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?
- 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!
Download our International Student Guide to Studying in USA
Hey I'm Stacy!
I'm dealing with US taxes and can't wait to help you prepare your tax return!
I've been working with taxes for like forever, so you can totally trust my expertise.
Sprintax can make things much easier for you.
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