other source of U.S. income subject to tax, you’ll need a form 1042-S to complete your tax return although this form may be used for many other income types as teaching, research, and investment income. You should receive form 1042-S from your university’s payroll department or the party that provided the income.

    3. ITIN

    You’ll need your ITIN for your federal tax return if you do not have and are not eligible for a social security number. If you don’t have one, Sprintax can help organize this for you. You don’t need one if you are just filing a form 8843, but if you have been supplied with one, you must include it on the form.

    4. Residency status

    The first thing you need to know when filing a tax return in the U.S. is if you are a resident or non-resident alien for tax purposes. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are considered a non-resident alien unless you meet one of two tests. You are a typically deemed a resident for tax purposes if you meet either the green card test or substantial presence test. Sprintax can determine your status for you when preparing your tax return.

    5. Tax treaties

    If you’re an international student in the U.S., you may be able to benefit from a tax treaty with your home country. Generally, under these tax treaties, residents of foreign countries are taxed at a reduced rate or sometimes even exempt. The IRS has a list of tax treaty countries here. Sprintax can check if you’re eligible for a tax treaty when preparing your tax return.

    Sprintax was created specifically for international students, scholars, teachers and researchers in the U.S. on F, J, M and Q visas, to make tax prep easy.

    Watch our video demo to see how it works:

    To begin filing your U.S. non-resident tax return, get started by creating an account here. 

  • CV Vs Resume-What’s the Difference?

    cv vs resume

    What’s the difference between a CV and a resume?

    Here is what you should know!

     

    CV

    A CV is a detailed document with information on your achievements, experience and any other accomplishments like awards, qualifications and personal achievements. Depending on where you’re applying for a position, it’s either a short summary (UK, Ireland, most commonwealth countries) or a long detailed document with a picture and details of salary. In the US, a CV is mostly used in academic circles and the medical profession with details on education and publications. It contains much more detail than the shorter resume which is usually used for job applications.

     

    Resume

    A resume is a short summary of your professional experience and education and in the US it is substantially shorter than a CV.  For most jobs in the US, you need to apply with a resume, which employers will use to screen candidates and invite successful applicants for interview. This document highlights your professional life and should be around one page in length.  US employers often get a lot of job applicants and don’t want to spend a huge amount of time reading these so it is important to keep it succinct.

     

    Some tips for your US resume:

     

    1. Personal/Contact details

    Put these at the top in the header of the page. Remember to use up as much space as possible on the page-you need to keep it to just one page if possible!

     

    2. Education

    Next section is your education. A reverse chronological order is usually recommended so you can start with the most recent.

    Lay it out in this format:

    Name of University – Location of University – Dates of enrolment

    For example: Columbia University – New York – 2003-2006

     

    3. Experience

    Next up is your employment experience. Unless you have large, unexplained gaps in your career, use the reverse chronological order.

    Use this format:

    Company Name – Location – Date

    For example: Sunshine Communications – Boston, MA- 2006-2010

    Give a brief synopsis of your greatest achievements.  Did you win a great scholarship at university for your hard work? Received an award at work? Write it down, it will help you stand out!

    Good luck!