All posts in Sprintax

  • Tax Treaties: What’s The Deal?

    US Flag

    If you’re an international student in the US, a tax treaty could mean excellent news!

    Under these treaties, residents of foreign countries are:

    • Taxed at a reduced rate
    • Exempt from US on income derived from specific sources earned within the US

     

    Is your country in blue? Then it has a tax treaty with the US:

    tax Treaty

    If your country does not have a tax treaty with the US or the treaty doesn’t cover they type of income you earn, then you must pay tax on this income.

     

    Saving Clause

    Most tax treaties have a clause that preserves the right of each country to tax its own residents, so once you become a resident of the US, you will lose most of the tax treaty benefits. However, many treaties still allow you to claim certain benefits even if you become a US citizen or resident.

     

    Non-Resident Aliens

    If you are a non-resident alien, like most international students, a tax treaty will eliminate or reduce taxes on certain income and services, including; pensions, interest, dividends, royalties, and capital gains. For students, apprentices, and trainees, the limit to the benefits of the tax treaties is 4-5 years. For teachers and professors, the limit is around 2-3 years.

     

    Requirements

    You must meet certain requirements to avail of the benefits of a tax treaty:

    • Requirements as laid out in IRS Publication 901 (pdf)
    • You should have Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • Complete the correct tax treaty exemption forms

     

    You can view the text of each treaty on the IRS website here.

     

    How Sprintax can help?

    When you do your online tax return with Sprintax, we will automatically check if you can avail of any tax treaty benefits, thus increasing your chances of a higher tax refund!

     

    Find out more here.

  • 2016 Sprintax Customer Survey Results Now Available

    sprintax-customer-survey-2016

    At Sprintax, we believe the best way to improve our service is to listen to our customers. We constantly strive to provide them the highest quality service and their feedback is vital to achieve this.

    For the 2nd year we launched Customer Satisfaction Survey and thousands of our customers took part in it to tell what they really think of Sprintax.

    The results speak for themselves!

    sprintax-survey_infographic-

    To thank those who took part in the survey, we decided to run a raffle and give away a $200 Gift Card. The lucky winner is HRUTURAJ Vartak.

    Here’s what he says about filing his Federal and State tax returns with Sprintax:

    ‘I am very pleased to have filed my taxes through Sprintax. I have wasted quite a lot of money by filing through different agencies over past 3 years but Sprintax made things easy for me. I’ll definitely share my experience with friends and colleagues. Thanks for your service!’

    Congrats, HRUTURAJ  and happy spending!

    We are delighted to announce the great results but we appreciate both positive and negative feedback as it helps grow and improve.

    Your voice matters! It guides s through the long process of creating incredible customer journey so do not hesitate to contact us anytime!

  • What documents do I need to file my US Tax Return?

    US non-resident alien tax return

    If you want to file a tax return as a non-resident in the US, you’ll need a few important documents and some vital information. We’ve listed them below so you can prepare for tax time in the US!

     

    What you’ll need:

    • Your Passport
    • All U.S. entry and exit dates for current and previous visits
    • Any tax forms you received (Form W-2, 1042-S and/or 1099, etc.)
    • Visa/Immigration status information, including Form DS-2019 (for J visa holders), Form I-20 (for F visa holders)
    • Your 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

     

     

    So, what are these documents?

     

    Form 1040NR

    This is the US Non-resident Alien Income Tax Return and you must file this form if you earned US sourced income. It is due by 15 April each year.

     

    W-2 Form

    If you work in the US, you’ll get a W-2 form from your employer. They should give you this 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

    If you receive a scholarship, fellowship or grant, you’ll need a form 1042-S to complete your tax return. You can also use this form for many other income types such 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.

     

    ITIN

    The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is assigned in the place of a social security number. If you don’t have an ITIN, Sprintax can help organize this for you.

    If you don’t need to file a tax return and are just filing a form 8843, you won’t need one, however, if you have been supplied with one, you must still include it on the form.

     

    Form 8843

    If you didn’t earn any income in the US, you must still file a form 8843. A form 8843 ‘’Statement for Exempt Individuals with a Medical Condition” is not an income tax return, it’s a statement you file for the US Government if you are a certain non-resident alien (including spouses/dependents of certain non-resident aliens). You can read more about form 8843 here.

     

    Deadlines

    You should file your tax return by the deadline of 15 April (this date may change to accommodate holidays or weather conditions). For example this date is extended to 17th of April for 2016 tax year, first working day after the deadline.

  • Sprintax at NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference & Expo

    This year the team at Sprintax continued our tradition and attended the annual NAFSA (Association of International Educators) Conference.

    This year the annual conference & expo took place in Denver and again confirmed its status as the largest international educational conference in the world, gathering attendees from over 100 countries.
    More than 400 institutions and 10,000 international educational professionals from across the globe joined the conference for the chance to exchange ideas, network, and explore the trends that are shaping the future of education.

    We had an incredible opportunity to meet many of our partners and discuss new strategies on working together in the 2016 tax season.

    We also paved our way to exciting new collaborations with leading US institutions and schools. The whole team are looking forward to working together to help even more international students and scholars with their US tax affairs.

    Sprintax Competition

    We love giving away prizes so we ran an exclusive iPad competition for all of those who stopped by our booth for a chat with Enda and Jennifer.

    The lucky winner was Kathy Gallentine – International Student Advisor at Central Washington University. Congratulations Kathy!

    sprintax-winner-nafsa
    Jennifer from Sprintax team and Kathy from Central Washington University

    We’d like to thank all NAFSA participants for the great experience at the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference and Expo!

    Looking forward to seeing you at the NAFSA Regionals!

  • 8 Tips For Studying Abroad When You Don’t Know Anyone

    studying abroad

    Heading away to study abroad but worried you don’t know anyone in your new country? Just follow these 8 steps and you’ll be  just fine!

     

    Step 1.  Do your research

    Prepare before you go! Use everything at your disposal; Google, friends and family who have visited, etc. Try to understand what is the lifestyle there. One of the biggest challenges is also the most exciting prospect; a new culture!

    This will also help you understand how to greet people and will ease up the transition and make you feel more at home.

     

    Step 2.  Try new things

    Once you arrive, go out and try the local cuisine – the restaurants, bars and don’t forget the nightlife! Join societies or clubs at  your new university or school because this is one of the best ways to meet new people! Get a part-time job! You’ll earn some extra cash and meet new people. And if you’re learning a new language, this is one of the best ways to learn.

    Make sure you attend orientation meetings and gatherings so you can meet like-minded people. Experiencing these things will make you adapt faster to the new atmosphere and will enable you to make new friendships.

    iomages

    Step 3. Sights and trips

    Take the time to visit the museums, local stores and famous landmarks. This is a unique opportunity for you to see things that most people can’t!

     

    Step 4.  Be very friendly and talkative

    At first it might be difficult to make new friends but don’t shy away. Join things and approach people. There will be plenty of other students from abroad in the same boat. Don’t be shy and talk to them!

     

    Step 5. Be prepared for differences

    It’s a new place, with new people and possibly a completely different culture, so it’s normal for some things to be different. Expect that people will not think like you do and will not have the same moral values like yours. It’s normal!

    Their lifestyle and nation is different than yours. Be open-minded, so you can experience new things along the way.

     

    Step 6. Study!

    Don’t forget to pay attention to your studies! You are there mainly to study and learn, not on a vacation or a trip. Stay focused and do not overlook your grades.

     

    Step 7. Contact your family and friends

    Don’t forget to keep in touch with friends and family.  Use everything available to you including Skype, WhatsApp and email. They will want to know how well you are doing.

     

    Step 8. Have fun!

    This is the most important thing. Don’t get too homesick and use the time wisely because it will be over before you know it! Until then – have a great time during your stay and make the most out of it!

    And don’t forget to read our guide to working and studying in the US here.

  • 2015 is Best Sprintax Season to Date

    The 2015 US tax season is long over and it is time to take stock of the season and look at the big picture – through our eyes and through the eyes of our customers and partners.

    The Season in Numbers

    We are delighted to announce that the 2015 tax season was our best season to date. We guided twice the number of international students and scholars through the complicated tax filing process compared to last year.

    36,348 non-residents trusted Sprintax with their Federal tax returns and 30,450 filed their state tax returns using our software.

    Being the only non-resident tax prep tool covering both Federal and State tax returns, we helped our customers claim $30, 5000,000 in Federal tax refunds and more than $8,000,000 in State tax refunds.

    Our Goals

    We achieved the goals we set last year; to deliver excellent customer experience by reaching the highest standards and create an outstanding customer journey.

    With our help, thousands of international students and scholars from 193 countries filed their US taxes hassle-free with our step-by-step software and 24/7 Live Tax Help.

    Our team was fully dedicated to improving the Sprintax software and making it user-friendly. We prepared an extensive FAQ section which proved to be incredibly useful to our customers and a new video demo where you can find out how Sprintax works.

    Our Partnerships

    Over 475 US schools have partnered with us to help their students and scholars with their tax affairs.

    We’re excited to say that in the 2015 tax season we not only strengthened the relationships with our partners but also established many new partnerships with hundreds of US schools and institutions from all across the US.

    We truly believe that those partnerships will thrive in the future and are looking forward to many new ones.

    A Big Thank you

    To all members of the Sprintax team for their dedication and hard work. We owe our huge success to all of those who put their hearts into Sprintax.

    The excellent results we achieved in the 2015 season only motivate us to work even harder and implement new innovations to improve our services.

    A new strategy is on the horizon so stay tuned for big Sprintax news in the 2016 tax season.

  • 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