Tax Information for International Students
Learn about U.S. Taxes, when is the due date, who should file them, how to file them, etc
Who Must File
Non-immigrants temporarily present in the United States as students, trainees, scholars, teachers, researchers, exchange visitors, and cultural exchange visitors are subject to special rules with respect to the taxation of their income.
There is no minimum dollar amount of income that triggers a filing requirement for a nonresident, including a foreign student or a foreign scholar.
Filing is required by nonresident students and scholars who have:
- A taxable scholarship or fellowship grant, as described in Chapter 1 of Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education;
- Income partially or totally exempt from tax under the terms of a tax treaty; and/or
- Any other income that is taxable under the Internal Revenue Code.
Filing is not required by nonresident alien students and scholars who have income ONLY from:
- Foreign sources;
- Interest Income from a:
- U.S. bank
- U.S. savings & loan institution
- U.S. credit union
- U.S. insurance company
- An investment that generates Portfolio Interest (Described in Chapter 3 "Exclusions From Gross Income" - "Interest Income" – "Portfolio interest" of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens);
- A scholarship or fellowship grant that is entirely a Tax Free Scholarship or Fellowship Grant as described in Chapter 1 of Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education; and/or
- Any other income that is nontaxable under the Internal Revenue Code. However, income that is not taxable because of an income tax treaty must be reported on a U.S. income tax return even though no income tax is due on the U.S. income tax return.
Determining Your Filing Status
Before Filing your taxes you should determine your tax filing status, Non resident for tax purposes or resident for tax purposes.
Most J-1 or F-1 Students are considered non resident for tax purposes and usually become resident for tax purposes after living in the United States for five years.
If you are not a U.S. citzen, in most cases, you are considered non-resident for tax purposes unless you meet either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year (January 1 – December 31).
You can be both a nonresident and a resident for U.S. tax purposes during the same tax year. This usually occurs in the year you arrive or depart from the United States. If so, you need to file a dual-status income tax return.
Your tax filing status may change over time so it is a good idea to review these guidelines each time you complete your taxes.
CAUTION: the tax filing status does not indicate that you are a resident for immigration or other purposes. Some students and scholars are considered to be resident tax filers even though they continue to have a non-immigrant visa status.
Check the IRS website for more information on your tax filing status
Timing and Due Date
The tax year is from January 1st to December 31st of any given year and you must file your tax return by April 15th.
If day 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day. Your return is considered filed on time if your envelope is properly addressed, postmarked and deposited in the mail by the due date.
2023 due date: Thursday, April 18th
If you need more time to file you can request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. But keep in mind that you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return by the original due date of your return.
If you do not comply with your tax obligations, you may encounter complications when applying for U.S. visas in the future.
Identity Theft and Scams
Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.
The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam.
Do not respond or click any link. If you receive this scam, forward it to email@example.com and note that it seems to be a scam phishing for your information.
Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud. Your taxes can be affected if your Social Security number is used to file a fraudulent return or to claim a refund or credit.
How To File
1. Keep an eye on your income. If you’re employed, look at your pay stub for the “year to date” income—and if you have more than one job, be sure to add up your income from all your employers. Remember to include income from other sources, too, such as money you make on rental property, anything you sell, investments or interest.
2. Gather all document you will need for filing taxes.
- Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement: W-2 forms are mailed to current and former employees. This form shows how much you earned last year and how much was taken out for taxes. You will only receive this form if you have been employed. Many employers allow you to print your W-2 online.
- Form 1042-S: The 1042-S form will only be given to nonresident alien students who have received scholarship or fellowship money that exceeds tuition and related fee charges. You will not receive a copy of the 1042-S form if you only have a tuition waiver on your account and do not receive any checks. 1042-S forms will be issued by the FGCU Bursar's Office around mid-March. If you expect to receive a 1042-S form, wait until it is issued before filing your tax return.
- Form 1099 (if applicable): The 1099 form documents miscellaneous income. For example, if you had CPT authorization to work as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of an organization, you might receive Form 1099 instead of Form W-2 to document your earnings.
- I-20 (F-1 status)
- DS-2019 (J-1 status)
- Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number (not required if you will file only Form 8843)
- Address information (current U.S. address and foreign address)
- U.S. entry and exit dates for current and past visits to the U.S. You can get much of your travel information from the online I-94 system: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
- Academic institution or host sponsor information (name, address, phone)
- Scholarship/fellowship grant letter (if any)
- A copy of last year’s federal income tax return, if filed
3. Be prepared and mind the deadline.
4. Decide how to file your tax return.
There are several options for preparing and filing your tax return. Learn about each so you can make the right choice for you:
- “Free File”: If your adjusted gross income—this is a specific tax term which basically means your income minus certain tax deductions—is less than a certain limit, the IRS has free tax prep software that can make preparing your tax return easier with features that can help you figure out any deductions or credits you might be able to take.
- IRS online forms: If your adjusted gross income is higher than that limit, the IRS has electronic versions of the paper forms that will do the math for you, but they offer only basic guidance and won’t give you the same kind of help figuring out which deductions or credits you might be able to take.
- Tax preparation software: If you want a bit more guidance, you can pay a fee to use these online tools, which are available through several providers. They’ll walk you through how to prepare your tax return, and help you figure out any deductions or credits you might be eligible for.
- Tax preparer: If you realize that you need one-on-one help from an expert, you can go to a tax preparation firm or an accountant. Make sure you work with someone you can trust. You will be giving this person access to a lot of sensitive personal information, so choose a tax professional carefully.
5. Submitting Your Return(s)
After the forms for the tax return have been filled out, please mail the signed tax return forms altogether to the following address:
If a refund is expected, please mail your signed tax forms to:Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215
If owing money to the IRS and are enclosing a payment, please mail your signed tax forms to:Internal Revenue Service P.O. Box 1303 Charlotte, NC 28201-1303 USA