All posts in Sprintax

  • 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!

  • 3 Awesome Ways Students Celebrate Halloween in the US

    Halloween in the US

    Students in the US have really embraced the Celtic tradition of Halloween and as an international student in the US, you’ll get to experience first-hand just how much they like to celebrate.

    So…exactly how big of a deal is it?

    Halloween is a HUGE deal in the US, with Americans spending over $7 billion on the holiday last year, including more than $2 billion on candy and around $2.8 billion on costumes!

    Here’s a breakdown of Halloween spending in the US:

    sprintax infographic

    If you haven’t experienced Halloween in the US yet, you’re definitely in for a treat! The mass immigration of Irish and Scottish in the 1800s dramatically increased the popularity of this Celtic tradition and it’s now celebrated by millions of people in the country on October 31st each year.

    On this night, it’s estimated that around 170 million Americans start carving pumpkins, put on their best fancy dress, and revel the night away at a party or trick or treat to celebrate this tradition.

    Being a student at Halloween

    Students in the US have really embraced Halloween and international students are always welcome to join in the festivities. It may be your first Halloween but you’ll get to experience an entirely new type of fun!

    As well as small house parties, you may come across ‘’block parties’’, where celebrations take place across several street blocks. For example, in Athens, Ohio, the annual Halloween block party spans a number of blocks and around 10,000-30,000 people in fancy dress descend upon the city, almost doubling the population. It’s so big now that the University of Ohio will only let each student have one guest stay for the weekend!

    1. Parties

    From house parties to Halloween balls and haunted houses, there are always lots of ways to celebrate. For students in the US, this is one of the biggest party seasons of the year and you’ll find many fraternities, sororities, and student organizations holding Halloween parties where the students get to show off their scariest costumes.

    Pennsylvania State University hosts a week long “pumpkin festival” each year dedicated to the art of pumpkin carving. The festival also has music, food, and crafts alongside the pumpkin carving competition.

    Every Halloween, Texas A&M University takes students on a trip through the “haunted woods”. The funds from the trail go to charity so patrons have the chance to be philanthropic whilst getting the fright of their lives.

    Check out some of the best university Halloween parties in the US here.

    2. Haunted Houses

    Do you enjoy a good fright? If so, you’re in luck, because the US is home to some of the best haunted houses in the world.

    Frightland in Middleton, Delaware, has eight different and uniquely terrifying haunted attractions, from a zombie ghost town to a haunted barn and more.

    Erebus in Pontiac, Michigan, houses four stories of horror and Philadelphia’s Terror Behind the Walls is set within a now defunct US prison believed to be haunted by former inmates.

    Here is a list of some of the top haunted houses and attractions in the US.

    3. Horror Movies

    Another way US students like to celebrate is by watching a horror film, for example, Georgetown University screens the Exorcist each year in honor of the scenes that were filmed on campus. So why not grab a bucket of popcorn and enjoy a scary night at the movies?

    As you can see from above, there are lots of ways to get into the Halloween spirit. What could be better than dressing up, decorating the house, and heading to a party?!

    Have fun and happy Halloween!

  • Getting a Job in the US

    Every student comes to the US with dreams and ambitions. Here are some tips to turn your dream job into a career:

     

    Plan your Career

    Be patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day! Get networking–it will help you gain useful contacts. Most importantly, do what you love– choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life!

     

    Start Your Search

    Focus on what you want to get from your career. Set goals and patiently execute them one by one and aim high. Search for jobs in the newspapers, employment centres, and on websites such as college.monster.com, specifically for recent graduates.

     

    Resume Vs CV

    A US CV is usually called a ‘resume’, and is different to the CV that you’re used to.

    Here’s why:

    A CV showcases your experience and is a ‘story’ about your academic and professional life, while a resume is a much shorter document with highlights of your academic life and career.

    Resumes should be one page long, and include a short, chronological list of previous experience and education. Get some good references from within the US if you can.

     

    Going for an interview

    Once you get the interview, remember these tips:

    • Don’t be late!
    • Research the company thoroughly
    • Practice your answers
    • Ask some questions
    • Look clean and professional

     

    And lastly, don’t forget to show your enthusiasm and let them know you really want the job!

     

     

     

  • US Taxes for International Students

    Regardless of the fact that you probably don’t classify as a US citizen, you’re required by US taxation law to file a tax return.

    Filing a tax return

    You should complete and submit your tax documents to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) by the 15th of April for any income earned in the previous year.

    Even if you haven’t earned any income and therefore don’t owe any money to IRS, not filing your taxes could still influence your future plans. Not complying with the law may affect your future visa applications.

     

    Tax refund

    If you received any income during the tax year, you could be entitled to get some of the taxes you paid back. If you don’t file your tax return, you lose the opportunity to apply for your tax refund and get some extra money. Not to mention the penalties the IRS could impose on you.

     

    Tax Treaties

    You may be eligible to take advantage of ‘tax treaties’ signed between the US and your home country, so make sure you check this.

    Sprintax has all credits and tax treaties for non-resident international students built-in which makes Sprintax a super easy option for tax filing for non-residents.

     

    How to file your taxes

    Unlike US residents, non-residents for tax purposes can’t file tax returns electronically. By “electronically” we mean you can’t submit your documents to IRS electronically.

     

    Sprintax has the answer

    You can use our online tax preparation tool to help you with the complicated tax documents and process, then print and simply post them to IRS.

     

    Get started at Sprintax.com

  • Infographic: Facts about the US

    Did you know that people in the US eat approximately 100 acres of pizza per day? Check out our infographic with more interesting facts and stats on the US below:

    SPR_Infographic_US Facts

  • Getting a Student Visa for the US

    Untitled design (25)

    If you want to study in the US as an international student, you’ll need a student visa. Your course of study and the school you want to attend will determine if you need to apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa.

    Before you apply

    You must get a place in a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) approved school before you apply for your visa. You can search the Department of Homeland Security website Study in the States for SEVP approved schools. You’ll need to be accepted by a SEVP school 6-12 months in advance. There’s also a SEVIS fee you must pay separately to visa and school SEVIS administration fees.

    Types of student visas

    Depending on your course of study, you’ll need an F-1 or M-1 visa.

    F-1 Visa:

    • University or college
    • High School
    • Private elementary school
    • Seminary
    • Conservatory
    • Other academic institution (incl. language training)

    M-1 visa:

    • Vocational or recognized non-academic institution (other than language training)

     

    How to apply

    Once you secure a place, you should visit your US embassy or consulate website for specific information. However, generally there are a number of steps:

    1. Complete an online application (Form DS-160)
    2. Upload a photo
    3. Print the application confirmation
    4. Schedule an interview with your local embassy or consulate
    5. Take your application with you to the interview

     

    Fees

    You’ll have to pay a non-refundable application fee. The amount depends on the country where you apply. New students can get an F-1 or M-1 visa up to 120 days before the start of their course, but won’t be allowed to enter the US earlier than 30 days before the start date.

     

    What documents do I need for my interview?

    • Passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay)
    • Form DS-160 confirmation page
    • Application fee receipt
    • Form I-20A-B or Form I-20M-N (your school will send you Form I-20 once they’ve put your details in the SEVIS database)
    • Check the instructions on your embassy website as additional documents may be required

     

    Upon finishing your course

    F-1 visa holders can stay in the US for an extra 60 days after completing the course but M-1 visa holders may only remain an extra 30 days after their course is finished.

    This is called a ‘grace period’ and lets you prepare for your departure from the US.

    Good luck!

  • US Guide for International Students

    US guide for international students

    Heading to the US to study? Find out everything you need to know about being an international student in our free US Guide for International Students.

    Topics Include:

    • Getting a Scholarship
    • Applying for a Visa
    • Where to Study
    • Finding Accommodation
    • Opening a US Bank Account
    • Food on a Budget
    • US Taxes for International Students
    • Getting a Job in the US
    • Student Life
    • Facts about the US

    Simply fill in your name and download your FREE  guide straight to your PC or mobile.

  • Sprintax Survey Results are in!

    We always put our customers first and strive to offer the highest quality customer service and meet the highest standards when it comes to customer satisfaction. Developing a service that customers are happy with is not just a one time project but a long process with continuous improvement.

    That’s why every season we carefully plan and implement innovations to enhance the customer experience and make Sprintax software even more easy-to-use and customer-friendly.

    Of course, the best people to ask about our service are our customers. Their feedback is a valuable source for information and new ideas, so we launched a survey recently and asked our customers to tell us what they really think of Sprintax!

    Thousands of Sprintax customers took part in the survey held in June.

    We think the results speak for themselves:

    Optimized-untitled-infographic-copy_1439203140549One of the main reasons customers state for loving our service is the speed and efficiency of the whole process. 90% of customers say Sprintax software is easy-to-use and navigate, and the same percentage would recommend Sprintax to their friends.

    Enough with the numbers! Let’s see what exactly our customers say about us:

    • “Great service! Filing for American taxes had me very nervous but Sprintax made it so easy. Thank you so much!” Kiersten Corradetti, Northwestern University
    • “Very broad coverage of income and deductions; the questions are nicely organized and easy to understand for most of the sections. The live chat agents helped greatly and answered all my questions. Over all, a fantastic experience. Thank you team and I would happily recommend Sprintax over for my friends.” Vignesh Jeyaprakash, Goldey-Beacom College
    • “Very easy and effective. All the confusion that I usually face when filling out regular tax forms were completely avoided. I am thoroughly satisfied and will use this again next year…” Daniel Ekere, Georgia Southern University

    This is a just a small sample of the lovely testimonials we received! To thank those who took part, we decided to give away a $200 Amazon.com Gift Card. The randomly chosen winner is Guruprasad Kuppuswamy. Congrats, Guruprasad and happy spending!

    IMG_0829

    “Sprintax is an excellent easy-to-use, non-resident tax preparation service that saved a lot of my time on preparing NR – federal and state taxes. I found it simple, affordable and adhering to compliance procedures for non-resident students.”

    Guruprasad Kuppuswamy, Northeastern University

    We are more than happy that our efforts gave great results this tax season. Of course, we value both positive and negative feedback from our customers. Your opinion matters so feel free to share it with us anytime!

  • University of California, Berkeley: Tips for International Students

    University of California, Berkeley

    The oldest campus in the University of California system, The University of California, Berkeley, is situated in the city of Berkeley on the east coast of San Francisco Bay, California.

    This prestigious university is ranked number four in the world by the Academic Work Ranking of World Universities and is renowned for its experts in mathematics and science. Scientists at Berkeley University California have discovered 16 chemical elements in total, more than any other university in the world.

     

    Accommodation:

    1. On campus

    There are plenty of campus housing options on offer at Berkeley, including traditional residence halls, suite apartments, and even theme houses that offer accommodation with a particular academic focus. You can find out more here on campus housing options.

     

    2. Rental accommodation

    You don’t have to stay on campus if you don’t choose to; Berkeley offers a wide selection of rental accommodation you can search for on Cal Rentals. You’ll find listings for apartments or you can search for roommates on the site. The website also has a comprehensive list of safety tips, so you won’t unwittingly get scammed out of your rental deposit!

     

    3. University Village

    If you have a family, are married, or are a single parent, Berkeley offers family student accommodation in its University Village.  It’s situated on a 58 acre complex with one, two, and three bedroom apartments and townhouses. It’s just 3.5 miles from campus and has its own child center, recreational center, café, and laundry rooms.

    If you’re a first year student looking for accommodation, then you should start your search here.

     

    Transport:

    1. Rail

    Students are encouraged to use public transport to get to Berkeley due to the lack of parking spaces on campus. One of the most common ways to get into the university from the surrounding areas is the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system that operates from Richmond, Fremont, Bay Point/Concord, and San Francisco/Daly City.

    The BART will drop you at Downtown Berkeley Station one block from the west side of the campus. You can purchase student discount rail tickets from the Parking and Transportation Office.

     

    2. East Bay buses

    The AC Transit buses, serving Alameda County, let you use your Class Pass, which you’ll get once you’re registered as a student and enrolled on your course. You can also use your Class Pass on the Bear Transit shuttle buses that will take you all around campus. The university provides shuttle buses at night also so you can get home safely after-hours.

     

    3. Bicycle

    There are bicycle paths and stands all over campus so it’s likely one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around. It’s pretty secure too, with over 120 parking spaces for bicycles at four secure, covered locations. These facilities are only accessible by entering a secure access code, so you won’t have to worry about your bike getting stolen.

    Student-run organization, BicyCAL, runs events throughout the year and the bicycle co-operative will also help you with parts and maintenance.

     

    Food on a budget:

    1. On campus

    Berkeley offers a wide range of dining options on campus with everything from sushi and sandwiches to vegetarian and vegan. Even if you have an allergy or require a special diet, Berkeley will take care of you.

    It features in the top 20 best colleges in the US for food and the staff are passionate about healthy eating and sustainability. Any student can buy a meal plan, entitling you to a set number of meals on campus throughout the year.

     

    2. Eating out 

    There are lots of great low cost food joints in Berkeley. For a cheap and cheerful breakfast, try Café Durant’s combo plates, full of tasty goodness that won’t break your budget.  Au Coquelet is popular with students for its coffee and weekend brunch menu, and for cheap Asian food, try Wat Mongkolratanaram, an authentic little Thai gem where you’ll get huge portions.

     

    3. Shopping for food

    As well as the standard superstores like Trader Joe’s and Safeway, Berkeley has many local, independent stores and markets where you can find fresh, cheap produce. You’ll find some unique items in Berkeley’s Natural Grocery Co and you can get great discounts when you collect coupons for Monterey Market.

    Free Guide for International Students

    Going to Berkeley? Download our free guide to the US for International Students.