International students and scholars are often surprised to learn they have tax filing obligations while they are present in the United States—even if they did not work in the prior year. Tax filing does not necessarily mean that taxes must be paid. Tax filing is a legal requirement.
*Please note that information presented on this page has not been approved by the IRS nor the U.S. Treasury. In addition, staff from the Office of International Education cannot answer detailed questions pertaining to your Income Tax Return. Please check the Powerpoint presentations available below for completing federal tax forms and state tax forms, as well as any other resources listed here.
I. You are required to file the appropriate forms with the IRS whether or not you have earned income in a fiscal year.
- Federal/State Tax Returns are due on April 15 for the previous fiscal year.
- All non-resident aliens in the U.S. on F or J student visas for five years or less, MUST file IRS Form 8843.
- This form asks for certain information about your immigration status. Therefore, if a nonresident alien (in F or J status) has no income in the United States, he/she must still file IRS Form 8843.
Instructions in Filling Out IRS Form 8843
The box for the Taxpayer Identification Number should be filled in with either a Social Security number or an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). If you do not have a SSN or ITIN, please attach Form W-7 and write down “Applied for” in the box.
Be sure to correctly fill in name and address. You name should be written as it appears on your passport.
Form 8843 PART I – Everyone Must Complete Part I
- 1a. Type of visa stamp in your passport you used to enter the US and the date of your entry.
- 1b. Current nonimmigrant status: Current nonimmigrant status should be the same as 1a, unless you changed your status. (If you changed your status while in the US, for example: you entered as a F-2 and then changed to F-1 without leaving the US, you would enter F-1 as your status and the date your change occurred. The date should be indicated on the approval notice you received from Immigration).
- 2. Enter your country of citizenship
- 3a. Country that issued your passport (should be same as 2).
- 3b. Passport number
- 4a. Estimate the number of days you were present in the US during the indicated years.
- 4b. Estimate the number of days that you were present in the US for the tax year.
Form 8843 PART II—To Be Completed By J-1 Research Scholars and Professors
- Complete questions 5–8
Form 8843 PART PART III—To Be Completed By F-1 and J-1 Students
- Complete questions 9–14
- Sign and Date the Form
II. What is Considered Income?
Nonresidents for purposes here (students in F and J status) are taxed only on their U.S. income. Sources of U.S. *income may include the following:
- On-campus employment
- Graduate assistantships
- Practical or academic training
Note: "Income" is not limited to wages paid to nonresidents in cash, but also includes that portion of a scholarship or assistantship that is applied to housing and meal expenses. The portion applied directly to tuition, fees and books is not considered income to any student. If scholarship money is provided directly to the nonresident by check or cash, however, it is fully taxable.
III. Who Must File a Tax Return
- All nonresident aliens in F or J status in the United States who have income must file a U.S. tax return if their income is more than $3,650 for tax year 2010. Non resident aliens usually complete Form 1040NR-EZ.
- A tax return must be filed even when no taxes are withheld from the income due to a tax treaty exemption between the United States and the country of tax residence for the international visitor.
- Note: Students in F or J status who were employed as non-resident aliens should be exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes (together called FICA) If these taxes were deducted from your paycheck in error, you must ask your employer for a refund and file IRS Form 843 and supplemental IRS Form 8316.
- Read Ten Common Tax Return Errors Foreign Nationals Should Avoid »
Filing for Taxes PowerPoint Presentations
The Federal Government and New York State have provided us with power point presentations regarding the filing of taxes. Please click here to view these presentations:
- IRS PowerPoint – Income Tax Workshop for “Nonresident Aliens”
- NYS PowerPoint – International Students and Scholars Workshop