All posts in Sprintax

  • 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. 

  • 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!

  • 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