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  • It’s time to talk about Community College

    Community College Sprintax

    5 reasons why the two year route could be right for you

     

    You’ve made up your mind.

    You want to study in the US.

    But what’s your next step?

    Well many students in your position will research available courses in the many prestigious American Universities.

    But getting into these Universities can be tricky. And the tuition fees can be astronomical.

    So what can you do?

    There is one option you should consider before you make the final decision on where you’re going to study.

    Community College.

    Roughly one in five of all international undergraduate students in the US study at a Community College. That adds up to almost 100,000 students.

    International students find that there are numerous benefits to enrolling at a Community College such as reduced fees, smaller class sizes and one-on-one assistance.

    Additionally, studying at a Community College doesn’t mean limited options (as some might lead you to believe). On the contrary.

    Students can study diverse topics and find virtually limitless opportunities to learn and further their education at four year Universities if desired.

    5 reasons why you should consider enrolling in a Community College

    International Student US tax return Sprintax

    A Community College is a higher education institution that primarily serves its surrounding community.

    There are over a thousand Community Colleges in the United States and most offer a variety of degrees or certificates that prepare both domestic and international students for the working world.

    There are many differences between Community Colleges and Universities. Perhaps the most obvious is the duration of degrees offered.

    Typically Courses at Community Colleges take two years to complete, while the duration is often four years at Universities.

    While many Community Colleges do not carry the prestige of their four-year counterparts, there are still many advantages to choosing the two year route.

    Here are just five reasons every international student should consider enrolling in a US Community College.

    (1) Tuition fees

    Community College is certainly a good option for students who are budget conscious.

    One of the main advantages of enrolling in a Community College is the reduced tuition fees.

    Fees for international students at traditional four-year Universities can cost upwards of $40,000 per year. But at Community Colleges, fees are often closer to $10,000 per College year.

    Many students aim to use Community College as a stepping-stone before finishing their degree at a University. Since Community College tuition is more affordable than a traditional four-year University, spending the first two years of a course at a Community College is a great way to save money.

    (2) Options

    As outlined above, international students who enroll in Community Colleges have lots of options.

    Firstly, you could choose to complete your course before seeking out opportunities in the working world.

    Or you could use the course as a springboard toward further education.

    At traditional four year Universities, students usually spend their first two years taking general education requirements such as math or history.

    This means that during the first two years of University, regardless of what you study, you’ll be required to take the same general education requirements.

    It will not be until your third and fourth year that you will focus on the requirements which are more specific to your chosen degree program.

    This is why many international students choose to do the two years of general educational requirements at a Community College before transferring to a traditional University to complete their degree.

    What’s more, Community Colleges and Universities often develop special agreements for the transfer of credits and degrees between the institutions.  Some Community Colleges even have programs that guarantee students’ admission to a four-year institution.

    (3) Campus size

    Another big difference between Community Colleges and Universities is campus size.

    Universities are usually much larger than Community Colleges. In fact, some Universities have over a hundred thousand students. Normally Community Colleges do not come near that level of student population.

    Catching your bearings and finding your way around is much easier on a smaller campus. And with a reduced student population, it will be easier to get to know fellow students and make friends!

    Community College Sprintax tax return

    (4) Student faculty ratio

    The ratio of students to faculty members is also smaller at Community Colleges.

    Why is this a positive?

    Class sizes tend to be small. During the course of your studies you may require some face time with a teacher or professor. You are much more likely to get it at a Community College.

    This will enable you to ask more questions and get the support you need.

    (5) Cutting edge fields

    Smaller class sizes can be highly beneficial for international students as they adjust to the pace of US academic life and practice their English-language skills.

    They can also be advantageous when you are studying subjects in certain cutting-edge fields such as biomedical technology, robotics and internet and computer technologies etc.

    10 of the best Community Colleges for international students

    Half of international students in US Community Colleges choose an institution in either California, Texas, Florida, Washington state or New York state.

    Below are the top 10 Community Colleges for international students (based on foreign student populations).

    1Houston Community College

    Where – Houston, Texas

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 5,982

    Houston

    2Santa Monica College

    Where – Santa Monica, California

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 3,532

    3Lone Star College

    Where – The Woodlands, Texas

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 3,025

    4De Anza College

    Where – Cupertino, California

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 2,792

    5Northern Virginia Community College

    Where – Annadale, Virginia

    Number of international students in 2016-2017 – 2,027

    6Miami Dade College

    Where – Miami, Florida

    Number of international students in 2016-2017 – 1,995

    Miami International Student tax returns Sprintax

    7Montgomery College

    Where – Rockville, Maryland

    Number of international students in 2016-2017 – 1,933

    8 Green River College

    Where – Auburn, Washington

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 1,789

    9Valencia College

    Where – Orlando, Florida

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 1,764

    10Diablo Valley

    Where – Pleasant Hill, California

    Number of international students in 2016/17 – 1,641

    Sprintax can help Community College students

    Regardless of where you choose to study, every international in the US is legally obliged to file a tax return each year.

    Sprintax is the only online self-prep tax software for international students in the US. It will help you prepare your fully compliant US tax return in minutes!

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

    File with Sprintax! File with confidence!

    • Compliant US tax return
    • Save time and stress!
    • Determine your residency status
    • 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.

    File your tax return here

  • The international students’ guide to US cell phones and plans

    How international students can stay connected in the US

    Moving to the US to study is undoubtedly exciting. But it can also be extremely daunting for many students.

    However, with phones, laptops and tablets, the world has never been more connected than it is today.

    So just because you leave your home country doesn’t mean you have to lose touch with your friends and family.

    When you move to the US you’ll have to get used to a new set of cell phone plan offerings.

    And with so many options, picking the right plan can get confusing.

    So with this in mind we’ve created a useful guide to staying connected when you move to the US.

    Bringing your phone to the US

    Many modern models of phones do work internationally. However, it does depend on the type of technology your phone uses. If you live in Europe, Africa or parts of Asia, it’s likely that your phone uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). This is not the most common system used in the US (although certain providers such as AT&T and T-Mobile do use it).

    Willmyphonework.net is a useful tool to use if you’re confused as to whether or not your phone will work in the US.

    Still, even if your phone does work, it’s probably not the best idea to use your current provider as it will likely be expensive and you may want to have a local number.

    The solution is to get your hands on an American SIM card and sign up to a cell phone plan.

    You might be considering treating yourself to a new phone to kick off your US experience with a bang!

    But if you would prefer to use your current phone, it’s important to ensure that it’s ‘unlocked’ when joining a US plan.

    Phone plans on offer

    It’s always a good idea to shop around and choose the most suitable phone plan option for you.

    Fortunately, sites like Whistleout.com have compiled and compared the offerings of over 50 companies in one place for your convenience.

    We’ve picked out some of the best value phone plan options below.

    Provider: FreedomPop

    Plans: What’s better than free? With FreedomPop you can get 200 talk minutes, 500 text messages and 500MB of high-speed data each month for FREE! Nowadays, it seems that most college campuses, bars, restaurants and shopping centres have good Wi-Fi availability. But if you’d prefer to upgrade your data allowance, FreedomPop have plans that go as high as 4GB per month for $34.99.

    What’s more, international students can avail of 100 free minutes a month to call over 50 countries.

    Provider: Simple Mobile

    Plans:  Their $25 a month plan includes unlimited calling, texting and 3GB of high speed data. If you would prefer higher data caps, they have plans going up to ‘truly unlimited’ for $60.

    Simple Mobile is a good option for international students because it includes international texting and calling to a number of countries like Mexico, Canada, China and India. And, for other countries, customers can access low rates by adding a global calling card.

    Provider: Tracfone

    Plans: For students on a budget or those who do not need to use their phones much, this is a good option. Plans start at $15 per month. The company also offers a reliable service using the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks. Plus, if you’re not happy with the offering you can cancel anytime. There are no contracts.

    Provider: Total Wireless

    Plans: This is a good option for international students with moderate data needs. By paying $35 a month you can get a plan which includes unlimited call and text, plus 5GB of high-speed data. And you can add another 3GB of high-speed data for $10.

    Provider: Verizon

    Plans: Verizon is one of the leading providers in the US. Plans range from $40 to $80 a month. All of these include unlimited talk and text. Students can either opt for the U unlimited plan or other more inexpensive options such as S for 2GB, M for 4GB, and L for 8GB cell phone plan. They also have plans with unlimited talk, text and 3GB of high speed data.

    Provider: StraightTalk

    Plans: StraightTalk offer a variety of plans ranging from $30 to $60 per month. With the $30 plan you can avail of 100MB of data with unlimited texts and 1,500 minutes. However, the $60 option may be more attractive for international students. With this deal you’ll receive 10GB of data and unlimited worldwide calls and texts.

    Provider: Republic Wireless

    Plans: There are a range of affordable plans here. For $20 you can receive unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data. For every GB of data you add to your plan there is an additional $5 charge (up to a total monthly price of $90).

    Provider: T-Mobile Prepaid

    Plans: There are numerous plans to choose from here. You can even get a talk and text plan starting at $3 per month. Perhaps the best value option, however, is the unlimited talk, text, and up to 10GB of 4G data offering. This will set you back $40 per month.

    Keeping your phone bill down

    How can you keep regular contact with your friends and family back home without driving your cell phone bill through the ceiling?

    Most college campuses, cafes and other public places offer free and reliable WI-FI connection. And by using free apps like Skype or Whatsapp, you can call or message your family and friends without eating into your monthly data allowance or driving up your phone bill.

    Now that you’ve got your phone plan sorted…

    It’s time to talk about tax!

    Every international in the US is legally obliged to file a tax return.

    Sprintax is the only online self-prep tax software for international students in the US. It will help you prepare your fully compliant US tax return in minutes!

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

    File with Sprintax! File with confidence!

    • Compliant US tax return
    • Save time and stress!
    • Determine your residency status
    • 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.

    File your US tax return here.

     

     

  • Can the college I choose to enroll in effect my US tax bill?

    State tax refunds Sprintax

    Want to work while studying in the US? It’s important to be aware that tax rates differ greatly from State-to-State

    Every year, more and more students select the US as the destination in which they want to continue their education. And it’s easy to see why. The US boasts a world renowned university system and an outstanding program offering in virtually all fields.

    But with so many universities in such a vast country, how can students choose the college and course that is right for them?

    The truth is that there are many different factors that go into deciding where to study and which college to attend. While lifestyle, history and climate are always important elements for students, cost and financing college fees usually come out on top of their list of considerations.

    Expenses and college fees vary from State-to-State and can have a big impact when choosing where to study.

    Even though many US colleges and universities make financial aid and scholarships available, most international students must still rely on their own sources of funds in order to pay for their education – family funds, loans and savings etc.

    It’s no surprise then that so many international students are interested in securing employment in the US during their time in college in order to earn some much needed cash.

    These programs are known as ‘work & study’. If you are a full-time student in the US and want to be a member of a work & study program, you must either have an F-1 or M-1 visa – the two non-immigrant visa categories available for international students.

    Sprintax state tax refunds

    International students & tax

    Every international student is legally obliged to file a tax return for each year they were in the US. If you worked in the US during your time in college you must detail your earnings on your tax return.

    Many students are unaware that the State they choose to work in can affect their monthly tax withholding.

    In the US, taxes withheld on wages by employers include Federal income tax, State income tax, and certain other levies by a few States.

    While Federal tax withholding is required no matter which State you choose, not all States have an income tax on earned income. There are nine States that have no personal income tax:

    1. Alaska
    2. Florida
    3. Nevada
    4. New Hampshire
    5. South Dakota
    6. Tennessee
    7. Texas
    8. Washington
    9. Wyoming

    Note: Tennessee and New Hampshire only tax dividends and interest.

    This means that if you chose to study and work in one of the States mentioned above, you will have one less tax deduction to worry about!

    In other words, you can potentially receive a higher wage every pay period.

    State tax refunds

    California state tax refunds Sprintax

    If you do study and work in a State where there are State tax deductions, it’s important to note that it’s likely you’ll be entitled to a refund of a significant portion of your contributions.

    You can claim your refund when you file your end of year tax return.

    But does the State that you study in have any effect on the amount of money you’ll be refunded?

    The answer to that question is yes!

    At Sprintax we help hundreds of thousands of international students to file their tax returns and claim their State tax refund every year.

    We’ve crunched the numbers and can reveal, as detailed below, that, in 2017, students who studied and worked in California received a larger State tax refund ($1015) than anywhere else in the US!

    Top 10 average State tax refunds

    top 10 state tax refunds Sprintax

    Claiming your State tax refund

    The easiest way to file your US tax return and claim your State tax refund is to choose Sprintax.

    Sprintax is the only online Federal and State self-prep tax software for international students and non-residents in the US. It will help you prepare your US tax return in minutes and enable you to receive your maximum legal tax refund!

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

    To file your US tax return the easy way, get started here!

  • Form 8843. What is it? And how do I file it?

    File your US tax return the easy way with Sprintax

    There are three things that every US international student and J-1 visa holder needs to know about American tax.

    1 – Every US international student and J-1 visa holder has a tax filing requirement

    2 – It doesn’t matter if you have earned income. You must still file your documents before the deadline

    3 – The IRS takes this stuff seriously! In other words, if you don’t comply with your tax obligations, you may encounter complications when applying for US visas in the future

    Regardless of whether you have earned income during your time in the US, you will still need to file what’s known as a Form 8843.

    This blog will focus on exactly what you need to do in order to file this form and remain complaint with the IRS.

    Sprintax US tax form 8843

    First things first. What is a Form 8843?

    The first thing you should know about Form 8843 is that it’s not a tax return. Instead, it’s a statement you file if you are a certain type of non-resident alien (including spouses/dependents of certain non-resident aliens).

    Who should file a Form 8843?

    All non-residents aliens who are in the US on F-1, J-1 or J-2 visas are required to file a Form 8843. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t earn any income, you must still file this form.

    How can I fill out this form?

    There are a number of sections in this form. However, not all of them will be relevant to you. It depends on your personal circumstances.

    Part 1

    file Form 8843 with Sprintax

    In part 1 of your Form 8843 you will need to include the following information:

    • Your personal details (as they appear on your passport)
    • Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) – if you have one
    • Your visa type: (F-1, J-1, etc)
    • Your current non-immigrant status
    • The number of days you were present in the US in the last 3 years
    • The number of days you were present in the US in the relevant tax year (enter this in the substantial presence test box)

    File your Form 8843 the easy way!

    Part 2

    Form 8843 Sprintax

    In part 2, teachers and trainees are required to include details of what academic institution or programme you were involved in during the previous year.

    Parts 3, 4 & 5

    file US tax with Sprintax

    File US tax forms with Sprintax

    F-1 and J-1 visa holders should, in part 3:

    • Include details of your academic institution or programme
    • and answer the rest of the questions according to your personal circumstances

    The majority of students in the US on F or J non-immigrant status will not need to fill in parts 4 and 5.

    What is the deadline for filing a Form 8843?

    You must file your Form 8843, along with any tax return that is due, by the 15 April deadline.

    International students and scholars – file your tax return before the April 15th deadline

    Do I have to file any other tax documents?

    If you get a job in the US, you’ll need to fill out a W-4 Form so your employer knows what income should be withheld from your wages as taxes.

    Similarly if you received a grant, scholarship or stipend, some of this may be classified as income and have tax implications. At the end of the tax year, you will need to prove that you’ve paid the correct amount by filing your tax return.

    If you earned income in the US you must file a tax return – Form 1040NR/Form 1040 NR-EZ – as well as Form 8843.

    What’s the easiest way to file my tax documents?

    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.

    Plus, if you have any questions, our Vita Qualified Live Chat team are on hand to help 24/7!

    File your US tax documents the easy way today!

  • Introducing Sprintax TDS…

     

    All of your questions answered

     

    Tax. Granted, not the most exciting topic in the world. But its importance can never be called into question.

    Over recent years the proper documentation and withholding of payments to non-resident students and scholars has become an increasingly important issue for US educational institutions.

    How much tax should an international student being paying? Are they entitled to any reliefs or deductions? Who can help them handle their US tax?

    Finally there is an easy to manage, easy to use solution which makes US tax easy for international students.

    Sprintax, the only online self-prep tax software for non-residents and J-1 visa holders in the US, is launching a Tax Determination System (TDS) – a hassle-free tool which will help non-residents to pay the correct amount of tax.

    Sprintax TDS ensures that students and scholars are taxed correctly on income earned in the US, so that the correct amount of tax is withheld from their earnings and reported to the IRS.

    Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

    Who can use Sprintax TDS?

    Sprintax TDS is available for use by foreign students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and all other international visitors with F, M, J, Q, H and L visas.

    How does it work?

    All students and scholars have to do to get started is quickly complete our online questionnaire. TDS will take care of the rest!

    Based on the information a student provides, Sprintax TDS will calculate student and scholar tax withholding and determine whether they’re eligible for tax treaties or deductions. It will then prepare the necessary tax documents for students, such as 1042-S, 8233, W-8Ben, etc.

    How is this tool useful for US educational institutions?

     Sprintax TDS:

    • Calculates tax withholding for non-resident international students, scholars, and professionals
    • Determines residency for tax purposes
    • Calculates tax withholding rates
    • Generates tax forms such as 1042-S, W-4, and W-8Ben, etc.
    • Documents and securely stores student tax information
    • Tax treaties built-in
    • Simple school and student interfaces

    Is Sprintax TDS easy to use?

    Sprintax TDS highlights the tax status of your international students and scholars on a user-friendly administrator dashboard, and identifies how they should be taxed on income from your institution. TDS can also link to Sprintax Tax Preparation where students can prepare their tax returns upon completing their TDS account.

    Why should your international students try Sprintax TDS?

    Let’s face it. Tax is confusing.

    It’s hard enough coming to terms with the tax system in their own country. Then, when an international student moves to the US, they have to become familiar with a completely new tax system.

    Sprintax TDS makes managing tax easy for international students in the US.

    So why not give it a try?!

    Contact us today to schedule a FREE Demo

     

  • Using TurboTax to Claim Your J1 Tax Refund is Illegal

    Testimonial image for Sprintax

    It’s hard to imagine anything worse than the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) sniffing around after your J1 experience of a lifetime.

    But this is exactly what can happen if you file an inaccurate US tax return.

    If you worked in the US on a J1 visa, then chances are you are legally obliged to file your US tax return by the Apr 15 deadline.

    So for example, if you’re on a J1 in 2018, then you should file your tax return by April 15 2019. If you file your US taxes correctly, you won’t run into any trouble later on. This is important if you ever wish to return to the US on another visa or for a holiday.

    If you go the US on a J1 visa, you’ll be considered a non-resident for tax purposes and must file as a non-resident.

    TurboTax logoResidents in the US can prepare and file their US taxes with the country’s biggest online tax preparation service, TurboTax . TurboTax guides US residents on their taxes and guarantees them maximum refunds. TurboTax offers an excellent online service that helps millions of US residents prepare their taxes and claim refunds. It’s super easy to use, however TurboTax is a service for US residents only, so it’s not suitable for you if you’ve been to the US on a J1 visa. Sprintax is TurboTax’s preferred partner for non-residents on a J1 visa.

    However, TurboTax is a service for US residents only.

    And as a J1 student you’ll typically be considered non-resident for tax purposes.

    If you do use TurboTax to file your US taxes, then you’ll end up filing as a resident. As a non-resident J1 visa-holder, this means your tax return will be inaccurate and you could get into trouble later on!

    trouble meme

    As a J1 visa-holder, you should NOT file as a resident.

    TurboTax and any other resident tax preparation service for residents will assume you understand your residency status, so if you file with them, you may unwittingly file as a resident. And if you file inaccurately, the IRS could come knocking and you may be subject to fines and penalties.

    One such J1 participant, finance student Sofia García from Venezuela felt the strong-arm of the IRS when she filed as a resident through TurboTax:

     

    From May to September 2017, Sofia worked as a busser, clearing tables at The Surf Lodge in Montauk New York. A friend pointed her to TurboTax as the perfect solution for filing her taxes. Unfortunately, Sofia went ahead and filed using TurboTax despite being non-resident for tax purposes.

    A few months down the line and back in Venezuela, she got a letter from the IRS asking her to confirm her identity.

    Had Sofia prepared her tax return with non-resident tax partner of TurboTax, Sprintax, her US taxes would have been filed without incident. She also wouldn’t have to wait to claim her tax refund. For example the average state tax refund for New York State is currently 464.18.

    Sofia came to us for help so we proceeded with an amendment of her US tax return, which could now take the IRS 6 months or longer to process, meaning she’ll have to wait a lot longer for any long due refunds.

    She won’t be making that mistake again!

     

    So if I file an inaccurate tax return, will I get into trouble?

    Claiming a refund you are not entitled to is considered tax evasion, which is a crime.

    If you’re caught you may have to pay penalties and interest. You may also have trouble re-entering the US or applying for a green card.

    It doesn’t matter if you do it yourself or another company does it for you, if a fraudulent tax return is filed on your behalf, it is you that will be held responsible.

    And the worst part is you may not even be aware any laws were broken.

    ‘’Not knowing’’ isn’t considered a valid excuse by the IRS.

    So one of the most important things is to ensure you file using the correct tax status and if you’re using a tax preparer, use a reputable one like Sprintax.

     

    You could be claiming reliefs, exemptions, and credits you’re not entitled to!

    If you file as a resident, then you may end up claiming certain reliefs, exemptions or credits you’re not entitled to. This could result in a bigger refund. However, as a non-resident you won’t be entitled to many of these and must repay them to the IRS if they demand it.

    This could leave you with a hefty tax bill.

    The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is a good example of this. We’ve come across cases where some J1 students incorrectly claim this credit as a ‘’$1000 bonus’’.

    However, if someone says you can claim this as a non-resident J1 participant, this is false.

    The AOTC is only available under strict conditions.

    A J1 visa holder can’t avail of AOTC unless in their 6th year for students or 3rd year for all other categories in the US and considered a resident for tax purposes. You must also be studying the US.

    If you claim it incorrectly, you’ll end up owing money to the IRS and it could affect future visa applications.

     

    If I file an inaccurate tax return, what happens if there’s an audit?

    The IRS can audit your taxes any time within a 3 year time limit after you file your tax return. Most people find the prospect of an audit to be stressful.

    So the more help you get, the better.

    If you get selected for an audit and you run into issues. Sprintax.com can help you file an amendment of your US tax return.

     

    How do I avoid issues with the IRS?

    The easiest way to file your non-resident taxes and stay on the right side of the IRS is to file with Sprintax.

    As an authorised partner of TurboTax, Sprintax J1 tax preparation is specifically designed for non-residents filing US taxes. Sprintax is a self-prep service, meaning you can create an account here and prepare your federal and state tax return by answering a few simple questions online.

    Here is how it works:

    1. You create a Sprintax account here
    2. Answer some simple questions
    3. Upload any required docs, such as your W2 form
    4. We prepare your fully compliant federal/state tax return(s)
    5. You pay an online fee of $35.95 for Federal Return or $25.95 for a State Return
    6. We give you instructions on where to send your tax return
    7. You print and send (file it) with the IRS as per our instructions

    It’s also essential here that you answer each question honestly!

     

    What’s the benefit of filing my tax return?

    100% compliance is probably the most important benefit of filing an accurate tax return.

    And if you’re due a refund it’s a bonus!

    Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, it’s now more important than ever to file your US tax return.

    As of 1 January 2018 (and up to 2025) the personal exemption was reduced from $4,050 to $0 which means that the overall taxable income has increased for all non-residents.

    So if you work in the US from 2018, you must file a tax return, no matter how much you earn. And if you worked there in previous years, you should file to find out how much you could claim!

    The removal of the personal exemption also means that for most non-residents, federal tax refunds will be reduced.

    It’s important to note that these amendments don’t affect 2017 (and previous years). So if you worked in the US before 2018, you could be due a federal tax refund.

    The average US refund is currently $800.

    The changes do not impact your state refund, no matter what year you’re filing for.

    To claim your state tax refund you must file your federal tax return first, before you file your state.

    Bottom line?

    You’re legally required to file a tax return and there’s a chance you’ll be due a tax refund.

     

    What now?

    Well if you worked in the US in 2017 or previous years, then you should file your tax return as soon as possible. You may have missed the deadline but if you’re due a refund, you can still claim this money.

    If you work in the US in 2018, then the deadline for filing is April 15 2019.

    The easiest way to file is by using Sprintax.

    Our tax preparation service for non-residents will help you prepare your federal and state tax returns in minutes and guide you through the filing process.

    With Sprintax you get:

    • A 100% compliant US tax return
    • Check for residency status
    • Any applicable tax treaties to lower any tax liability or increase your refund
    • Avail of personal allowances, credits & tax deductions
    • 24 hour live chat help
    • Claim any tax refunds due

    Over 500,000 non-residents who worked in the US have already used Sprintax.

    Get peace of mind and create your account here now to start preparing your US tax return.

  • Revealed: over 125k filed their US tax return with Sprintax in 2018!

    Sprintax international students US tax returns

    Every international student who studied in the US in 2017 was required to file a tax return ahead of the April 2018 deadline.

    A lot of international students find US tax to be very daunting. So filing a compliant tax return on time is, for many, no easy feat.

    Just think of it.

    It’s hard enough to come to terms with the tax system in your own country. But then, when you move to the US to study, you have to handle the US tax system too!

    Thankfully a solution is on hand.

    The easiest way for any international student to file a US tax return is to choose Sprintax.

    Sprintax is the only online tax-preparation software for non-resident in the US.

    The software assists students in preparing fully compliant Federal and State tax returns and retrieve their maximum legal tax refund. And all of this can be done in just a matter of minutes!

    1,500 universities

    Sprintax is the ‘go-to’ tax filing software for numerous major universities in the US including NYU, Columbia, Arizona State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Cornell. In fact, we have helped students from over 1,500 schools and institutions from all across the US to file their tax return.

    Sprintax is also the non-resident partner of choice for Turbo Tax*.
    *See more: https://intuit.me/2Mb2TyZ & https://intuit.me/2nBD2BK 

    What are the benefits of using Sprintax?

    • Online US tax prep solution for international students and scholars
    • Save time and stress
    • Prepare a compliant US tax return
    • Maximize your State tax refund
    • 24/7 Vita Qualified Live Chat facility
    • Over 500,000 returns prepared

    Tax Report 2018

    Today we are happy to introduce our ‘Tax Report 2018’.

    Key findings from the report:

    • 125,000 international students (from 1,500 universities) chose Sprintax in order to prepare their 2017 US tax return
    • We delivered $86m in tax refunds to our customers
    • 87% of our customers would recommend Sprintax to their friends

    See the full tax report below.

    Sprintax international student tax returns US

    Sprintax for international student US tax returns

    US tax returns for international students Sprintax

    Filing US tax returns for international students Sprintax

    File your US tax return with confidence! File with Sprintax!

     

  • When can I expect my tax refund?

    Sprintax US tax

    How long does it take the IRS to process an international student tax return?

     

    Have you ever wondered what happens to your tax return after you mail it to the IRS? Or how long it takes for the tax office to process your return?

    You’re not alone.

    Many international students file their tax returns as quickly as they can in order to receive their tax refund as soon as possible.

    Yet once you mail your return, it can often seem like there is a long wait before you receive your refund.

    So why is this?

    In this blog you’ll find details on exactly what happens when you mail your tax return to the IRS.

    Still haven’t filed your tax return? Just complete the registration form here to get started.

    What happens after I mail my return to the IRS?

    When you finalize your return and mail it to the tax office it will usually take several days to arrive at its destination.

    Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for something to go wrong with mail processing. For example, if you used insufficient postage your return can get sent back to you which will cause delays in receiving your refund.

    If you are mailing your tax return from outside the US, it will take even longer before it reaches the tax office. Tip: It’s always a good idea to mail your return using a certified mail service or an approved delivery service that will provide you with a tracking number of the letter and proof of your mailing date.

    US tax refund sprintax

    Once your return reaches the IRS it will have to pass through three stages before you receive the refund:

    1. Return Received/ Accepted – This status updates you that your return was successfully received by the IRS and is in line to be reviewed and processed. Usually it will take the IRS from 4 to 6 weeks to process a paper filed return. At this stage of the refund process, the IRS checks your return for math errors, verifies that your filing status matches your exemptions, checks how you’ve calculated your itemized deductions, and if you are legally entitled to any claimed dependents and credits.
    2. Refund Approved – This status means that your return was processed successfully and the refund amount shown on your tax return was approved by the IRS. At this stage your refund will be set for release either by electronic transfer or printed on a check and mailed to you via United States Postal Service, depending how you chose to receive your refund when filing your taxes.
    3. Refund Sent – This status indicates that your refund has been sent to you. It’s important to note that if you’ve requested to receive your refund deposited to your account, it could take approximately five days after they’ve sent it before it reaches you. This is because banks vary in how and when they credit funds. It could take several weeks before you receive a mailed refund check. In most cases, an approximate date to expect your refund to arrive will be indicated.

    Claim your refund with Sprintax here!

    How can I check the status on my refund?

    The IRS recommends using its online ‘Where’s My Refund’ tool (or the mobile app IRS2Go). The tool is updated once daily, usually overnight, so you don’t need to check it more often.

    You can use ‘Where’s My Refund’ to start checking on the status of your return within four weeks after you’ve mailed your paper return. The tool has a tracker that displays progress through the three stages of processing:

    • Return Received
    • Refund Approved
    • Refund Sent

    You will get personalized refund information based on the processing stage of your tax return – it follows your tax return from receipt to completion. The tool will provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund.

    US tax refund Sprintax

    What information will I need to check my refund status?

    When checking the status of your refund you’ll need to have the following elements:

    • Your SSN/ITIN as shown on your Federal tax return. If you recently applied for an ITIN, you will need to wait for your ITIN notice in order to check your refund status online
    • Your filing status (as indicated at the top of your 1040NR/EZ, Filing status section)
    • The exact dollar amount of the refund as shown on your federal return

    Still haven’t filed? Prepare your return with Sprintax today!

    Note: If you’re requesting a refund of tax withheld on a Form 1042-S by filing a Form 1040NR, the IRS will need additional time to process the return. You should allow up to six months from the original due date of the 1040NR return, or the date you actually filed the 1040NR, (whichever is later) to receive any refund due.

    Is there another way to check the status of my refund?

    Yes. You can also call the IRS TeleTax System at (800) 829-4477 or the IRS Refund Hotline at (800) 829-1954.

    The IRS typically accepts calls Monday through Friday from 7am to 7pm (local time).

    Tip: If you decide to call the IRS, be prepared to be on hold for a while. In fact, the IRS says wait times average 15 minutes during filing season (January to April), with Mondays and Tuesdays being the busiest days. After filing season (May to December), waits can be even longer, averaging 27 minutes.

    Claim your refund with Sprintax here!

    What about the status of my State refund?

    Each State tax office follows a similar processing procedure. You can check the status of your State tax refund using the online refund status tools on each State’s website.

    More detail on how you can check the status of your State refund can be found here.

    Sprintax US tax refund

    I’ve left the US and am having difficulties receiving my refund, what can I do?

    If you have left the US, for example after completing your college course or J-1 program, you may encounter some obstacles when trying to get your hands on your tax refund.

    The main reason for this is that cashing an American cheque outside the US can often be tricky.

    Sprintax can handle the cheque cashing process for you and transfer your money to your bank account anywhere in the world.

    What’s more, should the IRS request additional information before processing your tax return, Sprintax can handle all of the additional communication with the IRS on your behalf.

    Claim your US tax refund the easy way! Get started with Sprintax here.

     

  • 5 things every J-1 participant needs to know about US tax

    Tax for J-1 students
    • What President Trump’s ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ means for J-1 visa holders
    • Understanding J-1 tax obligations and entitlements
    • Sprintax – the easy way to file a J-1 tax return!

     

    When President Donald Trump introduced his ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ in November 2017, many J-1 visa holders and international students in the US were left feeling extremely confused.

    ‘How does this bill affect me?’ ‘Do I have to file a tax return?’ ‘Can I still get a tax refund?’

    A lot of questions were left unanswered.

    Today we are here to answer these questions! If you’re going on a J-1 trip to the US simply follow this guide and you’ll be able to keep the IRS (the American tax authority) happy while receiving any US tax back you are due.

    So without further ado, here’s 5 things every J-1 participant needs to know about US tax

    Short on time? Check out our video summary instead!

    (1) Yes, you have to file a tax return!

    First things first. Every J-1 visa holder in the US must file a tax return at the end of the tax year. It’s the law!

    Prior to President Trump’s bill there were a limited number of circumstances in which a J-1 holidaymaker would not be required to file a tax return.

    This is no longer the case however, and one of the conditions of the J-1 visa is that the visa holder files a tax return.

    Filing a return          

    There are a number of ways to file a tax return.

    For starters, you could file your return directly with the IRS.

    But, for many J-1 students, filing a tax return is an extremely confusing, complicated and frankly boring task!

    The fastest, easiest and best way to prepare your US tax return is to choose Sprintax. More on this below!

    Not filing a return

    Not filing a j-1 tax return

    If you don’t file a tax return after your J-1 program, you may be subject to penalties and interest.

    The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed amount 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.

    What is a tax residency status?

    It’s vital to determine your residency status in order to file a compliant tax return.

    The majority of J-1 visa holders are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes by the IRS.

    When you prepare your tax return with Sprintax, our software will determine your residency status based on the information that you provide.

    Prepare your tax return with Sprintax

    (2) What do Trump’s changes mean for J-1 students

    J-1 program and tax

    The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ has wide ranging effects for all US taxpayers – but particularly for those venturing to the States to study, for an internship or to work and travel.

    As most of these changes were activated in January 2018, it’s vital that all non-residents understand their US tax obligations and entitlements.

    The primary change for non-residents relates to what’s known as the ‘personal exemption‘.

    Prior to the bill’s introduction, every non-resident who was working in the US was entitled to a personal exemption of $4,050. In other words, if you were working in the US on a J-1 visa in 2017 you could earn up to $4,050 without paying tax. The personal exemption was also the main means that non-residents could use to get their Federal tax refund.

    However, as of 1 January 2018 (and up to 2025) the personal exemption was reduced from $4,050 to $0. The removal of the personal exemption means that overall taxable income has increased for all non-residents.

    It’s important to note that these amendments do not affect the 2017 (and previous) tax return filing season. So, if you were working in the US on a J-1 visa in 2017, you can still avail of the personal exemption.

    Prepare your tax return with Sprintax

    (3) You could still be entitled to a tax refund

    J-1 refund

    The removal of the personal exemption means that, for most non-residents, Federal tax refunds will be reduced. From the 2018 tax year onwards, the only reason a non-resident will be entitled to a Federal tax refund is if too much tax is deducted from their income.

    However, even if you’re not entitled to a Federal tax refund, it’s pretty likely you’ll be entitled to a State tax refund.

    Our average State tax refund is $175.

    But remember; to receive your State tax refund you’ll have to file your State tax return. Before you can file your State tax return, you’ll first have to file your Federal tax return!

    Bottom line? You’re legally required to file a tax return. There’s a great chance you’ll be due a State tax refund. So file your return and claim your cash!

    Claim your refund with Sprintax here!

    (4) How much tax will you pay?

    From the 2018 tax year onwards, all non-residents must pay 10% in income tax up to $9,525. And if you earn more than this amount on your J-1 program, you must pay 12% in income tax on the amount between $9,525 and $38,700.

    Case studies

    1

    J-1 in Boston

    Fred travels to Boston on a J-1 visa to work in a restaurant for the summer. During his time in the US he earns $4,000.

    If Fred was working in Boston in 2017 he would not have to pay tax on his earnings as his income does not exceed the personal exception amount of $4,050.

    However, if Fred works in Boston in 2018, he will not be able to avail of the personal exception and must pay $400 (10%) in income tax.

    2

    Fiona moves to Miami on a J-1 visa and secures work in an office for the summer. During her time in the US she earns $9,000 (the average income for around 50% of all summer work and travel participants).

    Had Fiona earned this income in 2017, her tax bill would have been $495 ($9,000 – $4,050 = $4,950. 10% of $4,950 = $495).

    However, if she earns this income in 2018 her total tax bill will be $900.

    J-1 in Miami

    The full tax rate and bracket list is as follows:

    Bracket                                             Tax rate

    $0 – $9,525                                                       10% of taxable income.

    $9,526 – $38,700                                          + 12% of the balance over $9,526

    $38,701 – $82,501                                        + 22% of the balance over $38,701

    $82,501 – $157,500                                      + 24% of the balance over $82,501

    $157,501 – $200,000                                   + 32% of the balance over $157,501

    Claim your refund with Sprintax here!

    (5) Sprintax is the easiest way to prepare your tax return

    Sprintax is the only online self-prep tax software for those on a J-1 programme and non-residents in the US. It will help you prepare your US tax return in minutes!

    When you create a Sprintax account, our system will assist you in preparing fully compliant Federal and State tax returns.

    Our software will also enable you to receive your maximum legal tax refund.

    tax refund for international students

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

    What does self-prep mean?

    Sprintax is a self-preparation tax software that allows J-1 holidaymakers to easily prepare a fully compliant tax return.

    When you create your account you’ll be asked to enter some relevant information into the software. You can then download your fully completed and complaint 1040NR (non-resident tax return).

    When you file with Sprintax you file with confidence!

    • Compliant US tax return
    • Save time and stress!
    • Determine your residency status
    • 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.

    How much will it cost?

    The Sprintax tax prep fees are:

    $35.95 – Federal

    $25.95 – State

    But don’t forget, most J-1 visa holders are entitled to a State tax refund!

    How can I get started?

    Easy!

    Set up a Sprintax account today!

    In summary:

    • The majority of all J-1 visa holders are considered non-residents for tax purposes in the US
    • Every non-resident in the US is legally obliged to file a tax return
    • Failure to do so may result in fines, penalties and future refusal of entry to the US
    • As of 1 January 2018, non-residents are no longer entitled to claim the personal exemption of $4,050
    • However, J-1 visa holders can still apply for their State tax refund by filing a tax return
    • Sprintax makes filing your US tax return easy!
    • When you prepare your tax return with Sprintax you’ll receive your maximum legal refund

     

    Filing your US tax return with Sprintax is super cheap and easy. Get started now!

     

     

     

  • Dreaming of a work and travel trip to the US? Here’s how to turn your dream into a reality!!

    Kick start your J-1 trip

    College semester coming to an end? Striving to find something new? You may be considering venturing on a J-1 US work and travel experience of a lifetime. And you’re not alone.

    In fact 300,000 foreign visitors travel to the US each year to work and experience ‘the American dream’.

    The work and travel program enables university and college students from around the world to spend an amazing summer working and travelling in the US. Participants can gather new knowledge, gain work experience and make new friends.

    But there’s one downside. For many people, the J-1 visa application process is extremely daunting. Where do you begin? And what if you can’t find a job in the US?

    Fortunately there are a number of organisations out there that can manage your J-1 visa application for you. Some of them will even guarantee to find you work!

    Let’s take a look at some of the best options below.

    J-1 work and travel applications

    students in the US

    Viking Cultural Exchange

    Viking have been organizing US Work and Travel programs for 13 years. Their package includes a job offer, issuance of the DS-2019 form, issuance of a round trip airplane ticket to the USA and back to home country, as well as preparation of all required documents for your program. Plus you’ll get free medical insurance to cover your travel period in the US. And all of this is delivered at an ‘affordable price’. 

    Cultural Homestay International

    Cultural Homestay International (CHI) offer overseas university students a unique opportunity to intimately experience life and culture in the US.

    For almost 40 years, more than 300,000 students and young adults have visited the US to participate in CHI’s educational and cultural programs, including:

    • Academic Year High School exchange
    • Short-term Group Homestay
    • Au Pair child-care
    • Internship training
    • Work & Travel
    • Camp Counsellor experience 

    Global Current

    Global Current has been a leader in international exchange and professional training for over 50 years. They provide 48 hour processing and ‘unrivaled personal attention’ to each and every J-1 applicant.

    Cultural Exchange Network

    Cultural Exchange Network (CENET) is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultural and international exchange.

    CENET administers the below programs for students looking for a US work and travel experience:

    • the International Trainee
    • International Intern
    • S.-Mexico Intern
    • Summer Work Travel Programs

    CICD Global Opportunities

    Since 1997, CICD has provided more than a thousand students with opportunities to successfully work and travel the US. CICD offers excellent personal service, program monitoring and support.

    InterExchange

    The InterExchange team of experts have helped over 225,000 explorers travel the world for the past 50 years. They administer five J-1 visa exchange visitor Programs:

    • Au Pair
    • Camp Counsellor
    • Intern
    • Summer Work Travel
    • Trainee

    Working Adventures Worldwide

    If you’re looking for an unforgettable US experience, Working Adventures Worldwide will help you with all the planning and preparation so that you can get more fun and less stress out of your overseas experience!

    Their parent company BUNAC (headquartered in Britain) has been in the youth travel industry for over 40 years, specializing in work and volunteer abroad programs.

    Summer Camp jobs

    J-1 summer camp in the US

    USA Summer Camp

    Every year, children across America head to Summer Camp for a summer in the outdoors, experiencing new things and building up their skills. Camps employ international staff to help run the camp, working as Camp Counsellors and Camp Leaders. This is a great opportunity to earn money over the summer while doing something that you love!

    Working Adventures Worldwide

    The best part of this company’s (based in New Zealand) program offering is that they will guarantee you a camp counselor job or your money back!

    Jobs can be found in all kinds of camp counselor roles including water sports, outdoor activities, land sports, horse riding, life guarding, performing arts, arts & crafts.

    They offer:

    • Low fees (you can save up to $200)
    • High salaries
    • A personal service

    Camp America (NZ)

    Based in New Zealand, Camp America have been tried and tested by thousands of Kiwis. With Camp America you’re guaranteed a placement or a refund!

    Camp America (OZ)

    This company will be for you if you’re hoping to travel to the US from Australia to work in summer camp.

    CampStaffUSA

    Attracting candidates from all around the world, CampStaffUSA is a one of a kind staffing site that focuses on summer camp employment.  The company was founded by camp directors looking for an all-in-one solution for hiring quality summer camp staff.

    Camp Leaders

    Camp Leaders are the only specialist summer camp company based in Ireland. They provide summer camp placements at over 500 summer camps throughout America. They offer high wages and a truly unforgettable J-1 summer experience.

    American Camp Association

    If you choose the American Camp Association for your US camp placement you’ll have an opportunity to pick from 3,656 Camps and 12,184 Programs. The American Camp Association is a community of camp professionals who, for over 100 years, have joined together to share knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs.

    Internships

    J-1 intern in the US

    USEH International

    USEH provide high quality paid international internship/training to young professionals from all around the world, specializing in Tourism and Hotel management, business administration, finance, sales & marketing and IT.

    Intrax

    Intrax Global Internships offers J-1 visa sponsorship for Interns and Trainees in the following occupational categories:

    • Arts and Culture
    • Hospitality and Tourism
    • Information Media and Communications
    • Management, Business, Commerce and Finance
    • Public Administration and Law
    • The Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Mathematics and Industrial Occupations

    Since 1980, more than 350,000 individuals (from over 100 countries) have participated in Intrax programs.

    International Interns USA

    For over 10 years, IIUSA has helped international students and graduates to find internships in the US. They will help you to find a great internship, get a J-1 visa and find a company for your OPT training.

    Cultural Vistas

    Founded in 1963, Cultural Vistas is a non-profit exchange organization which promotes global understanding and collaboration among individuals and institutions. Annually, more than 4,500 individuals and over 900 US businesses, companies, and NGOs turn to Cultural Vistas as their trusted solution for J-1 Visa sponsorship for internship and training programs.

    Career Internship Abroad

    Founded in 2008, Career Internship Abroad (CIA) is a world-class educational consultancy firm that creates global internship opportunities for students, fresh graduates, and young professionals.

    CIA has been recognized by different international regulatory agencies and is affiliated with different educational organizations to ensure that all the participants are protected and secured.

    Council of International Programs USA

    CIPUSA offer an array of exchange programs ranging from two weeks to 18 months in duration and spanning a variety of professional fields. Their J-1 Training Visa program is open to both applicants who already have a training program lined up in the US and to those who are still looking for opportunities.

    Medical roles

    Medical jobs J-1 USA

    J1 WAIVER JOBS

    This company provides J-1 Visa Waiver Jobs For Physicians, with an emphasis on roles in Montana. With this waiver, you will not be required to return to your home country after the completion of your J-1 exchange visitor program. This is a very desirable factor for many medical doctors that come to the US on a J-1 visa.

    3RNet

    This non-profit organization helps to connect health professionals searching for jobs in rural or ‘underserved areas’ with health care facilities. 3RNet offer roles in every state!

    Hospitality positions

    J-1 working in a hotel

    Hospitality Placements USA

    This company specializes in the placement of qualified international hospitality graduates and young professionals into major brand hotels and resorts in the US. They match qualified interns and trainees into paid training positions to receive on the job training, build career experience and improve professional skills.

    Placement International

    Placement International has over 10 years of experience in offering positions for highly educated students and young professionals to do paid internships and management training programs in the most luxurious hotels and restaurants in the US. Looking to work in a top hotel brands while on your J-1 program? Step this way!

    Agricultural work

    Working on a farm on a J-1 trip

    Communicating For Agriculture Exchange Programs

    Looking to experience farm life stateside?

    CAEP brings young adults together from all over the world to share and learn ideas, beliefs, and agricultural practices through international paid agriculture exchange programs.

    And finally

    Tokio Marine HCC

    When you’re in the US on a J-1 visa you’ll no doubt be hoping to earn some money to supplement your trip. However as the saying goes – ‘your health is your wealth’! In the US, you’ll have access to quality medical care for any unexpected illnesses or injuries you may encounter during your trip. But this care can be extremely costly without insurance coverage. Tokio Marine HCC can provide coverage in the event of an accident or emergency as you travel within the US. You’ll be back on your feet in no time!