All posts in Tax Tips

  • On a Sports Scholarship in the US? Here’s What You Need to Know!

    international student sports scholarship tax

    Many athletes dream of having an opportunity to move to the US on a sports scholarship and study in one of their world famous universities. If you are good enough to have been offered a scholarship, here’s what you need to know about taxes!

    Studying in the US is expensive and while most universities offer scholarships and many accept applications from international students. Over 600 US universities offer $20,000 worth of scholarships to international students. If you’d like to read more about scholarships for international students in the US check out this short post from the Sprintax blog.

    If you are an international student, in the US on a sports or athletic scholarship you are most likely considered a nonresident and you’re legally obliged to file a federal tax return even if you have received even $1cent.

    You may also be obliged to file a state tax return, depending on your personal circumstances.

    That’s right! And you could get in a lot of trouble if you don’t file. This can affect your ability to return to the US or complete your studies. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve a sports scholarship. Why ruin it by failing to file your taxes?

    If you’re on a sports scholarship in the US, here are some tax tips from Sprintax:


    When should I start preparing my US tax return?

    It’s never a good idea to leave important things like tax filing until the last minute. Filing on time also means you can receive your tax refund sooner!

    Yes, the deadline for filing is the 15th of April but you should prepare your documents in advance so that everything runs smoothly.


    What forms must I file for my US tax return?

    To file a fully compliant tax return, you must make sure you are submitting the correct forms.

    Even if you have earned nothing during your time spent in the US, you must file a Form 8843 with the IRS.

    If you did receive money while in the US during the tax year, you will have to file a Federal Tax Return in addition to your Form 8843.

    Depending on your personal situation, you may also have to file a State Tax Return. Sprintax is the only online tax preparation software that covers both Federal and State tax prep for nonresidents in the US – so don’t worry, we can help you find out what forms you must file.


    How do I know what my residency status is?

    This is very important.

    It is not possible to file a fully compliant tax return without knowing your residency status.

    The two most common tax residency statuses are; nonresident and resident.

    If you are an international student in the US on an F, J, M or Q visa – you are most likely considered a nonresident alien for tax purposes.

    If you’re unsure of your residency status, Sprintax will help you figure that out too.

    international student sports scholarship

    What will I need to file my US tax return as an international student?

    • Passport
    • Visa/immigration status information – this includes Form DS-2019 (for J visa holders) or a Form I-20 (for F visa holders)
    • Income forms – W2 Form, 1042-S and/or 1099
    • Social security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
    • If you filed a tax return with the IRS last year, you will need a copy of that tax return.

    If you don’t have an ITIN, Sprintax can help you apply for one.

    Not sure if you need it? Watch this short video and find out!

    Make sure you have all the right documents. The sooner you start preparing, the better – that way you can contact employers if you haven’t received your payment documents for example.

    Filing taxes is challenging but Sprintax offer a service that makes preparing your tax return easy! If you’re on a sports scholarship and you’d like help with getting your tax return ready for filing season, contact us today.

  • US tax season survival guide – everything you need to know

    US international student tax return

    15 US tax questions answered for international students

    Tax season is fast approaching and every international student in the US must file a tax return by the April 15 deadline.

    But which tax return should you file? Are you entitled to any tax credits or deductions? And what happens if you make a mistake on your tax return?

    Here’s everything you need to know to survive tax season!

    First off, do I have to pay tax in the US?

    Yes! As an international student in the US, you will likely have to pay tax on the following types of income:

    • Wages and compensation
    • Salaries
    • Tips
    • Interest
    • Dividends
    • Some scholarships/fellowship grants
    • Prizes/awards

    N.B. This will depend on your individual circumstances.

    Do I have to file tax forms?

    Yes! Non-resident international students studying in the US must at least file a Form 8843 with the IRS each year, even if you did not earn any income. It’s the law!

    If you’ve earned income during the year, it’s likely that you will also have to file a Federal tax return.

    When you file your tax return you must report all sources of your income to the government – including the tax you have already paid and what you still owe. It’s also an opportunity to claim any deductions that you may qualify for.

    At the end of the process, you calculate the total tax you should have paid. If you paid more than what you owe during the year, you will be entitled to a refund. On the other hand, if you didn’t pay enough, you must pay the difference.

    US tax questions answered Sprintax

    I didn’t earn any income. Do I still have to file tax paperwork?

    Yes. Even if you have not earned any income, if you have spent time in the US as a non-resident alien on an F or J visa, you must complete a Form 8843 and send it to the IRS.

    Which tax form should I file?

    As an international student it’s likely you will fall into the ‘non-resident’ tax category which means that the tax return you need to file is a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Alternatively, if you have not earned any US income, you must complete a Form 8843.

    When is the deadline to file my income tax returns?

    The filing deadline for individual US Federal income tax returns is Monday April 15.

    How can I determine my residency status?

    It’s vital to determine your residency status in order to file a compliant tax return. The most common tax residency statuses are ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident alien’. Most international students who are studying in the US on F, J, M or Q visas are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes. When you prepare your tax return with Sprintax, our software will determine your residency status based on the information that you provide.

    Will the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ affect me?

    The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ has wide ranging effects for all US taxpayers – particularly non-residents such as international students and those in America on a J-1 programme.

    The primary change relates to the removal of what’s known as the ‘personal exemption’. This has lead to overall taxable income increasing for all non-residents.

    Prior to the bill’s introduction, every non-resident who was working in the US was entitled to earn up to $4,050 without paying tax, through the personal exemption. However, the personal exemption was reduced from $4,050 to $0 in January 2018.

    The removal of the personal exemption means that, for some non-residents, Federal tax refunds will be reduced. However, the US has tax treaties with over 65 other countries. International students and scholars can also potentially avail of these tax treaties when applying for their Federal tax refund.

    Sprintax International Student tax returns

    Do I need to file a State tax return?

    Depending on your personal circumstances, you may also have to file a State tax return(s).

    The average State tax refund that Sprintax customers received last year was $328.

    Sprintax can also help you to figure out whether or not you have to file a State tax return. In order to claim your tax refund you will first need to file your tax return.

    What will I need in order to prepare my tax return?

    In order to prepare your US tax return you will need:

    (1) Your residency status

    (2) Your Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

    (3) Your income documents, of which there are 3 main types:

    • A W2 form (officially known as a Wage and Tax Statement) is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form used to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld. You should receive this from your employer at the end of January. It will state the previous year’s earnings and tax withheld
    • The 1042-S is typically sent if you received some form of taxable scholarship from your school or institution, such as, for example a stipend or housing allowance
    • The 1099 is less common, but you may have this if you received rental income, investment income or if you worked as an independent contractor

    What happens if I don’t file a tax return?

    If you don’t file a tax return, you may be subject to penalties and interest.

    The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed for every month your return is late, (up to a maximum of 25%). If you file more than 60 days after the due date, the minimum penalty is $205 or 100% of your unpaid tax, whichever is less.

    Failure to comply with your tax obligations may also result in you being denied a US visa in the future.

    I filed an incorrect tax return last year. What can I do?

    If you discover that you have filed an incorrect tax return, you will need to correct it by filing an amended tax return (generally Form 1040-X). Sprintax can help you prepare your amended tax return.

    Amendments can currently be made for tax returns (1040X) for the 2017 tax year. Sprintax can help you make required amendments to your 2018 tax return from February 2019.

    I should have filed a tax return for last year. Can I file it now?

    Yes, you should file your tax return as soon as possible. Sprintax can help you prepare overdue tax returns.

    What is Sprintax?

    Sprintax is the only online Federal and State self-prep tax software for non-residents in the US.

    When you create a Sprintax account, our system will assist you in preparing fully compliant Federal and State tax returns and also enable you to use any tax deduction and benefits that will allow you to maximize your legal tax refund.

    Sprintax is also the ‘go-to’ tax preparation software for numerous major universities in the US including, Columbia, Arizona State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Cornell. 

    Easy US non-resident tax

    How can Sprintax help me?

    When you create your Sprintax account you’ll be asked a few easy questions. Once you complete the short form, based on the information you provided, you will then be able to download your fully completed and compliant 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (non-resident tax return).

    With Sprintax you can:

    • Save time and stress!
    • Determine your residency status
    • Prepare a fully compliant US tax return
    • Maximize your State tax refund
    • Avail of our 24/7 Vita Qualified Live Chat facility

    Can I file my tax return with Turbo Tax?

    Turbo Tax offer a service for US tax residents. Most international students are considered non-resident for tax purposes and so can’t file their tax return with Turbo Tax. Sprintax is the non-resident partner of choice for Turbo Tax.

    Join the more than 250,000 people who have prepared their US tax return with Sprintax!

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

    State tax refunds Sprintax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sprintax state tax refunds

    International students & tax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    State tax refunds

    California state tax refunds Sprintax

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

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

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

    The answer to that question is yes!

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

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

    Top 10 average State tax refunds

    top 10 state tax refunds Sprintax

    Claiming your State tax refund

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

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

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

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

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

    File your US tax return the easy way with Sprintax

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sprintax US tax form 8843

    First things first. What is a Form 8843?

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

    Who should file a Form 8843?

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

    How can I fill out this form?

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

    Part 1

    file Form 8843 with Sprintax

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

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

    File your Form 8843 the easy way!

    Part 2

    Form 8843 Sprintax

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

    Parts 3, 4 & 5

    file US tax with Sprintax

    File US tax forms with Sprintax

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

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

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

    What is the deadline for filing a Form 8843?

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

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

    Do I have to file any other tax documents?

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

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

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

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

    Sprintax will guide you through the tax filing process, firstly determining your tax residency status, and then identifying which forms you need to complete based on your own personal circumstances.

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

    File your US tax documents the easy way today!

  • Using TurboTax to Claim Your J1 Tax Refund is Illegal

    Testimonial image for Sprintax

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

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

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

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

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

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

    However, TurboTax is a service for US residents only.

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

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

    trouble meme

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    She won’t be making that mistake again!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    This could leave you with a hefty tax bill.

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

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

    The AOTC is only available under strict conditions.

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

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


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

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

    So the more help you get, the better.

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


    How do I avoid issues with the IRS?

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

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

    Here is how it works:

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

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


    What’s the benefit of filing my tax return?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The average US refund is currently $800.

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

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

    Bottom line?

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


    What now?

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

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

    The easiest way to file is by using Sprintax.

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

    With Sprintax you get:

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

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

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

  • Phew! Tax season is finally over! But what should I do now?

    Here are the tax records you need to keep and how long you should keep them for

    When tax season ends it can feel like a big weight has been lifted off your shoulders – an opportunity to exhale and relax (until it all starts again next year that is!) But before you expel all tax topics completely from your mind, there is one final task you must complete.

    Carefully store all of your tax records!

    It’s very important that you organize and store all of your tax records and documentation – including a copy of your tax return.

    Here’s why:

    (1) Audits

    If you’re ever selected by the IRS for an audit you will need to have access to your tax returns and the documents you used to complete them. If the IRS does audit you, they’ll generally look back at your returns over the previous three years so you’ll want to have copies of the returns you filed for those years close at hand. You’ll also need your W2s, 1042-S’s, 1099s, receipts, or any paperwork that will support your tax deductions or credits that you may have claimed on those returns.


    (2) Amendments

    After you file your tax return, you may discover that you need to amend it due to an error or a tax break that you should have claimed. In such cases you will need a copy of the return you filed along with all documents (such as your W-2, 1042-S, 1099) and supporting information (like receipt and statements) you used to prepare the return.

    (3) Residency

    Good tax record keeping will also be useful if you decide to apply for permanent residency (a green card). During the application process you will need to provide evidence of continuous compliance with the US tax law by enclosing the tax return(s) you’ve filed.

    (4) Future returns

    Tax returns you have filed in previous years can help you in preparing future tax returns. For example, you may need to refer to previous figures like refund amounts, deductions, or tax due etc.

    sprintax washington

    How long should I keep tax records?

    According to the statute of limitations outlined by the IRS, the basic rule is that you should keep all of your relevant tax documents for at least 3 years after the date in which you filed. In other words, if you filed a return in 2017 you should keep all tax documents relating to it safe until 2020.

    In some cases, you may need to hang onto your records for longer than three years. For instance, you should plan on keeping tax forms for retirement accounts such as IRAs for seven years after the account is completely wiped out.

    Additionally, if you buy or sell property, you should keep property records until the statute of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property.

    Our advice? Keep all your US tax records at least until 3 years after you have left the US!

    How to keep tax records?

    The law doesn’t require any special record-keeping system for all taxpayers. You can keep your records in any manner that works best for you. If you plan on keeping your records for a long time you should consider scanning your documents and keeping a backup of the files.

    sprintax time square

    Filing your return

    All international students and scholars in the US are required by law to file a tax return. Sprintax can help you to do exactly that. Our easy-to-use system removes all of the stress from the tax filing process. Plus we’ll even help you to retrieve your maximum legal tax refund!

    Not bad!

    Get started now!

  • What to do if you miss the tax deadline

    US TAX Deadline

    Step one: Don’t panic!

    Missed the April 17th deadline? Don’t panic! Nearly 30% of taxpayers are unable to organize their documents before the deadline. But you can still fix this! Here are a few important things you should consider if you missed the tax deadline.

    (1) If you are due a refund or your tax return shows no tax liability

    Tax refund

    If you’re entitled to a refund or your tax return shows no tax liability, you may not be fined for filing late. If you’re due a refund, you should file as soon as possible to get it. You may be entitled to a refund if you had too much tax withheld from your wages or you qualify for certain tax credits.

    Sprintax will help you determine if you are due a refund.

    It’s important to note that there is a time restriction on claiming a federal tax refund. So, if you don’t file within three years from the due date of your tax return (17th of April, 2018 for 2017 tax year), you may not receive your refund.

    In addition, there are some tax refund policy changes for late filing taxpayers that the IRS is implementing and these may affect how quickly you will receive your refund.

    (2) If you owe tax

    USA flag and American dollars. American flag blowing in the wind and 100 dollars banknotes in the background. USA flag and American dollars. American flag blowing in the wind and 100 dollars banknotes in the background

    If you have underpaid tax, keep in mind that both late filing and late payment penalties may be charged on top of your tax liability. The failure-to-file penalty is the bigger portion of your penalty, and after 60 days of delay its minimum amount will be $205. So if you have not filed form 4868 – Extension to file – you may need to submit your tax return to the IRS as soon as possible in order to avoid a further increase of your fine.

    Your failure-to-pay penalty will depend on the amount of tax you owe. The percentage of the penalty increases over time, so even if you are not ready with your documents, the more tax you pay on time (before the deadline) the less interest and penalty charges you will accrue.

    If you are unable to pay your tax on time, you can choose to enter into installment agreement with the IRS. There are certain conditions you will have to meet and Sprintax tax experts can help you if you choose to request an installment agreement from the IRS.


    If you missed the deadline, the best thing you can do is to prepare your tax documents and file your tax return as soon as possible!

    Sprintax can help you to prepare your tax return and determine if you’re entitled to a refund.


  • Moving to the US to study? Here’s 10 things to expect

    From your daunting first day to excelling in the classroom – top tips to make the most of college life

    Are you planning a move to the US for study? You’re not alone.

    In fact, the US attracts 1,000,000 international students to its colleges and universities every year. And it’s very easy to see why.

    American universities are amongst the best in the world and offer truly high-class education opportunities to their students. Away from the campus, the US boasts a large mix of cultures which makes it a really interesting place to study and live.

    But moving to a new country is always a big deal for any international student. And it can be hard to know what to expect.

    With this in mind, here’s 10 things to expect when you arrive in the US to study.

    1 – You might freak out at first!

    Let’s face it. There’s a lot to do at first when you move to a new country.

    You’ve got to move into your accommodation and unpack. Next you have to familiarize yourself with the local area. And then you’ve got to get set up with supplies, college necessities, a new phone, a bank account ……..

    And then it hits you. ‘I’m an international student in America. And I’m a long way from home.’

    But don’t freak out! This is when the exciting stuff starts to happen. Go out and meet new people.

    It’s likely there’ll be lots of international students that are going through the same things you are. Talk to them. Pretty soon you’ll be feeling right at home in your new surroundings!

    2 – You can hit the ground running

    ‘Orientation Week’ or ‘Welcome Week’ can be a really useful time to help you get used to your new surroundings. During this week you’ll have a great opportunity to explore your new campus and find your bearings. You’ll also be properly introduced to your course, tutors, and peers.

    Make sure you use this time to sign up for lots of on-campus clubs and societies as these are a good way to meet people.

    3 – There are top-notch student support facilitates available on campus

    Studying in the US is no doubt a rewarding experience, but navigating your way through day-to-day issues can sometimes be tough. The aim of an international student office is to assist students, just like you, to adapt to their new environment.

    That’s why they offer a wide range of student services such as:

    • English-language practice courses
    • Orientations, and trainings
    • Financial aid
    • Career advice
    • On-campus psychiatry and counselling

    They can also help to answer any questions you may have regarding your visa status, housing, employment possibilities, health concerns and more.

    4 – You’ll find cutting-edge technology

    American universities pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology and research techniques.

    If you’re chosen discipline doesn’t directly involve science or engineering, don’t worry. You’ll still have tonnes of opportunity to become skilled in using the latest technology to conduct research, as well as obtain and process information.

    5 – Life in college is relaxed…. until the grading begins!

    Life on campus is usually pretty relaxed and flexible. In fact, it’s normal for US students to work classes into their own schedules.

    Most students are not obliged to show up at every single class, or even to stay for an entire lecture. But, just because you can avoid and skip classes, doesn’t mean you should!

    Remember, the importance of your grades and Grade Point Average (GPA – an average score based on the grades and results of every class you’ve taken during your studies) can’t be overstated.

    The key is to find the right balance between your studies and enjoying campus life.

    6 – You’ll acclimatize to the culture sooner than you think!

    If you like sports, you’re going to feel right at home in the US. Between all of the professional sports like basketball, American football, ice hockey, baseball and soccer, there is something on pretty much every night of the week!

    And Americans take their college sports pretty seriously too. In fact, some of the biggest stadiums in the world were built for US college teams.

    Rooting for your college team is a great way to feel part of the community. Not only will this help you to have conversations with native students, it will also provide you with an authentic experience of American culture.

    Away from the sports field, you’ll find no shortage of options to keep you entertained. America is at the cutting edge of the music, film and literary worlds. So it won’t take you too long to find something you like.

    If you like going out on the town, remember that the legal drinking age in the US is 21. And you’ll need a proper ID to get into most bars and clubs.

    7 – Opening a bank account may take some time

    You’ll find a US bank account to be very useful, especially if you plan to work part-time, pay bills or keep savings. Setting up a bank account can take some time, as there a number of steps to complete. So it’s a good idea to start this process soon after you arrive in the US.

    Here’s further information on how to set-up a US bank account and some more tips for international students in America.

    8 – You shouldn’t work too hard!

    You may be intending to search for employment in your spare time and earn some extra cash. But be careful, as not all types of employment are eligible under the conditions of an F-1 (student) visa.

    For instance, F-1 students who want to work off campus can only do so in roles that are related to their studies. Most of the other off campus roles are not authorized under F-1 and you will need permission by a DSO (Designated School Official) in special circumstances to do this work.

    F-1 students are entitled, however, to find employment on campus.

    But it’s important to note that while school is in regular session, a student can’t work for more than 20 hours per week. During extended holidays, breaks and summer sessions, you can work full time (up to 40 hours per week).  If you are confused whether a job is considered on-campus employment, ask the employer before you accept the role.

    9 – You’re going to have to file a tax return

    You may find this a bit strange if you are normally resident in a country where you don’t have a tax filing obligation.

    Yes, every international student is required to file a tax return (federal and state, if required) for each year present in the US, and pay tax if they earn income. In fact, it’s one of the terms of the student visa.

    And even if you don’t earn money during your time in the US, you will still need to file with the IRS by the April 17 deadline.

    Many international students find the prospect of filing a tax return to be quite daunting and this is completely understandable. Fortunately help is on hand!

    Sprintax can file your fully compliant Federal, State and FICA tax return. We can also help you to retrieve your maximum legal tax refund. And, if you’re confused about your US tax obligations, Sprintax can answer any questions you have. Get in contact with us today!

    We’ll take care of the complex tax requirements so all you have to do is enjoy your time studying in America!

    10 – You’ll have a blast

    You’re studying in the United States after all!

    Each day you will have opportunities, not only to broaden your knowledge in top academic institutions, but also to collect countless life experiences that will stay with you forever.

    Most universities offer a variety of student clubs and organizations to meet every interest. You’ll also have the chance to immerse yourself in American culture, meet new people and make new friends.

    What could be more exciting? Enjoy!

  • Do I need an ITIN?

    As an international student in the US, it is important that you understand the tax requirements of your visa.  Here we explain everything you need to know about ITIN and how we can assist you.

    What is an ITIN?

    An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you expect to receive taxable Scholarship, Fellowship or Grant Income and you do not qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN) you must apply for an ITIN. ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a US filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.

    Why do I need an ITIN?

    There are a number of circumstances why someone may require an ITIN.  Individuals falling under the following categories that do not have, have never had, or are ineligible for, a US Social Security Number may require an ITIN:

    • A Nonresident alien expecting to receive taxable Scholarship, Fellowship or Grant Income and who is not eligible for an SSN
    • A Nonresident alien required to obtain an ITIN to claim a tax treaty benefit;
    • A Nonresident alien filing a US tax return and who is not eligible for an SSN;
    • A Nonresident alien filing a US tax return only to claim a refund;
    • A US resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a US tax return and not eligible for an SSN

    What documents do I need?

    The IRS has streamlined the number of documents it will accept as proof of identity to obtain an ITIN. There are now 13 acceptable documents. An original, or a certified copy, of an unexpired passport is the only document that is accepted for both identity and foreign status. If you do not have a passport, you must provide a combination of current documents that contain expiration dates.

    The IRS will accept documents issued within 12 months of the application if no expiration date is normally available. The documents must also show your name and photograph if they support your identity, and your permanent domicile (place of birth, permanent foreign address), to support your claim of foreign status. The IRS will accept certified copies of a combination (two or more) of the following documents, in lieu of a passport:

    • National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date)
    • US driver’s license
    • Civil birth certificate
    • Foreign driver’s license
    • US state identification card
    • Foreign voter’s registration card
    • US military identification card
    • Foreign military identification card Visa
    • US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
    • Medical records (dependents – under 14 years old – only)
    • School records (dependents and/or students – under 25 years old – only)

    It’s important to note that, if you are sending your ITIN application with a tax return, all documents will need to be certified by a Designated School Official (DSO) or by a certifying acceptance agent.

    Sprintax will help you to select the proper set of documents for your application.

    When can I expect to receive my ITIN?

    It can take 6 to 8 weeks and sometimes longer to obtain an ITIN. And it’s important to be aware that it can often take more than one application before you successfully receive an ITIN. The IRS is generally efficient in informing applicants of any issues with the process. Once your application is complete you will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number.

    How Sprintax can help!

    Sprintax will guide you through the process of applying for your ITIN.

    There are two options for applying for an ITIN with Sprintax.

    If you have received income in the US without an ITIN or SSN, the Sprintax NR service will help you to obtain an ITIN and to file a federal tax return.

    Meanwhile, the Sprintax ITIN service is for students who need an ITIN before the end of the tax year so that they can receive their scholarship.

    To get started, you can register at: