Archive for February, 2019

  • 5 things every international student can do to be ready for tax season

    Prepare for tax season with Sprintax

    It’s never too early to start thinking about tax season. This is especially true when you consider that the April 15 tax filing deadline is only a matter of weeks away!

    There’s no doubt that, whether you have filed a tax return before, or this is your first year with a filing requirement, tax season can be a real headache.

    In this blog we’ll look at 5 things every international student can do to ensure their tax season runs as smoothly as possible.

    (1) Don’t delay!

    Let’s face it, leaving important stuff until the last minute is never a good idea!

    So why leave filing your tax return until April 15?

    There is no reason why you can’t start prepping for tax season now. And, by doing so, you can ensure that you file on time and receive any tax refund you’re due sooner!

    Sprintax non-resident tax returns

    (2) Determine the right forms to file

    It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) you have earned, every non-resident international student in the US has a tax filing obligation.

    For example, if you didn’t earn any income during the tax year you must file a Form 8843 with the IRS.

    And if you have earned US sourced income during the year, you will also have to file a Federal tax return in addition to your 8843 form.

    Depending on your personal circumstances and a number of other factors, you may also have to file State tax return forms.

    Tip: Sprintax is the only online Federal and State self-prep tax software for non-residents in the US.  We will help you to figure out whether or not you have to file a State tax return.

    (3) Work out your residency status

    This is an important one.

    It’s impossible to file a compliant tax return without first determining your tax residency status.

    The most common tax residency statuses are ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident alien’. Most international students who are studying in the US on F, J, M or Q visas are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes.

    Tip: Not sure if you’re a resident or non-resident? When you create a Sprintax account, our system will automatically detect your tax residency status!

    Preparing for tax season Sprintax

    (4) Get organized

    The first thing you should do to ready yourself for tax season is to organize everything you’ll need to prepare your tax return.

    In order to complete your tax return in full you will need to have the below documents to hand:

    • Your passport
    • Your Visa/Immigration Status information, including Form DS-2019 (for J visa holders) or Form I-20 (for F visa holders)
    • All income forms: W2 forms, 1042-S and/or 1099
    • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you do not have an ITIN, Sprintax can help you get one!
    • A copy of last year’s return (if you filed one with the US tax authorities)

    Tip: Make a note of any missing documents and then start to track them down. For example, if you haven’t received your payment documents, make sure to contact your employer to request them.

    (5) Get help!

     With so much complicated paperwork and so many confusing questions, filing a US tax return is not exactly the easiest of tasks.

    Fortunately, help is on hand!

    When you create a Sprintax account, our system will assist you in preparing fully compliant Federal and State tax returns and also enable you to use any tax deduction and benefits that will allow you to claim your maximum legal tax refund.

    Sprintax will guide you through the tax filing process, firstly determining your tax residency status and then identifying which forms you need to complete based on your own personal circumstances.

    You’ll be asked a few easy questions and based on the information you provide, you will then be able to download your fully completed and compliant 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (non-resident tax return).

    Benefits of using Sprintax

    Sprintax is the ‘go-to’ tax preparation software for numerous major universities in the US including, Columbia, Arizona State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Cornell.  We’re also the non-resident partner of choice for Turbo Tax.

    With Sprintax you can:

    • Save time and stress!
    • Determine your residency status
    • Prepare a fully compliant US tax return
    • Maximize your State tax refund
    • Avail of our 24/7 Vita Qualified Live Chat facility

    Subscribe to the Sprintax Blog!

    US tax can be confusing. Especially for nonresidents!

    That’s why, if you’re an International Student or J-1 participant in the US, or you work in a University International Student Office, you should subscribe to the Sprintax blog.

    You’ll find tons of useful content for nonresidents. We cover tax, student life, acclimatizing to the US and much more.

    So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and never miss a thing!





  • Forget fees! Here’s how you can secure a US college scholarship

    Sprintax services for international scholars!

    Here’s two things most prospective international students know about studying in the US.

    1 – When you study in the United States you can secure a first class qualification that is recognised around the globe

    2 – The US is one of the most expensive countries in the world in which to study

    So how can you reconcile these two factors?

    You want a top quality education and the experience of living and studying in the US. Financing a US university degree is tricky even for most Americans. And as an international student, there is an onus on you to provide proof, in advance of commencing your course, that you can pay for your college studies before you can obtain a student visa to study in the United States.

    But what if you can’t afford the fees?

    Don’t give up hope! There are a number of opportunities you can pursue in order to secure funding for your studies.

    For example, most US universities offer scholarship programmes and many accept applications from international students. In fact, more than 600 American universities offer scholarships worth $20,000 or more to international students.

    Scholarships are generally assessed on either academic merit, financial need, or extracurricular contribution. And there are a number of hoops you will need to jump through in order to apply – this may include taking SAT or ACT tests.

    But when you consider the financial benefits to scholarships it’s definitely worth being determined, persistent and seeing the process through to the end.

    Sprintax scholarship tax services

    Types of International Student Scholarship

    (1) University scholarships

    Most universities offer some kind of financial aid for international students. So if you’re considering applying for a scholarship, it’s a good idea to contact your institution of choice and enquire about the options that are available to you.

    (2) Financial scholarships

    While this type of scholarship is usually only available for US residents, some universities offer financial needs-based scholarships to international students.

    (3) Merit scholarships

    This type of scholarship is available to students who are either academically skilled, gifted at sports or who excelled in community or entrepreneurial work.

    (4) Government-funded scholarships

    The US Government offers many scholarship programmes for international students (a number of which are listed further below).

    (5) Privately-funded scholarships

    Numerous private businesses and donors offer scholarships for international students. Many of these programs are targeted at developing countries and minority groups, or in specific areas of study.

    University Scholarships

    Sprintax Services for US international scholars

    Here are some of the scholarship offerings available from some of the biggest universities in the US. While this is nowhere near a complete list of scholarships, it should help you to get a picture of the type of programs that are available for international students.

    American University in Washington D.C.

    AU offers free tuition and board for one international student for a full four years undergraduate study. Some partial scholarships are also available from the college.

    Berea College

    This university, located in Kentucky, is the only school in the US that provides 100% funding to every international student for their first year of enrolment. This combination of financial aid and scholarships offsets the costs of tuition, room, board, and fees. In subsequent years, international students are expected to save $1,000 per year to contribute toward their expenses. All international students are provided with a paid, on-campus job through the College’s Work Program throughout the academic year. Students may use their wages (about US $2,000 the first year) to cover personal expenses

    Clark University

    Clark offers a range of merit-based grants to international applicants. International students can apply for scholarships valued at $20,000 to $25,000 per year.

    Dartmouth College

    Dartmouth College offers scholarships and loans to international students, which includes an allowance for travel to the US. International applicants must demonstrate financial need at the time of application. When not in class, many international financial aid recipients work for the College. Included in the aid award will be $2,450 estimated annual income from work during academic terms.

    Emory University

    This Atlanta-based college offers generous financial assistance for international students. These financial aid programs are linked to applications. In other words, it is impossible to get rejected for a scholarship but still be offered a place at the university.

    College scholar Sprintax

    Harvard University

    International students are eligible for the same amount of financial aid as US students.

    • 55% of Harvard undergraduates receive need-based scholarships
    • Parents of international students who earn less than $65,000 and are not expected to contribute any fees
    • Two-thirds of students work during the academic year

    Illinois Wesleyan University

    Illinois Wesleyan awards a small number of merit and need-based scholarships for international students in each first-year entering class.

    Merit-based scholarships

    These are offered to qualified international applicants with outstanding academic achievement and test scores on the required entrance exams. These awards range from $10,000 to $25,000 per year and are renewable for up to four years. In some instances, additional help is provided through student loans and campus employment.

    President’s International Student Scholarships

    This is a full-tuition scholarship (renewable for up to four years of study) awarded each year to two highly qualified international students in assessing their talents, interests and academic achievements.

    Need-based Scholarships

    You can also be considered for need-based financial aid. Using the information on your CSS Profile, the college can consider ways to further assist you with University funded scholarships, loans and campus-employment opportunities.

    Iowa State University

    Iowa State University offers scholarships (valued from $2,000 to $10,000 per year) to international students. Applicants are automatically considered for the merit-based award.

    Michigan State University

    MSU boasts a Global Spartan Leadership programme for international undergraduates. Recipients receive $8,000 upon completion of the programme requirements – attendance of various leadership training and cultural events. International students can also write an essay about their experience at the university in order to win a top prize of $1,000.

    University of Minnesota

    The University of Minnesota offers various grants and scholarships for international students including:

    Global Excellence Scholarship

    All international freshman and transfer students who complete their applications for admission by the deadlines are automatically considered for a Global Excellence Scholarship. International freshman can receive scholarships of $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000 per year for up to four years. Transfer students can receive $10,000 per year for up to three years when entering the University in the fall semester (transfer students entering in spring semester will be considered for scholarships on a funds-available basis). Awards are competitive and based on academic merit.

    #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship

    This scholarship recognizes international students who have a vision for enhancing intercultural understanding. The University awards two annual, renewable scholarships covering $15,000 per year.

    Undergraduate Research Scholarship

    New international freshman admitted to the University will also be considered for the Undergraduate Research Scholarship. Recipients receive $1,400 for participation in a faculty sponsored University of Minnesota research project and up to an additional $300 in support of supplies and expenses related to their research project. Undergraduate research at the University spans all academic disciplines and interests. The Undergraduate Research Scholarship allows students to pursue special research projects outside their regular courses.

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers tuition waivers to international students that have outstanding academic performance and contribute to extra-curricular activities.

    New York University

    NYU awards scholarships to international students submitting a first-year application

    University of Oregon

    Every year UO awards more than $2.5 million in financial aid and scholarships to international students. In fact, the college offers several sources of financial aid for international students including:

    Automatic Consideration

    UO Excellence Scholarship ($15,000 per year)

    Awarded to incoming freshmen with a 3.90 GPA or higher on a 4.00 scale and a qualifying test score (1450 SAT or 33 ACT).

    Summit Scholarship ($10,000 per year)

    This is awarded to incoming freshmen with a 3.80 GPA or higher on a 4.00 scale and a qualifying test score (1250 SAT or 26 ACT). The GPA requirement is waived for holders of an official International Baccalaureate diploma.

    Apex Scholarship ($7,500 per year)

    Awarded to incoming freshmen with a 3.60 GPA or higher on a 4.00 scale and a qualifying test score (1220 SAT or 25 ACT). The GPA requirement is waived for holders of an official International Baccalaureate diploma.

    Application-Based

    International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) Tuition Scholarships (partial to full tuition)

    The ICSP scholarship awards tuition-waiver scholarships ranging from partial to full tuition for up to 15 credits per term each year. Scholarships apply to tuition only and are based on financial need, academic merit, and the ability to make presentations to diverse groups of people. The ICSP scholarship has a cultural service component that requires students to give presentations about their home country to children, community organizations, and UO students, faculty, and staff.

    ICSP Nascence Scholarship

    This supplemental scholarship is awarded to a student from China or Hong Kong who is also a recipient of the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) scholarship. No additional application is required.

    Wesleyan University’s Freeman Asian Scholars Programme

    This programme provides full tuition scholarships for a four-year course for 11 exceptionally able Asian students at undergraduate level. Additionally the university also offers assistance to about 30 international students.

    Government-funded and Private US scholarships

    Scholarship tax Sprintax

    The United States Government and private business both offer many scholarship programmes for international students. A selection of these are listed below, though many more scholarship opportunities are available.

    Fulbright Foreign Student Program

    This is one of the most popular government-funded US scholarships for international students.

    Fulbright offers scholarships for graduate students, young professionals and artists to study in the US for one year or more. The program is open to international students who are studying in all fields (except medicine).

    Approximately 4,000 foreign students receive Fulbright scholarships each year.

    Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program

    This is a non-degree scholarship program for international, experienced professionals wishing to undertake 10 months of academic study in the US. Although the funding doesn’t support degree qualifications, students are able to study and develop their knowledge at academic institutions across the US.

    Participants in the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program can enroll in courses in a number of fields including Sustainable Development, Journalism and Communication, Law & Human Rights, Technology Policy and Management, Human Resources, Education, Public Health and more.

    In order to be eligible you’ll need:

    • An undergraduate (first university or Bachelor’s) degree
    • A minimum of five years of full-time, professional experience
    • Limited or no prior experience in the US
    • Demonstrated leadership qualities
    • A record of public service in the community
    • English language ability

    The NextGen Scholarship Fund

    The NextGen Scholarship Fund was created for international students who come to the US with the hopes of obtaining higher education. It’s a scholarship program for students in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia. One annual award (in the amount of $1,000) will be given to a qualified and outstanding high school senior or a current college student at a two-year or four-year college. To qualify for this scholarship, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be an international student enrolled in a US school. Applications are judged on merit and financial need.

    The P.E.O. International Peace scholarship

    The P.E.O. International Peace scholarship awards up to $12,500 to international students who want to study at a graduate level in America.

    The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship

    This programme provides a limited number of scholarships each year for outstanding students from selected developing countries to pursue postgraduate study. The scholarships are 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent loan.

    How to apply for your scholarship

    US international students College tax returns

    Talk to your college of choice or scholarship awarding body

    Most colleges offer scholarship programs specifically for international students attending the institution. Visit the financial aid pages on the website of your school of choice. Alternatively you can call or email the school. By engaging with the institution, you can get a complete picture of what’s required for a particular scholarship application.

    Am I eligible?

    Eligibility for a scholarship depends entirely on the scholarship; there is no general rule of thumb on whether you are eligible for a financial award. For example, some scholarships require that you are from a certain country while others ask that you have a certain grade point average. You will need to do your own research to see if you are eligible for a scholarship. It is advisable to contact your college of choice directly, if you have any questions regarding eligibility.

    How do I apply?

    Similarly to eligibility criteria, there are no universally standardised rules or requirements for scholarship applications. While some just require you to complete an application form, others may require a specially written piece of work, or for you to be pursuing studies in a certain field. If you find a scholarship for which you think that you may be eligible, contact the award administrator for more details on how to apply.

    Are there taxable implications on my Scholarship?

    Yes there might be. If your scholarship only covers tuition there is generally no tax implication. However, if there are elements that cover areas that are not directly related to your tuition then these will generally have tax implications. Some examples of this include housing allowances, food allowances or travel allowances. If your scholarship is taxable, generally you will receive a 1042-S income document to reflect this taxable income earned.

    What should I do with my 1042-S document?

    You will need this document when you are preparing your tax return to outline the taxable income that you earned during the tax year. You can do this on Sprintax in the “Let’s Talk Money” section.

    And remember…

    Scholarship tax Sprintax

    Every international student and scholar in the US has a tax filing requirement.

    Sprintax is the only online self-prep Federal and State tax software for international students in the US.

    Sprintax is also the ‘go-to’ tax preparation software for numerous major universities in the US including Columbia, Arizona State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Cornell. We’re also the non-resident partner of choice for Turbo Tax.

    Prepare with Sprintax! File with confidence!

    • Compliant US tax return
    • Save time and stress!
    • Avail of relevant international tax treaties
    • Avail of personal allowances, credits & tax deductions
    • 24/7 Vita Qualified Live Chat facility
    • Maximize your State tax refund
    • Over 500k people have used Sprintax to prepare their tax return and get their tax refund

    Prepare your US tax return today!

     

     

    Subscribe to the Sprintax Blog!

    US tax can be confusing. Especially for nonresidents!

    That’s why, if you’re an International Student or J-1 participant in the US, or you work in a University International Student Office, you should subscribe to the Sprintax blog.

    You’ll find tons of useful content for nonresidents. We cover tax, student life, acclimatizing to the US and much more.

    So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and never miss a thing!





  • US tax season survival guide – everything you need to know

    US international student tax return

    15 US tax questions answered for international students

    Tax season is fast approaching and every international student in the US must file a tax return by the April 15 deadline.

    But which tax return should you file? Are you entitled to any tax credits or deductions? And what happens if you make a mistake on your tax return?

    Here’s everything you need to know to survive tax season!

    First off, do I have to pay tax in the US?

    Yes! As an international student in the US, you will likely have to pay tax on the following types of income:

    • Wages and compensation
    • Salaries
    • Tips
    • Interest
    • Dividends
    • Some scholarships/fellowship grants
    • Prizes/awards

    N.B. This will depend on your individual circumstances.

    Do I have to file tax forms?

    Yes! Non-resident international students studying in the US must at least file a Form 8843 with the IRS each year, even if you did not earn any income. It’s the law!

    If you’ve earned income during the year, it’s likely that you will also have to file a Federal tax return.

    When you file your tax return you must report all sources of your income to the government – including the tax you have already paid and what you still owe. It’s also an opportunity to claim any deductions that you may qualify for.

    At the end of the process, you calculate the total tax you should have paid. If you paid more than what you owe during the year, you will be entitled to a refund. On the other hand, if you didn’t pay enough, you must pay the difference.

    US tax questions answered Sprintax

    I didn’t earn any income. Do I still have to file tax paperwork?

    Yes. Even if you have not earned any income, if you have spent time in the US as a non-resident alien on an F or J visa, you must complete a Form 8843 and send it to the IRS.

    Which tax form should I file?

    As an international student it’s likely you will fall into the ‘non-resident’ tax category which means that the tax return you need to file is a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Alternatively, if you have not earned any US income, you must complete a Form 8843.

    When is the deadline to file my income tax returns?

    The filing deadline for individual US Federal income tax returns is Monday April 15.

    How can I determine my residency status?

    It’s vital to determine your residency status in order to file a compliant tax return. The most common tax residency statuses are ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident alien’. Most international students who are studying in the US on F, J, M or Q visas are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes. When you prepare your tax return with Sprintax, our software will determine your residency status based on the information that you provide.

    Will the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ affect me?

    The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ has wide ranging effects for all US taxpayers – particularly non-residents such as international students and those in America on a J-1 programme.

    The primary change relates to the removal of what’s known as the ‘personal exemption’. This has lead to overall taxable income increasing for all non-residents.

    Prior to the bill’s introduction, every non-resident who was working in the US was entitled to earn up to $4,050 without paying tax, through the personal exemption. However, the personal exemption was reduced from $4,050 to $0 in January 2018.

    The removal of the personal exemption means that, for some non-residents, Federal tax refunds will be reduced. However, the US has tax treaties with over 65 other countries. International students and scholars can also potentially avail of these tax treaties when applying for their Federal tax refund.

    Sprintax International Student tax returns

    Do I need to file a State tax return?

    Depending on your personal circumstances, you may also have to file a State tax return(s).

    The average State tax refund that Sprintax customers received last year was $328.

    Sprintax can also help you to figure out whether or not you have to file a State tax return. In order to claim your tax refund you will first need to file your tax return.

    What will I need in order to prepare my tax return?

    In order to prepare your US tax return you will need:

    (1) Your residency status

    (2) Your Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

    (3) Your income documents, of which there are 3 main types:

    • A W2 form (officially known as a Wage and Tax Statement) is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form used to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld. You should receive this from your employer at the end of January. It will state the previous year’s earnings and tax withheld
    • The 1042-S is typically sent if you received some form of taxable scholarship from your school or institution, such as, for example a stipend or housing allowance
    • The 1099 is less common, but you may have this if you received rental income, investment income or if you worked as an independent contractor

    What happens if I don’t file a tax return?

    If you don’t file a tax return, you may be subject to penalties and interest.

    The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed for every month your return is late, (up to a maximum of 25%). If you file more than 60 days after the due date, the minimum penalty is $205 or 100% of your unpaid tax, whichever is less.

    Failure to comply with your tax obligations may also result in you being denied a US visa in the future.

    I filed an incorrect tax return last year. What can I do?

    If you discover that you have filed an incorrect tax return, you will need to correct it by filing an amended tax return (generally Form 1040-X). Sprintax can help you prepare your amended tax return.

    Amendments can currently be made for tax returns (1040X) for the 2017 tax year. Sprintax can help you make required amendments to your 2018 tax return from February 2019.

    I should have filed a tax return for last year. Can I file it now?

    Yes, you should file your tax return as soon as possible. Sprintax can help you prepare overdue tax returns.

    What is Sprintax?

    Sprintax is the only online Federal and State self-prep tax software for non-residents in the US.

    When you create a Sprintax account, our system will assist you in preparing fully compliant Federal and State tax returns and also enable you to use any tax deduction and benefits that will allow you to maximize your legal tax refund.

    Sprintax is also the ‘go-to’ tax preparation software for numerous major universities in the US including, Columbia, Arizona State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Cornell. 

    Easy US non-resident tax

    How can Sprintax help me?

    When you create your Sprintax account you’ll be asked a few easy questions. Once you complete the short form, based on the information you provided, you will then be able to download your fully completed and compliant 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (non-resident tax return).

    With Sprintax you can:

    • Save time and stress!
    • Determine your residency status
    • Prepare a fully compliant US tax return
    • Maximize your State tax refund
    • Avail of our 24/7 Vita Qualified Live Chat facility

    Can I file my tax return with Turbo Tax?

    Turbo Tax offer a service for US tax residents. Most international students are considered non-resident for tax purposes and so can’t file their tax return with Turbo Tax. Sprintax is the non-resident partner of choice for Turbo Tax.

    Join the more than 250,000 people who have prepared their US tax return with Sprintax!

    Subscribe to the Sprintax Blog!

    US tax can be confusing. Especially for nonresidents!

    That’s why, if you’re an International Student or J-1 participant in the US, or you work in a University International Student Office, you should subscribe to the Sprintax blog.

    You’ll find tons of useful content for nonresidents. We cover tax, student life, acclimatizing to the US and much more.

    So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and never miss a thing!