Tax Rules for International Students in the US

tax tips for students

The tax you pay in the US is determined by your status as a resident for tax purposes.

What is a Non-Resident Alien?

Typically, a non-resident alien is someone who is legally present in the US but doesn’t have a green card. Non-resident aliens (NRAs) must pay income tax on income earned from a US source. If you are a non-resident alien, you must keep records of all sources of income so the IRS can see proof of what should be taxed and what should be exempt.

 

Students in F-1 and J-1 status are typically considered NRAs for the first 5 years in student status, including the tax year (January 1 – December 31). In the 6th year, you become a resident for tax purposes.

Scholars in J-1 status are considered NRAs for the first 2 years so scholars who arrived in 2015 or later are non-residents for the 2016 tax year.

Other non-immigrant statuses: Dependent on the substantial presence test

 

FORM 8843

Required of all Fs and Js—even without any income

All non-immigrants in F or J status that are deemed “non-residents for tax purposes” must mail a form 8843  if they were in the U.S. for any part of the tax year, January 1 to December 31.

If you didn’t have any income, you can mail this form alone. If you did have income, the 8843 form is to be included with other forms in your non-resident tax return.

 

What is a tax return and what’s the deadline?

Your tax return reports your income and taxes withheld, if any, during the tax year (January 1 – December 31). If you’ve overpaid taxes, you’ll get a refund and if there’s a shortfall, you’ll owe money. If you work in the U.S. or have other U.S. sourced income, you may have taxes withheld.

April 18, 2016 is the deadline for your 2015 tax return.

Every year, you have to file an income tax return with the federal tax authorities. Each state has its own tax regulations so you also may need to file a state tax return.

Sprintax can help you prepare both your federal and state tax returns.

Sources of income include:

  • On-campus and off-campus employment
  • Scholarship/fellowship grants/stipends
  • Graduate or teaching assistantships
  • Salary for a teaching or research appointment

Tax Treaties

You may be also eligible for a tax treaty that may limit your taxable income. Sprintax can check for this when you fill in your details.

 

Documents you’ll need:

tax documents

  • Passport
  • Visa/Immigration info-including Form DS-2019 or Form I-20
  • Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if any)
  • U.S. entry and exit dates for all visits
  • Tax-related forms

 

Tax forms

You may receive one or more of the following—or none— depending on your circumstances!

 

W-2:

W-2 form reports your wages from each employer.

1042-S:

1)  Reports scholarships, fellowships, grants, awards and any other payment made to you by a U.S. source that was NOT compensation for services, i.e. for which you did NOT work. If your scholarship or fellowship provided tuition exemption or reduction, but no stipend, you will not receive a 1042-S form since you didn’t receive a payment that is considered income.

2) Also reports earned income that is exempt from tax because of a tax treaty between your country of residence and the U.S.

1099:

Bank interest, stocks, funds

 

Preparing your tax return

You can use Sprintax to prepare your non-resident tax return.

Sprintax will also:

  • Determine your tax residency status
  • Identify what forms you need to file
  • Apply any tax treaty benefits
  • Complete and generate the forms you need, along with mailing instructions
  • 24/7 Live Chat help

 

Sprintax can also:

  • Prepare state tax returns (for a fee)
  • Generate form 843 to request a refund of Social Security / FIC payments if withheld in error (for a fee).

 

Create a Sprintax Account

  1. To get started, click here to create an account
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Stacy
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. Check out my blog posts and feel free to ask me any questions.

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