All posts tagged international students

  • Tax Tip: Tax treaties and how they can help you save money at tax time

    The 2014 US tax season is OPEN, and you as an international student are also obliged to file a tax return.

    For most people, except for those who prefer U.S. taxation laws as a Sunday read, tax matters are so overwhelming and hard to understand that even the thought of tax return filing can deepen the usual tax time blues.

    It might be hard to believe it but tax return preparation can actually be stress-free and even easy. Below we have unveiled the power of tax treaties for non-resident international students and how they help you save some money at the tough tax times.

    The power of Tax treaties

    Many international students in U.S. can benefit from tax treaties between the United States and their home countries. If you have never heard of this, do not worry we are here to tell you!

    Tax treaties are specific agreements between USA and other countries. Currently the U.S. tax treaty network covers approximately 66 countries all over the world. Generally, under these tax treaties residents of foreign countries, including foreign students and scholars are taxed at a reduced tax rate and can benefit from exemptions on many different types and items of income. That is a great opportunity to save some money so make sure that you claim the treaty benefits you are eligible for.

    If you are wondering whether there is a tax treaty signed between your home country and the United States, why don’t you take a look at the map below to find out?

    new1Of course, there are a lot of requirements you should meet to be eligible to claim treaty exemptions. In general, they can be summarized in the following:

    • You should meet the treaty eligibility requirements. They vary among countries and specific items of income. For more info, check this:  IRS Publication 901 (pdf)
    •  You should have Social Security number or ITIN number
    •  You should complete the correct tax treaty exemption forms properly.

    If all this sounds too confusing for you – no worries, we can help you. If you use Sprintax software, you do not need to unravel the complicated provisions of the tax treaty – we do that for you! We will provide you with all the necessary (and correct!) tax treaty exemption forms that you have to fill in. Quick and easy.

    Register here to get started!

  • Top 5 Tax Myths International Students believe in – DEBUNKED!

    George Orwell once said: “Myths that are believed in tend to become true”.

    Well, there might be a grain of truth in what he said but not when it comes to taxes and the U.S. taxation laws.

    As an international student you are not supposed to know the US tax procedures concerning tax return filing by heart but at least you should be aware of the Top 5 tax myths that most international students tend to believe in. So do not walk around believing in “old wives’ tax tales and check the most common tax myths DEBUNKED here!

    Myth 1: Students are not obliged to file US tax return
    Busted: Regardless of the fact that you probably do not classify as an U.S. citizen or you have received no income throughout the previous year, you are required by the U.S. taxation law to file a tax return. Remember this!

    Myth 2: You can file your taxes any time during the year
    Busted: You should complete and submit your tax documents to the IRS by 15th of April for any income earned in the previous year. That means that tax returns for 2014 must be postmarked by 15th of April 2015.

    Myth 3: Not filing your tax return will not have any consequence for you
    Busted: Even if you haven’t earned any income and therefore you do not owe any money to IRS, not filing your taxes can still influence your future plans. You are obliged to file your tax return by the U.S. law and not complying with the law may affect your future visa applications. So why risk your visa status or even your permanent residency? Be sure to FILE your taxes!

    What’s more, if you have received any income during the tax year you could be entitled to get some of the taxes you paid back. If you do not file your tax return, you lose the opportunity to apply for your tax refund and get some extra money. Not to mention the penalties that IRS can impose on you.

    Myth 4: Non-resident students can avail of same tax credits and deductions as the residents
    Busted:Unlike resident aliens who avail of the same tax benefits which are available to the U.S. citizens, non-resident aliens cannot claim the same tax credits and deductions; such as filing a tax return online or education credits, for instance.

    But you can still be eligible to take advantage of ‘tax treaties’ signed between the United States and your home country, so make sure you check this. Sprintax has all credits and tax treaties relevant to non-resident international students already built in making Sprintax the easy option for tax filing for non-residents.

    Myth 5: You can file electronically
    Busted: Unlike the U.S. residents, the non-residents for tax purposes cannot file their tax return electronically. And by “electronically” we mean that you cannot submit your documents to IRS electronically. You can however rely on the help of an online tax preparation tool as Sprintax to help you with the complicated tax documents (and you better do!) but once done, you should print and post them to IRS.

    You have more burning questions for taxes? No worries, contact our great team- they got all the answers!

  • The New 2014 Tax Year Is Open

    Tax just got real

    Ready…Tax…Sprint!

    IRS announced that the new 2014 tax filing season is open! We are very excited to share with you, that Sprintax is already up and running as we speak! Our team worked very hard, determined to get Sprintax ready and available for you from day one of the new tax filing season.

    • Are you resident or non-resident for tax purposes?
    • Do any international tax treaties apply in your case?
    • Do you have to file a State tax return?
    • Sounds confusing?

    If you’re not an accounting major (or even if you are!), it’s only natural US taxes seem tricky to you. Well it’s not for us!

    Sprintax is designed for international students and scholars in the US, to help you prepare your Federal, State and FICA tax returns and guarantees you stay fully-compliant with the IRS. What’s more, Sprintax looks through 350 Income tax deductions, international tax treaty benefits, personal allowances and different tax credits; to make sure you get the maximum legal income tax refund.

    All you need to do is answer a few easy-to-understand questions. Sprintax will guide you through the step-by-step process, and if you need any assistance, there is a 24/7 live chat help available. After the process is completed, Sprintax will instantly generate your documents and voila! All that’s left for you to do is sign the forms and post them to the tax office. It could not be any easier!

    Sprintax will safely store your records in your account for future reference. If you need to prepare tax returns for previous years, that’s ok too – Sprintax will do it for you using the same account. The great thing is, as a past user Sprintax will already have your personal details, and the process will be even faster! Check out the Video Demo to get an idea of how Sprintax works.

    Are you still reading this post? Get started with your taxes! The sooner you file your tax return, the better! If you are due a tax refund, you might just receive it in time for Spring break!

    And don’t forget to let us know if you enjoyed your Sprintax experience by completing a short survey.

  • NAFSA 2014 Annual Conference & Expo at San Diego – Passion for international education

    If you wonder what event gathered international educators from all over the world in one place – the answer is the  NAFSA 2014 Annual Conference & Expo.

    This year the event took place in San Diego, California and brought together approximately 10,000 people – all passionate for international education, new business opportunities and knowledge.

    The conference program was made up of  – 45 workshops, more than 200 sessions with  inspiring guest speakers, experts in international education or related business fields; open meetings and discussions with attendees from more than 89 countries.

    The NAFSA  Conference & Expo always has a great atmosphere and gives organizations the opportunity to meet other educators and future business partners from all over the world. Its a chance to share experience and ideas, to meet people with similar interests and goals, to broaden both  educational and personal horizons. New opportunities were discussed and new partnerships established.

    Being a part of the educational world and a partner to US universities, helping their international students with their tax refunds, Sprintax could not miss the NAFSA San Diego conference. The Sprintax team was happy to catch up with some old friends and meet new ones; to discuss new ideas and projects, dedicated to the well-being of international students in USA.

    In order to make the event even more exciting, Sprintax organized an iPad competition. Congratulations to the lucky winner Doug Podoll, the director of International Education for the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia!

     The Sprintax team was really inspired being a part of NAFSA 2014 Annual Conference & Expo. As John Dewey, a prominent American educational reformer, once said – “Education is life itself”.  We look forward to seeing you all again next year in Boston!

  • Internship interview tips

    The end of the school year is just a few weeks away so if you are thinking about starting a summer internship now it’s a good time to start looking for one.

    First thing you need to do is check on the Internet, your university or at a local employment bureau to get a general idea of what’s being offered on the market. When you find something that interests you, don’t hesitate and send your documents. Your resume is the first chance to show an employer that you’ve got the skills and experience that they need.
    It’s your job to make sure it is up-to-date. It would be beneficial if you ask an old employer or a teacher to write you a recommendation. It won’t take long and it will increase your chances.

    When asked for an interview you have to make sure you are well prepared for the meeting, nothing ruins your chances like a bad interview. First impressions play a major role in how you are being perceived by the employer. Don’t be late! Make sure you look nice and clean. When meeting with the interviewer put on your best smile and present yourself. Offer to hand shake, this is a sign of good etiquette. Be confident and show an open body language. What this means is that you shouldn’t cross your arms and legs, this can only make you look bored and reserved. Look towards the person in front of you, eye contact is very important. Don’t just stand there looking around the room, this will show lack of interest and disrespect. Interviewers tend to begin the interview with an open question like “Tell me something about yourself” or “How would you describe yourself” – being an international student you can start by saying something about where you are from; why did you come to the US and why did you choose the major you have chosen; concentrate on the qualities you have that will make you suitable for the position you are applying for, but remember that your answers have to be short and concise, you are not the only applicant for the job and the interviewer may have further interviews to hold.

    Another question that you should be prepared in advance for is “What do you know about our company” or “Why do you want to have an internship in our company”. You should always research the company and position you are interviewing for in advance of the meeting, you should always be prepared and know about the company and its history. Check out the company’s website, recent achievements or awards and positions on the market, any charity work they do. Recent articles written about them.

    Another common interview question is “What qualities do you have that match our requirements for the internship?” – This is a very direct question and very important one. Explain how your academic and previous experience meets their needs; add any additional qualities you may possess that will be beneficial to the position, for example “I’m a very open person and work really well in a team; I’ve worked with clients before and understand the approach a person should have when working with people; My academic achievements will be very helpful for the job, I’ve been taking classes and courses in that field, which gives me the necessary knowledge to understand what I am selling and how it meets the customer’s needs”

    Keep in mind that you should always remain involved. Don’t let it be one way conversation, but also don’t interrupt. When asked about the salary – know your price. This question always makes people nervous, you should research the average salary for similar roles in advance of the interview. Websites such as glassdoor.com provide an overall indication of what company employees earn.

    And one more thing – think about what you are going to say before you answer, stuttering and not well-thought answers can ruin your chances of securing the internship.

    Put on your best smile and be confident!

  • Tips for International Students on getting Scholarship and advantages to have it

    “Once upon a time…” and  “Happily ever after” are the core parts of every fairytale.

    Getting a scholarship can help make a fairytale a reality for your University life as an international student in the USA.

    Here are some tips on getting a Scholarship and advantages it can bring:

    Research – Find and apply for as many scholarships as you can – it’s free money for your education! Start researching early, meet deadlines, and you may be on your way to scholarship success. You can check the information about scholarships in several ways, for example contacting the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend, the public library or even online. Just be careful, double check everything and make sure the offers you receive are legitimate.

    Keep a record of all the documents – This is very important and can be applied to all paperwork involved with becoming an international student in the US..

    Meet the terms and conditions for applying for a Scholarship – Usually you can not apply until you have been accepted into the course. You can pay your tuition fees and travel expenses without a scholarship. That way, if you do win a grant, you can pay back your local bank loan or have a bit of extra spending money.

    Apply for as many as you can – yes, it will take a bit more time, however it is free of charge and it will increase your chances.

    Be yourself – Personalize your essay or letters to the principal – do not let somebody else to write it. Do not rush yourself – just take your time, be positive and steady. Don’t forget to list all of your awards, community work and career experience. And of course to mention your impact on other people and values that you have.

    Give to your online profile a professional look – Google your name and make sure that there is nothing disturbing in the results. Use a professional email address (for example firstname.lastname@gmail.com). Clean up the content of your online accounts, removing inappropriate and immature material.

    Make a photocopy of your application before mailing it – Send the application by certified mail, return receipt requested or with delivery confirmation.

    Have a back up plan – The scholarship amount will not cover all your expenses .Even if you are lucky enough to get a full scholarship, you will still have a lot of expenses (like food, traveling, books, entertainment etc)

    Good luck!

    Retaining your Scholarship is as important as receiving one you should also always remember that the next step after getting a Scholarship is beginning your career.

    Use every single moment to attract the admiration of your teachers with bright ideas and a smart approach.

     Attend all classes and always be punctual – this will make a good impression. The professors role is to teach and test you. Show them your respect and be on time.

    Get involved in campus activities – There is no better way to practice a new language and make more friends than by simply throwing yourself into real campus life. Check the opportunities that the University offers and maybe you will discover something that you really like and makes you feel happy.

    Spend more time with your roommates/dorm-mates – Having life in a foreign country and being an international student can be a stressful but exciting experience. It’s your choice how successful and worthwhile you make it. Roommates and dorm-mates will be the people you see the most during your freshman year. They are the golden source that can help you become familiar with American life quickly, to improve your English and to make the USA feel like a second home.

     And one more thing – do not forget to share all of your good experiences with us afterwards. We would love to hear your fairytale.

     Remember with or without scholarship, there are so many ways to make your time studying abroad amazing.

     

  • SEVP – What is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) (Infographic)

    SEVP - What is the student and exchange visitor information system (SEVIS)
  • Sprintax is now even better!

    Sprintax is now even better

    Great news for all international students and scholars in the US!

  • The crucial difference between a CV and a resume

    The crucial difference between a CV and a resume
  • How foreign students deal with stress

    How foreign students deal with stress

    How international students to cope with stress caused by the brand new environment

    Continue reading “How foreign students deal with stress” »