5 Top Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filers

student with laptop

(Updated for 2024)

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.

1. Get your documents ready

The organization is key, especially if you are already running late. First off, make sure that you determine your residency status for tax purposes and if you have income from any US source.

Knowing how to file your taxes starts with knowing the right forms and documents you need. Make sure you gather all the necessary ones. Also, save a copy for your files.

You will need your:

  • Passport
  • Form DS-2019 (J visa) or I-20(F visa)
  • Either ITIN ( Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) or an SSN (Social Security Number)
  • All income forms: W2, 1042-S and/or 1099

You must file your federal tax return, the obligation to file your state tax return depends on the state you live in and its own rules.

Some states do not have an income state tax, including – Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. If you live in any of these states you don’t need to file a state tax return.

Federal tax return (Form 1040-NR)

Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, is the standard federal income tax form for nonresidents.


Form 8843

Every nonresident alien present in the US under J-1, or J-2, F-1, F-2, nonimmigrant status must file form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition”—even if they received NO income in the US.

Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is required to support your claim to exclude your days of presence in the US for purposes of the substantial presence test.

Form 8843

2. Use a tax preparer

You will save yourself a lot of time and stress. Also, a tax preparer will know the deductions and credits that you qualify for and will take the paperwork burden off your shoulders.

Filing is not supposed to give you nightmares. But it often does!

To avoid the headache you can choose self-preparation tax software, which will painlessly prepare your tax returns in a few minutes. Easy!

Sprintax Returns (formerly Sprintax Tax Preparation) is the only federal and state tax prep software for nonresidents in the US! It will also inform you if you need to file a state tax return in addition to your federal tax return.

With Sprintax you can:

  • Prepare your Federal & State tax return
  • E-file your 1040NR (eligibility criteria here)
  • Save time and stress
  • Chat with qualified agents 24/7
  • Determine your residency status
  • Get the maximum tax refund and avail of every tax entitlement

File Your 1040-NR with Sprintax Now


3. File even if you don’t have the money

A lot of nonresidents are entitled to tax refunds and do not have the tax liability to pay at the deadline.

However, if you do have a tax liability,  you have a tax bill to pay, and you don’t have the money right away, IRS offers different payment plans to taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax liability all at once.

You can qualify for an installment agreement that allows you to pay down the balance over time.


What is an installment agreement plan?

This is a program that allows individuals to pay their tax debt in monthly payments.

There are several different types of installment agreements – Partial, Guaranteed, Streamline, and Full Pay.

The amount of debt owed is divided by 72 months.

If you owe less than $50,000, form 9465 must be completed.

What is the minimum monthly payment?
There is no specific minimum payment.

How long does it take to approve an installment agreement plan?
Usually, the IRS approves the installment agreement plan within 30 days.

Can the IRS deny an installment agreement plan?
This could happen if you have a previous plan and you have defaulted on it.

Is it possible to have two installment agreement plans?
No, if you cannot pay your future taxes, you add the amount you owe to the balance of your first plan.

How long does the installment agreement last?
Up to 72 months or 6 years if you owe up to 50,000$ or less.

Your local CPA can advise you if you qualify for the IRS payment plan and helps you apply for it.

4. File for an extension

 If you need more time to file your tax return, you can request an extension (even without a reason) on form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) or online. If you owe money to the IRS, this will give you more time to file, but not more time to pay the money.

What is the deadline to file taxes with an extension?

Requesting an extension will move the deadline for filing your taxes to October 15. Most of the extensions are approved automatically.

The extension request (IRS Form 4868) must be filed no later than 15 Apr 2024, for 2023 tax returns, to avoid a late-filing penalty from the IRS.


5. Final check

Double-check your SSN/ ITIN number, don’t forget to sign the tax return form, and mail it to the right address.

If you have questions about US tax, you can always get in touch with our friendly Live Chat tax experts. Our team is available to support you  24/7.

Prepare your 1040NR easily with Sprintax Returns!


Subscribe to the Sprintax Blog!

US tax can be confusing. Especially for nonresidents!

That’s why, if you’re an International Student or J-1 participant in the US, or you work in a University International Student Office, you should subscribe to the Sprintax blog.

You’ll find tons of useful content for nonresidents. We cover tax, student life, acclimatizing to the US, and much more.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and never miss a thing!

Leave a reply.

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *