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  • Form 8843 Explained

    Form 8843 US tax

    As a non-resident alien, even if you don’t need to file a US income tax return, you still must file a Form 8843. So what’s it all about?

    What is a Form 8843?

    8843

    (extract of form)

    A Form 8843 ‘’Statement for Exempt Individuals with a Medical Condition” is not an income tax return, it is a statement you file for the US Government if you are a certain non-resident alien (including spouses/dependents of certain non-resident aliens).

     

    Who must file a Form 8843?

    Non-residents aliens in the US under F-1, J-1, or J-2 non-immigrant status are required to file a Form 8843, even if you had no income in the previous tax year.

     

    You must file a Form 8843 if:

    • You were present in the US in the previous tax year
    • You are a non-resident alien
    • And you are in the US under F-1, F-2 or J-2 status.

     

    Even if you don’t need to file an income tax return, you should file the Form 8843 if the above criteria apply.

     

    How do I fill it in?

    Here is the Form.

    Part 1:

    • Fill in your details accurately including your name as it appears on your passport.

     

    • If you have a social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number you should include it. You generally don’t need an SSN or ITIN to file a Form 8843 but if you have been assigned one, you must include it on Form 8843. The exception to this is for those who can be claimed as dependents on a US tax return. These dependents must have either an SSN or ITIN.

     

    • Enter the type of visa you’re on in the US (F-1, J-1, etc.).

     

    • Enter your current non-immigrant status, unless this has changed since you entered the US. In this case you should also enter the date your change of status was approved.

     

    • Enter the number of days you were present in the US in the last 3 calendar years.

     

    • In the box on the substantial presence test, enter the number of days that you were in the US in the tax year.

     

    Part 2

    For teachers and trainees, answer the questions according to your personal circumstances and include the details of what academic institution or programme you were involved in the previous year.

     

    Part 3

    If you are an F-1, J-1 (and dependents), you should fill in this section.

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

     

    Part IV and V

    These parts don’t apply to those in the US on F or J non-immigrant status so you don’t need to fill these in.

  • Tell-A-Friend Competition Winner

    We’re delighted to announce the winner of an iPad Air in our first Tell-a-Friend Competition is Yeh-Hsing Lao from Taiwan!

    Yeh-Hsing, a student at Columbia University, entered our competition after preparing his US Federal and State tax returns with Sprintax and recommending the service to his friends.

    We were delighted to meet Yeh-Tsing and present his prize personally. Listening to our customers is our key to providing highest quality customer service.

    Yeh-Hsing said, “I found Sprintax very easy to use and it was very helpful to be able to do state at the same time.”

    Now it’s YOUR chance to win an iPad Air in our April prize draw!

    To enter, simply get started here and refer your friends to Sprintax!

    Click here for more information on Tell-a-Friend Competition.

     

  • Tax Rules for International Students in the US

    tax tips for students

    The tax you pay in the US is determined by your status as a resident for tax purposes.

    What is a Non-Resident Alien?

    Typically, a non-resident alien is someone who is legally present in the US but doesn’t have a green card. Non-resident aliens (NRAs) must pay income tax on income earned from a US source. If you are a non-resident alien, you must keep records of all sources of income so the IRS can see proof of what should be taxed and what should be exempt.

     

    Students in F-1 and J-1 status are typically considered NRAs for the first 5 years in student status, including the tax year (January 1 – December 31). In the 6th year, you become a resident for tax purposes.

    Scholars in J-1 status are considered NRAs for the first 2 years so scholars who arrived in 2015 or later are non-residents for the 2016 tax year.

    Other non-immigrant statuses: Dependent on the substantial presence test

     

    FORM 8843

    Required of all Fs and Js—even without any income

    All non-immigrants in F or J status that are deemed “non-residents for tax purposes” must mail a form 8843  if they were in the U.S. for any part of the tax year, January 1 to December 31.

    If you didn’t have any income, you can mail this form alone. If you did have income, the 8843 form is to be included with other forms in your non-resident tax return.

     

    What is a tax return and what’s the deadline?

    Your tax return reports your income and taxes withheld, if any, during the tax year (January 1 – December 31). If you’ve overpaid taxes, you’ll get a refund and if there’s a shortfall, you’ll owe money. If you work in the U.S. or have other U.S. sourced income, you may have taxes withheld.

    April 18, 2016 is the deadline for your 2015 tax return.

    Every year, you have to file an income tax return with the federal tax authorities. Each state has its own tax regulations so you also may need to file a state tax return.

    Sprintax can help you prepare both your federal and state tax returns.

    Sources of income include:

    • On-campus and off-campus employment
    • Scholarship/fellowship grants/stipends
    • Graduate or teaching assistantships
    • Salary for a teaching or research appointment

    Tax Treaties

    You may be also eligible for a tax treaty that may limit your taxable income. Sprintax can check for this when you fill in your details.

     

    Documents you’ll need:

    tax documents

    • Passport
    • Visa/Immigration info-including Form DS-2019 or Form I-20
    • Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if any)
    • U.S. entry and exit dates for all visits
    • Tax-related forms

     

    Tax forms

    You may receive one or more of the following—or none— depending on your circumstances!

     

    W-2:

    W-2 form reports your wages from each employer.

    1042-S:

    1)  Reports scholarships, fellowships, grants, awards and any other payment made to you by a U.S. source that was NOT compensation for services, i.e. for which you did NOT work. If your scholarship or fellowship provided tuition exemption or reduction, but no stipend, you will not receive a 1042-S form since you didn’t receive a payment that is considered income.

    2) Also reports earned income that is exempt from tax because of a tax treaty between your country of residence and the U.S.

    1099:

    Bank interest, stocks, funds

     

    Preparing your tax return

    You can use Sprintax to prepare your non-resident tax return.

    Sprintax will also:

    • Determine your tax residency status
    • Identify what forms you need to file
    • Apply any tax treaty benefits
    • Complete and generate the forms you need, along with mailing instructions
    • 24/7 Live Chat help

     

    Sprintax can also:

    • Prepare state tax returns (for a fee)
    • Generate form 843 to request a refund of Social Security / FIC payments if withheld in error (for a fee).

     

    Create a Sprintax Account

    1. To get started, click here to create an account
  • Your Free Guide to Studying in the US

    Check out how Sprintax works

    Considering embarking on an academic course in the US?

    Being an international student in the US can be a hugely rewarding experience. If you’re wondering how to go about it or just looking for tips, then you should download our free PDF guide straight to your PC or smartphone.

    Topics include:

    • How to get a scholarship
    • Getting your visa
    • Where to go
    • Accommodation in the US
    • Eating on a Budget
    • US Tax Tips
    • Getting a Job
    • Student Life
    • And much more!

    Simply fill in the form below to get your free guide!

  • Your Tax Questions Answered

    Tax questions answered

    Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about U.S. taxes.

     

    1. Do I need to file a tax return?

    If you are a non-resident in the U.S. you must file a tax return to stay compliant with your visa’s tax obligations.

    If you are any of the following, you must file a return:

    • Non-resident alien individual not engaged in a trade or business in the U.S. and has U.S. income on which the tax liability was not satisfied by the withholding of tax at the source.
    • Even if you had no income, you must still file Form 8843

    As well as federal tax, there are also state taxes and local taxes. The basis on which you must file a state tax return will depend on the tax rules of the state in which you lived and/or worked. Sprintax can prepare your federal tax return and if required, will also prepare your state tax return.

     

    2. Can I avail of a tax treaty?

    You may be able to claim a tax refund under international ‘tax treaties’. Tax treaties are agreements between the U.S. and other countries allowing you to claim back whole or part of tax paid while working in the U.S.

    Sprintax will check if you’re eligible for a tax treaty when preparing your U.S. tax return. You can check for tax treaties here.

     

    3. What’s a W-2 form?

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

     

    4. What is a 1042-S form?

    If you received a scholarship, fellowship, grant, or any other source of U.S. income subject to tax, you’ll need Form 1042-S in order to complete your tax return. This form can also be used for other income types such as teaching, research, and investment income. You should receive Form 1042-S from your university’s payroll department or whatever party provided the income.

     

    5. What is a Form 8843?

    Form 8843 it is not an income tax return. It is a statement for exempt individuals and individuals with a medical condition for the U.S. Government. You will need to file Form 8843 if you are a non-resident alien in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 non-immigrant status and you are exempt for a certain period from substantial presence test. This applies whether you received U.S. income or not.

    Non-resident aliens who are not required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ), but  are required to file Form 8843, do not need to get a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). But if an SSN has been assigned, the number must be included on Form 8843.

     

    6. What is Form 1098-T?

    Form 1098-T (Tuition Statement) is for U.S. nationals and residents in order to figure out their educational credits which are not available to non-residents. Sprintax is specifically for non-residents, so you do not need this form in order to complete your income and tax details in our system.

     

    7. What is the April 15 (18 in 2016) deadline for?

    The April 15 (18 for 2016 tax season) deadline is the date by which all tax returns must be filed for the previous year. If you owe money to the tax office and don’t file your 2015 tax return by April 18, 2016 the U.S. tax authorities will impose late filing penalties and interest on the amount you owe.

     

    8. What happens if I miss the April 15 (18 in 2016) deadline?

    You should not worry about penalties and fines if you have no tax liability, the IRS will not penalize you if you do not file a return although you must still file Form 8843. If you owe anything to the tax office, however, you may incur late filing fees and/or penalties.

    Non-residents can apply for their tax refunds even after the April 18 deadline, but a return has to be filed no more than 3 years after the original deadline in order for the IRS to issue a refund

     

    9. Can I file electronically?

    No, you must print and mail your forms to the IRS as Sprintax will not mail your forms to the IRS on your behalf. Follow the detailed instructions provided enclosed with your tax forms.

     

    10. I don’t have an SSN or ITIN

    If you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) you will need to get a temporary number instead. This is called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Sprintax can organise this for you.

    An ITIN must be provided on tax returns, statements, and other tax related documents.

     

    11. What documents/information might I need to prepare my tax return?

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

     

    12. What are the benefits of using Sprintax?

    • IRS compliance
    • Step by step guidance
    • ITIN applications
    • User-friendly system
    • 24/7 Live Help

     

    13. I’m not a student, can I use Sprintax?

    If you’re a temporary visitor to the U.S. on a H1B, H2B, L or B-1 working visa, Sprintax can prepare your U.S. income tax return. However, you must be classified as non-resident for the entire tax year. If you’re unsure, Sprintax can review your status.

     

    14. Who can use Sprintax?

    Sprintax was created for international students, scholars, teachers and researchers in the U.S. on F, J, M and Q visas.

     

    15. Where do I start?

    To get started with your U.S. tax return, click here to create an account.

    If we haven’t answered all your questions, then please ask our tax guru, Stacy!

     

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

    filing your taxes

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

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

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

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

    1. Deadlines

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

    2. Get your documents in order

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

    These include:

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

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

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

    3. ITIN

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

    4. Residency status

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

    5. Tax treaties

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

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

    Watch our video demo to see how it works:

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

  • CV Vs Resume-What’s the Difference?

    cv vs resume

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

    Here is what you should know!

     

    CV

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

     

    Resume

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

     

    Some tips for your US resume:

     

    1. Personal/Contact details

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

     

    2. Education

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

    Lay it out in this format:

    Name of University – Location of University – Dates of enrolment

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

     

    3. Experience

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

    Use this format:

    Company Name – Location – Date

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

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

    Good luck!

  • The 2015 Tax Year is Live!

    U.S. tax return

    International students and scholars-you can now use Sprintax for your 2015 U.S. tax returns!

    We’re delighted to announce that the 2015 tax filing season is now open and you can use Sprintax to file your non-resident tax returns. Sprintax is for international students and scholars in the U.S. and will help you prepare your Federal, State, and FICA tax returns to ensure you stay fully compliant with the IRS and obligations of your visa.

    When you use Sprintax, we’ll check for income tax deductions, tax treaty benefits, personal allowances, and tax credits to make sure you get the highest refund possible.

    How Sprintax works

    To begin, you simply create an account here and answer a few simple questions. Sprintax will give you a step-by-step guide to the whole process. Once you’re done, Sprintax will generate your tax return/s and all you need to do is send it to the tax office!

    Once complete, we’ll store your details for any future tax returns. You can also prepare tax returns for previous years using the same account.

    Here’s a short video demo:

    Get started!

    You can get started now by creating an account here. Don’t miss out on your tax refund and stay compliant by using Sprintax-the sooner you file your tax return the better.

    Have a question? Ask our virtual assistant Stacy  here.

  • Sprintax at NAFSA Regional Conferences

    Every year, NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, holds conferences in each state in October and November. These conferences give those involved in education the opportunity to meet, network, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends.

    This year, Sprintax were delighted to be represented by Jennifer Gallagher in Boise (Idaho), Cincinnati (Ohio), Savannah (Georgia), and Honolulu (Hawaii). Jennifer raffled off candy, battery packs and cookies. She also donated battery packs to the silent auctions at each conference to raise money for the region.

    Adrienne Dines

    Above is a picture of Adrienne Dines who won the Hawaiian shortbread cookies that Jennifer raffled off at NAFSA Region XII conference in Honolulu. Adrienne is an advisor at Mesa Community College in San Diego.

    Laura Kanner

    Laura Covey-Kanner-winner of an external battery pack in Region XII in Hawaii.

    We were delighted to be part of NAFSA regional conferences as well as the big conference earlier in the year. NAFSA is helping to make strides in education and we look forward to continuing our participation..and the prizes of course!

  • 50 Facts About Thanksgiving

     

    Thanksgiving is a big celebration in the US and takes place  on the 26th November this year. Did you know that Americans spend around $2.8 billion every year on food for Thanksgiving? Or that the first “meal on the moon” was roast turkey? Find out all you need to know about Thanksgiving in the US with these 50 fascination facts!

     

    history of thanksgiving

     

    1. The Plymouth pilgrims were the first people to celebrate Thanksgiving and it was organized by Governor William Bradford. (Despite earlier Thanksgiving feasts probably taking place, this is the most-cited and one of the most influential on modern Thanksgiving in the US)

     

    2. At the first Thanksgiving, everyone was probably a bit drunk, including the children. Beer was often considered safer than water and it was served to everyone at meals, including babies.

     

    3. It’s estimated that around 90% of Native Americans were wiped out by diseases such as smallpox even before the pilgrims arrived.

     

    4. When pilgrims landed in North America, the Wampanoag Indians taught them how to cultivate the land.

     

    5. “Squanto”, a Wampanoag, befriended and helped the pilgrims on planting corn, how to fish, and how to gather berries and nuts.

     

    6. Wampanoag means “Easterners” or “People of the Dawn”.

     

    7. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted 3 days.

     

    8. Historians believe wild game and vegetables were served at the first Thanksgiving feast.

     

    9. Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a public holiday in 1863 after pressure and campaigning from Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote ‘’Mary had a little Lamb’’.

     

    10. The longest Thanksgiving in history lasted four months. It was held in Hawaii and was called “Makahiki”.

     

    11. The first “meal on the moon” was roast turkey.

     

    12. “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song composed by James Pierpont in 1857 for his Sunday school class.

     

    13. There were no forks during the first Thanksgiving; only spoons and knives!

     

    14. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade took place in 1924 in New York. Now 3 million people attend the parade every year while 44 million watch on T.V.

     

    celebrations at Thanksgiving

     

    15. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving too, on the first Monday in October. The first Canadian Thanksgiving is often attributed to the explorer Martin Frobisher back in 1578.

     

    16. The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York is the world’s largest inflatable parade.

     

    17. More alcohol is consumed on this holiday than at any other time in the US.

     

    18. The Virgin Islands celebrate traditional Thanksgiving Day but also “Hurricane Thanksgiving Day” every October 19th if there have been no hurricanes.

     

    19. The National Football League held the first Thanksgiving Classic Games in 1920.

     

    20. Thanksgiving Day is the busiest travel day in the year in the US.

     

    21. Other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving include Germany, Grenada, Korea, and Norfolk Island.

     

    22. The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest day for bar sales in the US.

     

    23. Snoopy has appeared in the Macy’s Parade more than any other character in history.

     

    24. “Un-thanksgiving Day” is celebrated at Alcatraz Island every year, commemorating the survival of Native Americans following the arrival of European settlers.

     

    25. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called ‘’Black Friday’’ and is the biggest sale day for retailers. The name comes from the idea that the sales will take them out of the red and back into profit.

     

    Food at Thanksgiving

     

    26. Around three quarters of Americans serve store-bought cranberry sauce vs homemade.

     

    27. Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce each holiday season; the equivalent of more than 7 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

     

    28. Americans spend about $8 billion each year on holiday staples for the feast.

     

    29. Approx 2.4 billion lb: The weight of sweet potatoes made by major sweet potato producing states in 2014.

     

    30. “Turducken” is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken and is becoming a popular dish for Thanksgiving.

     

    31. More than 40 million bean casseroles are served during Thanksgiving.

     

    32. Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York are the top pumpkin-growing states.

     

    33. The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was 3,699 lb and over 20 ft. in diameter.

     

    Turkey at Thanksgiving

     

    34. Around 46 million turkeys are consumed during Thanksgiving, with the average Turkey weighing 16 lb.

     

    35. The largest man-made turkey is in Frazee, Minnesota. “Big Tom” weighs over 5,000 lb.

     

    36. Butterball, a brand of Turkey, opened a Turkey Talk-Line nearly 30 years ago with 6 home economists answering questions from 11,000 phone calls in its first year.

     

    37. The largest gathering of people dressed as Turkeys is 661 and was accomplished at the annual Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot in Dallas, Texas, in November 2011.

     

    38. The world’s heaviest turkey (ever recorded) weighed 86 lbs. (39.09kg).

     

    39. There are four places in the US named Turkey: Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; Turkey Creek, Arizona, and Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot in Pennsylvania!

     

    40. Commercially raised Turkeys cannot fly!

     

    41. A large group of turkeys is called a “flock”.

     

    42. Turkeys sometimes suffer and die from heart attacks.

     

    43. The state of California consumes the most turkey.

     

    44. Each year, the US president pardons a turkey to spare it from being eaten at Thanksgiving dinner.

     

    45. Females turkeys do not ‘’gobble’’. It’s only the males.

     

    46. Around 88% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving.

     

    45. Thanksgiving is responsible for T.V. dinners. In 1953, Swanson began creating them to sell a large surplus of frozen turkeys they had leftover.

     

    46. Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in the US.

     

    47. If it was up to Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of US, the turkey would be the national symbol instead of the eagle.

     

    48. In the 1930s, hunters had almost decimated the population of wild turkeys, but thankfully their numbers increased after the introduction of hunting regulations and conservation efforts.

     

    Happy Thanksgiving!