All posts by Kristina Valcheva

  • The ultimate tax guide for international students on OPT

    tax guide for students on OPT

    (Last updated: 23 Feb 2024)

    Are you an OPT/CPT program participant?

    While doing your taxes might not be the most exciting aspect of international student life in the US, the importance of filing your federal tax return correctly cannot be underestimated.

    With this in mind, we’ve created this handy tax guide for international students on OPT. Continue reading “The ultimate tax guide for international students on OPT” »

  • Filing taxes on H1B visa – the Ultimate guide

    H1B visa tax filing

    Last updated on 23 Feb 2024

    About H1B visa

    The H1B visa enables skilled workers with specialized expertise to live in the US for three years (later it can be extended for another three years), and work for a sponsoring employer.

    In order to apply, you need specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in areas such as medicine, science, mathematics, information technology, architecture, finance, and accounting.

    You can find more about H1B visa eligibility, the application process, and visa duration here.
    Continue reading “Filing taxes on H1B visa – the Ultimate guide” »

  • FICA tax explained for nonresident aliens

    FICA tax exemption nonresidents
  • U.S. entry and exit dates – how to check your travel history

    How to check US travel history

    (Last updated: 19 Jan, 2024)

     

    In order to prepare your US tax documents, you will need to know the exact dates on which you traveled in or out of the US.

    However, if you don’t know your travel history and you need to double-check the exact entry and exit dates, the good news is that you can easily do this online.

    The US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) keeps a record of all nonresidents who travel to the country over the past 5 years.

    These documents also include the reason for their travel and the dates of their previous visits to the US.

    In this post, we will discuss how to track all your travel history paperwork. Continue reading “U.S. entry and exit dates – how to check your travel history” »

  • How to file your nonresident tax return from outside the US

    Need to file a US nonresident tax return from outside America?

    Don’t worry. You’re not alone! Countless nonresidents face this very predicament every year.

    Filing from outside the US can pose its own unique set of challenges. But, with some planning, organization and a little help from your friends at Sprintax, filing your documents can be easier than you think!

    In this handy guide, we’ve got 5 top tips to follow if you’re filing your nonresident tax documents from outside the US.
    Continue reading “How to file your nonresident tax return from outside the US” »

  • How to Pay International Student Fees in the US

    How to pay International tuition fees

    Hey international students in the US! Got a college tuition payment coming up? Here’s how to transfer your fees the easy way

    Picture this.

    You’re busy taking notes during an important university lecture.

    And then your phone lights up.

    ‘Bing!’

    It’s time to pay your college fees.

    But as an international student, dealing with currency exchange and bank transfer fees can be a real headache.

    Don’t worry. We’ve put together this simple guide to help you pay your fees the easy way.

    (PSST: If you stick around to the end, we’ll even share some great tips to save you money on your tuition payments.) Continue reading “How to Pay International Student Fees in the US” »

  • 23 tax tips for nonresidents to maximize their US tax refund in 2023

    U.S. nonresident tax-refund tips for 2023

    Taxation in the United States is unique and complicated, especially if you are a nonresident. Maybe you have a lot of questions when you complete your tax return and don’t want to pay a cent more than you have to.

    This is where this blog may help you.

    Here are 23 tax tips that can answer your questions and help you trim your tax bill and maximize your US tax refund in 2023.

     

    1. Remember! You have to file a nonresident tax return in the US

    If you are a nonresident alien living and working in the United States, you must file an income tax return. This applies to all nonresident aliens studying there on an F Visa, J Visa, M Visa, or Q Visa.

    The easiest way to file your US nonresident income tax return is online with Sprintax or by mailing a paper return (Form 1040-NR) to the Internal Revenue Service.

    Sprintax is now approved by the IRS to submit Federal tax returns online (E-Filing). In short, you no longer have to download, print, and mail a physical copy of your tax return to the IRS.

     

    2. Even if you did not earn US-sourced income, you may still have a filing requirement

    If you earned income, you have to file a non-resident income tax return on Form 1040-NR. If you did not earn any income you may need to file a Tax Form – 8843.

    Each individual who is a nonresident alien and is present in the United States under an F, J, M, or Q immigration status (both “-1” and “-2”) is required to file Form 8843, regardless of age or income received.

     

    3. You must file if you were self-employed or earned income from investments or cryptocurrency

     If you have made a profit from trading cryptocurrency on a US exchange or broker while living in the US, you are required to declare that income.

    The IRS treats cryptocurrency as property, and any profit made from it will be subject to Capital Gains Tax at 30% and must be reported on your 1040-NR tax return.

    However, if you dispose of your investment for a loss, you will not need to pay tax, but as a nonresident, you will not be able to use the losses to offset any future tax liabilities.

    The same applies to investment profit. Dividends received from your investments will also be subject to a 30% tax. Keep in mind that you may be eligible for a reduced tax rate or tax exemption if you are able to claim tax treaty benefits

     

    4. Correctly determine your tax residency status

    As an international student, if you work in the United States you will be taxed, but the extent to which you are taxed will depend on your residency status and where your income, whether from employment or capital gains, was earned or sourced from.

    Not all nonresident aliens will meet the residency requirements for filing a US income tax return.

    You are only considered a US Resident if you:

    1. Have been issued a Green Card, or
    2. Meet the Substantial Presence Test guidelines, which state that you have been in the US for at least 31 days in the current year and 183 days in the previous two years.

    If you struggle with determining your residency status, don’t forget that Sprintax allows you to complete the substantial presence test and determine your tax residency status for free!

    Determine my residency status

     

    US nonresident alien tax refund tips

    5. Figure out your tax obligations

     Nonresident students are generally taxed on their US source income, such as wages or salaries earned in the United States which includes money earned while in the country.

    The IRS, on the other hand, has no authority to levy taxes on income earned by nonresidents in their home countries or any other foreign country.

    You may also be required to file a nonresident tax return if you receive certain types of income, such as wages, scholarships, fellowships, rental income, interest, dividends, and grants. However, certain types of income may be exempt from income tax, such as gifts, bequests, and inheritances.

    Read more: US tax season survival guide for international students on F-1 visas

     

    6. You must also file if you received a gift or inheritance

    Gifts and inheritances may be taxable to the donor or tax-free, depending on the amount of the gift or inheritance and the relationship between the donor and the recipient.

     

    7. Consider the tax implications of receiving a scholarship or fellowship

    Scholarships and fellowships may be taxable or tax-free, depending on the terms of the award and how the funds are used. It’s the same with grants.

     

    8. Be aware of the tax implications of on-campus employment

    While studying, international students may be allowed to work on campus, but they must report their earnings on their tax returns.

     

     

    9. Know the rules for off-campus employment

    International students may also be able to work off campus, but there are strict rules governing this type of employment.

     For instance, in order to work off campus, students must have permission from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and they might have to pay social security and Medicare taxes.

     

    10. Understand the tax implications of self-employment

    Self-employed international students might also be required to pay regular income tax in addition to self-employment tax.

     

    11. Organize your tax records. Having a clean tax record counts

    The most difficult part of the tax season for many people is gathering all the necessary documentation. This includes last year’s tax return, W-2s, 1099s for this year, receipts, other income documents, and canceled checks.

    It’s important to keep good records of your income, deductions, and other tax-related information. This will make it easier to file your 1040-NR tax return and ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.

    Good organization may have financial rewards. Find out what forms you need and print out a tax checklist.

    tax tips 

    12. You may be required to file a federal and state tax return

    International students may need to file a federal income tax return using Form 1040NR if they have US-source income, or Form 1040 if they are considered resident aliens.

    Whether or not international students should file a state tax return depends on the state they live in and the amount of their income.

    Those who reside in states which do not collect income taxes may not be required to file a state tax return. However, even if they are exempt from filing a federal tax return, they may still need to file a state tax return in some states if their income exceeds certain thresholds.

    It’s crucial to confirm the requirements for the state in which you currently reside because they can differ from one state to another. Sprintax can help you determine your state filing requirements.

     

    13. Understand your tax treaty entitlements

    Understand the tax treaty between your home country and the United States.

    Many countries have a tax treaty with the United States that can affect your tax obligations.

    For instance, the treaty may provide a lower tax rate on certain types of income or allow you to claim certain credits or deductions.

     

    14. Understand the difference between tax deductions and tax credits

    You need to understand the distinction between tax credits and tax deductions and figure out which are applicable for nonresidents. Both can reduce what you owe on your tax bill but in different ways.

    Tax credits directly reduce the amount owed on taxes by providing a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax bill. Tax credits are more valuable than tax deductions in general because they lower the amount you must pay, whereas a tax deduction reduces your taxable income.

    Changes in the taxation of nonresidents under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act practically waived most of the deductions that they can claim. The following are not available anymore: personal exemption and itemized deductions except the state tax deduction.

    You can only use as a deduction the state and local taxes you pay in the state you worked in.

    You still can claim qualified educational expenses you pay out of your pocket if you are a student at a US educational institution but only to the amount of your grant/scholarship.

    In general, tax credits are not granted to nonresident aliens except in some very rare cases. Nationals of Canada, Mexico, and South Korea, students, and apprentices from India may be eligible to claim either child tax credit for children that are US residents or credit for other dependents if the child is a nonresident alien.

    Sprintax can review your details and circumstances for your applicable allowances, deductions, and credits. The software will finalize the calculations and prepare your tax return.

     

    15. Make sure you have your SSN / ITIN

    You are required to have a government-issued Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) before you can file a US income tax return. Make sure you’ve arranged that.

    To be eligible for any tax treaty benefits, foreign nationals are required by IRS regulations to possess either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

     

    US tax deadline

    16. File early to avoid tax deadline stress

    Most taxpayers claim that tax season is stressful. When you have a daunting task ahead of you, it’s best to tackle it immediately rather than procrastinate.

    Worrying over something often causes more anxiety than actually taking action. The same holds true for income taxes.

    Filing taxes before the deadline can provide several advantages. Not only does it allow you to avoid the stress of meeting the deadline, but it also ensures that your return is processed as quickly as possible.

    By filing early, you can also get a head start on any tax planning or adjustments that need to be made. Furthermore, those expecting a refund will receive it much sooner if they file early.

    So, don’t wait until the last minute to file your taxes, get a head start and file early to avoid any unnecessary stress or delays.

     

    17. Or at least file before the deadline to avoid fines and penalties

    The deadline for nonresidents to file their tax return is generally 15 June if they are outside the US, but if you are in the US, self-employed, or have taxes withheld, you may need to file by 15 April. If you need more time to file, you can request an extension, but you will still need to pay any taxes owed by the original deadline.

    Penalties and interest will be assessed if you fail to pay your taxes on time. You can also jeopardize any future visa applications.

     

    18. If you miss the deadline it is still important to file

    Nobody wants to get into trouble with the IRS. Don’t panic if you missed this year’s filing deadline but act quickly.

    Missing the filing deadline or not submitting your return by the tax extension deadline can result in penalties imposed by the IRS. They charge 5% of the taxes due for each month or part of the month that the tax return is not filed.

     

    International student tax refund USA

    19. Plus, you may be due a tax refund!

    International students may be entitled to a tax refund if they had taxes withheld from their income but their tax liability was lower than the amount withheld. To claim a refund, you’ll need to file a tax return and attach any required documentation.

    Claim your international student tax refund with Sprintax

     

    20. Even if you have already left the US you should still file and you can still collect your tax refund

     As a nonresident, it’s important to know that you may be eligible for a tax refund even after you have left the United States. To get your refund you simply need to file a tax return online.

    So why leave your money in the US?

     

    21. Register with Sprintax, here’s why

    If you are unsure about your tax obligations as a nonresident, Sprintax can help you!

     It is a tax preparation software designed specifically for non-US residents who are required to file US taxes.

    The software is designed to make it easier for non-residents to prepare and file their US taxes, and claim their US tax refunds.

    It will provide step-by-step guidance and assistance with calculating and claiming credits and deductions based on your personal situation.

    Sprintax also provides support for filing state and local taxes in addition to federal taxes.

    The software is available in a variety of subscription plans and is intended for use by individuals as well as businesses and organizations.

     

    22. No, if you are a non-resident, you can’t file with TurboTax (Don’t file as a resident if you are a non-resident)

    You cannot file your taxes with TurboTax if you are a nonresident.

     TurboTax doesn’t support IRS Form 1040-NR (U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return) while Sprintax offers both federal and state tax preparation for international students, scholars, and nonresident foreign professionals.

    What’s more – Sprintax is TurboTax’s partner of choice and the only online solution to offer federal tax e-filing and state tax return preparation for nonresidents!

    File Form 1040-NR online with Sprintax

     

    23. Plus – you can E-file with Sprintax which will save you a lot of tax stress at the deadline

    Say goodbye to paper tax returns! You no longer need to download, print and mail a physical copy of your tax return to the US tax office.

    Sprintax is now approved by the IRS for E-filing, which means you can file your taxes from the comfort of your own home.

    Plus, E-Filing your tax return guarantees faster processing by the IRS compared to mailing a paper tax return.

    Still have questions?

    You can contact Sprintax Live chat to help you with the tax preparation process.

    Remember, you must file your tax documents before 15 July.

    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

    Prepare your US nonresident tax return today!

     

  • How to prepare the tax forms you need when you start a new job in the US

    tax forms when staring a new job in US

    Are you а nonresident starting a new job or CPT/OPT in the US?

    If that’s the case, congratulations!

    When you change jobs or start new employment in the US, there are important tax forms that you need to be aware of.

    These forms ensure you don’t pay too much tax, and claim any tax treaty benefits you’re due.

    In the US, you must fill out the forms correctly because otherwise, you may owe tax to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when you file your tax return, and then end up owing additional penalties or fines on top of this. Continue reading “How to prepare the tax forms you need when you start a new job in the US” »

  • How to File Prior-Year Tax Returns as a Nonresident Alien

    File previous year tax return

    People do not file their taxes for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you forgot or were unaware that you had to file. Perhaps you had a hefty tax bill that you could not cover.

    Whatever the reason, if you did not file your tax return by the deadline, you should do it as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk being hit by fines, and you can jeopardize your future visa applications.

    As a nonresident, you probably know that you have the obligation to file a tax return if you were in the US for just one day, and even if you did not earn any income in order to stay compliant with your visa tax commitment.

    This guide will outline everything you need to know as a nonresident if you did not file your prior-year tax return(s). So, keep reading!

    Continue reading “How to File Prior-Year Tax Returns as a Nonresident Alien” »

  • Which tax forms does Sprintax Calculus support?

    Tax forms supported by Sprintax Calculus

    Sprintax Calculus is a secure hassle-free online software, which will help your institution to manage tax compliance for each of your nonresidents.

    In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at the many tax forms which can be prepared for your nonresidents using Sprintax Calculus. Continue reading “Which tax forms does Sprintax Calculus support?” »

  • 5 Painful payroll problems Sprintax Calculus instantly solves for educational institutions

    Sprintax Calculus solves payroll problems

    Properly documenting and withholding the right amount of tax from nonresident aliens has become an increasingly important issue for educational institutions.

    International students come from a variety of different countries and spend different amounts of time in the US. So how can you manage all of your international students from a tax perspective when no ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule applies?

    Sprintax Calculus (formerly Sprintax TDS) is a tool that ensures nonresidents are taxed correctly from their first day working in the US – guaranteeing that the right amount of tax is withheld from their earnings and reported to the IRS. Continue reading “5 Painful payroll problems Sprintax Calculus instantly solves for educational institutions” »

  • What income is taxable for nonresident aliens in the US?

    Taxable income of nonresident aliens

    Are you a nonresident living in the US? We know it can be confusing to understand the tax system in your home country, let alone in a different one, so we are here to help explain what income is taxable for nonresidents in the US.

    As a foreign national you can be subject to one of two different systems of taxation in the US, depending on whether you are classified as a nonresident or resident alien in the US.

    If you are a nonresident alien, you are subject to US income tax only on your US source income and just like residents, you must report your income on US income tax returns.

    In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at the various different types of income which are taxable in the US and outline our tips on managing your tax requirements.
    Continue reading “What income is taxable for nonresident aliens in the US?” »

  • Why are my federal wages different from my state wages?

    Federal wages differing from state wages

    (Updated for 2023)

    When preparing your tax return you will need to include some details from your income documents about the money you earned and taxes you paid in the US.

    While it is not unusual for there to be differences between the taxation of federal and state income, it can be tricky for nonresidents to file their taxes in such cases.
    The easiest way to prepare your tax documents online is by using Sprintax Returns (formerly Sprintax Tax Preparation)- the nonresident alien tax return software.

    In this guide, we’re going to outline how you can enter your payment and tax details by completing Step 3 of the Sprintax tax prep process and what to do if you receive an error alert relating to your federal and state income. Continue reading “Why are my federal wages different from my state wages?” »

  • How to track the processing of your North Carolina state tax return?

    Track North Carolina state tax return

    North Carolina is one of the 43 states in America that taxes its residents’ individual income.

    You must file a state tax return if you are a nonresident alien and your income from North Carolina sources is greater than $0.

    If you have already filed your North Carolina state tax return ahead of the 17 May 2021 tax filing deadline, you may want to follow the progress of your return and the processing of your tax refund.

    In this guide, we’re going to show you exactly how you can track your return and let you know what to do if you have not yet filed your taxes.
    Continue reading “How to track the processing of your North Carolina state tax return?” »

  • 5 Top Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filers

    student with laptop

    (Updated for 2021)

    International students must file a tax return as a condition of their visa. You may be subject to penalties and interest if you don’t do it.

    However, many will inevitably wait until the last minute to file their US tax returns.

    If you’ve procrastinated and haven’t done your taxes yet, you are not alone!

    But don’t worry! We are here to help with our 5 top tax tips for last-minute filers.
    Continue reading “5 Top Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filers” »