INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TAX

Every international student is required to file a tax return as a condition of your visa, but not everyone will pay taxes to the American government. International students are entitled to a number of benefits and exemptions, so many will not owe anything. In fact, if you paid too much tax throughout the year, you may be entitled to a refund check.

AG Supports Free ITIN & Tax Return for International Students – Click Me to Request FREE ITIN & Tax Return.


If you want to file your Taxes on your own then follow these steps:


HOW DO I FILE A TAX RETURN?

To file taxes yourself follow these steps:

  1. Determine your residence status by determining Substantial Presence Test
    1. Normally all Internal students are considered non-resident for 5 years
    2. Scholars are considered non-resident for 2 years
    3. Non-residents TAX can’t be submitted online- you should print, sign and mail the documents
    4. If you filed your tax return electronically without making sure your status by “Substantial Presence Test”, then your made a mistake. In that case, IRS already assigned you “Resident” Status for tax purpose and you will not qualify for non-resident tax return benefit. You will have to file and pay taxes as normal US residents and citizens.
  2. Determine whether you had any income from US sources.
    1. If got paid in the tax year, then you have income.
    2. If you must get W-2, 1099 or 1042-S from university or employer. Without these documents you can’t file tax returns
    3. If you have not received W-2, 1099 or 1042-S then ask your employer when will you get the documents
    4. If you didn’t make any income from any source then you just file Form 8843
    5. Whether you made any income of not, all international students must fill forms (not necessarily tax return forms), sign and mail them every year. Most international students don’t file it and face the consequences in future.
  3. Determine whether you need an ITIN.
    1. You don’t need ITIN if you have no US source of income. You can submit Form 8843 without ITIN or SSN if you don’t have them assigned to your name
    2. If you already have ITIN or SSN then while submitting Form 8843, you must include ITIN number or SSN number
  4. Gather the required documents by downloading and printing them from the IRS website.
    1. Form 8843
    2. Form 1040NR
    3. Form 1040NR-E
    4. Form W-7
    5. 8233
    6. W-8BEN
    7. Form 843
    8. Form 8316
  5. Gather the documents you received from your income sources.
    1. If got paid in the tax year, then you have income.
    2. If you must get W-2, 1099 or 1042-S from university or employer. Without these documents you can’t file tax returns
    3. If you have not received W-2, 1099 or 1042-S then ask your employer when will you get the documents
  6. Mail your tax forms, along with copies of your W-2’s, 1099’s, and 1042-S’s, and a check if you owe anything. Here are the appropriate addresses:
Forms to be Filed Address Deadline
ONLY Form 8843 Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, Texas
73301-0215
June 15th, 2015
Forms 8843 and 1040-NR, and others if appropriate (NOT filing a W-7, NOT enclosing a payment) Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, Texas
73301-0215
April 15th, 2015
Forms 8843 and 1040-NR WITH PAYMENT ENCLOSED Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, North Carolina
28201-1303
April 15th, 2015
Form W-7, along with all required tax return forms, including payment Internal Revenue Service
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, Texas 78714
April 15th, 2015
State tax return forms Consult your International Student Advisor for the mailing address for your state tax returns. State filing deadlines vary, but it is best to file your state taxes at the same time as your federal taxes.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Nothing! There is no cost to mail your tax returns to the IRS. If you need professional assistance then there will only be a cost if you use a service. if you need the help for critical tax issue then contact of an enrolled agent or certified public accountant (CPA)- who will charge little more for their services.


DO I HAVE TO PAY TAXES ON INCOME I RECEIVED FROM MY HOME COUNTRY?

As long as you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes and you file a proper tax return here in the United States, the US will not tax your income from non-American sources.

When do I need to file my tax return?

Your federal forms must be postmarked by April 15th. However, other forms such as state tax returns and Form 8843 have different deadlines.

Does it cost anything to file my taxes?

If you do it yourself, it is free. Professional tax preparation services charge a fee. Accountancy Group offer huge discounts to students , chat with us for discounted prices. Click Chat below or go to contact us page to find our additional contact details .

Form Price
Form 8843 Free
Form 1040-NR Chat for Discounted Price
ITIN Application Free
State Tax Forms Chat for Discounted Price
Complete Tax Return Chat for Discounted Price

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M A NONRESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES?

International students on F, J, M, or Q visas are considered “exempt individuals,” which means you are excused from the Substantial Presence Test for the first 5 years you are in the US if you are an international student or the first 2 years if you are a scholar. After this period you will be subject to the Substantial Presence Test, which is used to determine if someone was in the US long enough to be considered a resident.

How do I know if I made US source income?

If you earned wages from a job in the United States, received scholarship money from an American organization, or made interest on money in an American bank account, you made US source income. The full list of potential income sources can be found on the IRS website.


WHAT DO I NEED BEFORE I PREPARE MY TAX RETURN?

First and foremost, you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you don’t have one, you’ll need to apply for one in conjunction with filing your tax return by filling out a W-7. Depending upon whether you had US source income, you may also need W-2’s, 1042-S’s, and 1099’s, which will be mailed to you from the university and your employer.


WHAT FORMS DO I HAVE TO FILL OUT?

That depends on your residency status and whether you made US source income in the previous calendar year, whether you need to apply for an ITIN, whether you will claim a tax treaty benefit, and whether you will claim a refund on Social Security and Medicare taxes. Here are the list of forms and scenarios when to file which form ? All the forms can be downloaded from the IRS website.

Forms Non-resident? Made US source income? Need an ITIN? Tax Treaty on Salary? Tax Treaty on Scholarship? Refund for FICA taxes?
Form 8843
Form 1040NR
Form 1040NR-EZ
Form W-7
8233
W-8BEN
Form 843
Form 8316

In addition to these federal tax forms, you may need to fill out state tax forms as well depending upon the state where you attend university.

*If you’re submitting Form W-7, you must also submit proof of identity and foreign status. This is to be done through your Designated School Official (DSO) at your school, who can provide letters authenticating your identity and certificated copies of your documents. The following is a list of documents your DSO may require to issue this certification, but check with an international student advisor to be sure:

  • Photo copy of your Passport
  • Photocopy of your visa
  • Photocopy of your I-20
  • Admission or scholarship award letter

WHY SHOULD I FILE TAXES?

Every international student and their dependents (including spouses and children of all ages) are required to file their taxes if they were in the US during the previous calendar year. While filing your taxes may sound difficult, there are a number of benefits to filing your taxes other than it’s the law:

  1. You might get a refund.Some international students will qualify for a refund due to tax treaties and a lack of serious income if they’ve earned income in the US.
  2. Protect taxation of your worldwide income.
  3. You fulfill your visa obligations.All international students must file at least Form 8843 (see below) in order to remain legal under F, J, M & Q visas, even if you didn’t earn any money in the US.

Generally, most international students who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes. International students on F1 visas are automatically considered non-resident aliens for their first 5 calendar years in the US, and scholars (and their dependents) on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for their first 2 calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the 5 or 2 calendar years, the Substantial Presence Test if will be the formula to determine if you should be taxed as a resident or nonresident alien.

I am a nonresident.

ALL nonresidents MUST fill out Form 8843, which essentially proves that you’re a nonresident. Additionally, all F-2 and J-2 visa holders must file the same form separately regardless of age and income.

I am a resident for tax purposes.

If you file as a resident, you will be required to declare both your US and your worldwide income. Therefore, before filing as a resident, check to see if you qualify for the Closer Connection Exception. If you still believe you qualify as a resident, you should file taxes as if you were an American citizen. You can do so for free at the IRS website, or you can use one of the many aforementioned tax preparation program.


NONRESIDENT ALIENS – SOURCE OF INCOME

A nonresident alien (NRA) usually is subject to U.S. income tax only on U.S. source income. The general rules for determining U.S. source income that apply to most nonresident aliens are shown below:

See Chapter Two of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens for additional details.

Item of Income Factor Determining Source
Salaries, wages, other compensation Where services performed
Business income:
Personal services
Where services performed
Business income:
Sale of inventory -purchased
Where sold
Business income:
Sale of inventory -produced
Where produced (Allocation may be necessary)
Interest Residence of payer
Dividends Whether a U.S. or foreign corporation*
Rents Location of property
Royalties:
Natural resources
Location of property
Royalties:
Patents, copyrights, etc.
Where property is used
Sale of real property Location of property
Sale of personal property Seller’s tax home (but see Personal Property, in Chapter 2 of Publication 519, for exceptions)
Pensions Where services were performed that earned the pension
Scholarships – Fellowships Generally, the residence of the payer
Sale of natural resources Allocation based on fair market value of product at export terminal. For more information, see IRC section 1.863–1(b) of the regulations.
*Exceptions include:
a) Dividends paid by a U.S. corporation are foreign source if the corporation elects the Puerto Rico economic activity credit or possessions tax credit.
b) Part of a dividend paid by a foreign corporation is U.S. source if at least 25% of the corporation’s gross income is effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business for the 3 tax years before the year in which the dividends are declared.

WHAT WILL YOU (INTERNATIONAL STUDENT) NEED BEFORE STARTING TO FILE TAX ?

From Employer or University:

You will need the following documents to properly fill out your tax forms or to submit to tax preparation services. Copies of each of these forms must be sent with your federal and state tax returns.

Form Purpose Sent By
W-2 Full time/part time jobs, Your employer reports wages you earned and taxes withheld from those wages. Deadline to distribute Forms W-2 to employee (international Students): January 31st

For Employers:

Deadline to file using paper Forms W-2: February 29th*

Deadline to file using Business Services Online: March 31st*

1099 Contract jobs, Your employer reports wages you earned and taxes withheld from those wages.

or bank reports interest earned on your accounts.

Employer Send Copy B and Copy 2 of the 1099-MISC form to the recipient by February 1, 2016. The due date is extended to February 16, 2016, if Employer is reporting payments in boxes 8 or 14.
1042-S Reports wages paid to you if you already claimed a tax treaty benefit, and scholarship income that was used for expenses other than tuition and fees (such as room and board or travel). Employer Send 1042-S by March 15th

You should receive all above documents no later by March 15th. Normally all of these documents get available to you by Jan end.


HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M ELIGIBLE TO CLAIM A TAX TREATY BENEFIT?

  • You must fulfill four criteria in order to claim a tax treaty benefit:
  • You must be a nonresident for tax purposes (this is different than your immigration status).
  • You must receive US source of income from salary and/or a scholarship.
  • You are on an F-1, J-1 or an H1-B visa.
  • You were a resident of one of the following countries immediately prior to coming to the US:
Country Tax Treaty for Salary Tax Treaty for Scholarship
Student Scholar
Armenia No Yes Yes
Azerbaijan No Yes Yes
Belgium Yes Yes No
Canada Yes No No
Belarus No Yes Yes
People’s Republic of China Yes Yes Yes (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan)
Cyprus Yes No Yes
Czech Republic Yes Yes Yes
Egypt Yes Yes Yes
Estonia Yes No Yes
France Yes Yes Yes
Germany Yes Yes Yes
Georgia No Yes Yes
Greece No Yes No
Hungary No Yes No
Iceland Yes No Yes
India No Yes No
Indonesia Yes Yes Yes
Israel Yes Yes Yes
Italy No Yes No
Jamaica No Yes No
Japan No Yes No
Kazakstan No No Yes
Kyrgyzstan No Yes Yes
Korea Yes Yes Yes
Latvia Yes No Yes
Lithuania Yes No Yes
Luxembourg No Yes No
Moldova No Yes Yes
Morocco Yes No Yes
Netherlands Yes Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes
Pakistan Yes Yes No
Philippines Yes Yes Yes
Poland Yes Yes Yes
Portugal Yes Yes Yes
Romania Yes Yes Yes
Russia No No Yes
Slovakia Yes Yes Yes
Spain Yes No Yes
Tajikistan No Yes Yes
Thailand Yes Yes Yes
Trinidad & Tobago Yes Yes Yes
Tunisia Yes No Yes
Turkmenistan No Yes Yes
Ukraine No No Yes
United Kingdom No Yes No
Uzbekistan No Yes Yes
Venezuela Yes Yes No

NO INCOME: WHICH FORM SHOULD I FILE IF I DON’T HAVE INCOME?

All international students must file Form 8843 even if you don’t have Income on the tax year and ITIN/SSN


HOW DO I SUBMIT FORM 8843?


Who Must File Form 8843?

All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition”—even if they received NO income during 2014. Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:

  1. present in the U.S. during 2014
  2. a nonresident alien
  3. present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status

If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual’s age and even if the individual is not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ).


What is Form 8843?

Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).


Do I Need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to File Form 8843?

Generally, no. Nonresident aliens who are not required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ), but who are required to file Form 8843, need not apply for a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If, however, an SSN/ITIN has been assigned, the number must be included on Form 8843.

An exception to this rule is for individuals who are eligible to be claimed as dependents on a U.S. income tax return. Such individuals must have an SSN/ITIN. Only nonresident aliens from a very limited number of countries may claim an exemption for their dependents on their U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR). In such a case, any dependent who is claimed must have a SSN/ITIN. An exemption for spouse and/or dependents is only applicable if the country of tax residence is:

  • American Samoa
  • Canada
  • Korea
  • Mexico
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • India (applicable only to F-1 and J-1 students)

How Do I Submit Form 8843?

If you are required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR/1040NR-EZ), attach Form 8843 to the back of the tax return.

If Form 8843 is for a spouse or dependent eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return, Form 8843 must be attached to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.

If Form 8843 is not filed in connection with a federal tax return, the form must be sent to Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215 and is due by June 15, 2015. Please note that each individual who files Form 8843 must send the form separately from any other form or anyone else’s forms.

For example,

  • Moni Chawla  is present in the U.S. under an F-1 immigration status
  • Her husband and 5 year old daughter (both present in F-2 immigration status).
  • Moni is the only person in the family who received U.S. source income during 2014.(F2’s are not allowed to work in US and F1 can work 20 hours/week on-campus or 40 hours/week on OPT or CPT off-campus)
  • While filing taxes, 
    • Moni will file an income tax return (Forms 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ – one of these two forms) with Form 8843 attached.
    • Moni’s husband will file Form 8843 and mail in a separate envelope;
    • Moni’s daughter must submit Form 8843 (in a separate envelope), regardless of her age.

All non-residents are required to submit Form 8843 each year including child.


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Accountancy Group helped me understand International tax laws and saved me from making the biggest mistake of electronically filing taxes while I am in F1 status. Most of us International students are misinformed, we should find authentic source to accurately understand and affirm what is ethical and lawful to do as International student. You will loose a lot in future if you are not careful now.

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PhD Student UTA

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