Tax Information for International Students and Scholars

time for taxes178914005All international students and scholars (F1 and J1 visa holders), as well as their dependents (F2 and J2 visa holders), are required to file their taxes with the U.S. federal government, no matter whether they’ve earned income during the tax year.

If your students or scholars had any domestic income in 2013, the tax filing deadline is Wednesday, April 16, 2014. If your students or scholars have not had any domestic income in 2013, then they have until Sunday, June 15, 2014.

With tax season on the horizon, we wanted to provide you with the tools you need to guide your students on what and how to submit their taxes to the Federal government. Here is a condensed overview of tax information for international students and scholars. Follow these 5 steps that will walk you through the process of figuring out what documents to submit:

1. Determine whether they are resident or non-resident for tax purposes

Most international students and scholars are non-residents for tax purposes, although it’s important to get confirmation as it will effect which forms they need to fill out. The status is based on the number of days in the US and is unrelated to immigration status. Here is a general guide to determine whether a student or scholar is a resident or non-resident for tax purposes:

  • Students on a F or J visa – Students are most likely considered non-residents for tax purposes if they have been in the US for less than 5 calendar years. In other words, they arrived on or after January 1st 2009.
  • Scholars on a J visa – Scholars are most likely considered non-residents for tax purposes if they have been in the US for less than 2 calendar years out of the last 6 years. In other words, they arrived on or after January 1st 2012.

Please note that a calendar year begins the year they arrive, even if the student or scholar is not physically present for the complete calendar year.

If you have a student or scholar that meets the above statements, they are exempt from the substantial presence test. If they do not meet the following qualifications, then they would undergo the substantial presence test.

According to the substantial presence test, if you have a student or scholar that has spent more than 183 days in the U.S. within the last three years this generally means that they will be considered a resident alien for tax purposes. However, even if that individual passed the substantial presence test, they still may be considered a nonresident for tax purposes if they qualify for the The Closer Connection Exception to the Substantial Presence Test for Foreign Students.

2. Find out if they received income in 2013

If the student is a non-resident for tax purposes, the next step is to determine whether they received income in 2013 in the United States. You can find a complete list of sources of income on the IRS website.

3. Determine which forms they need to complete

Resident for Tax Purposes
Those students and scholars that are determined to be a resident for tax purposes will need to complete the same forms as US citizens. Students and scholars should be directed to a professional tax preparer, tax filing software or they can file themselves. Required forms include:

Non-resident for Tax Purposes
If students are non-residents with a US source of income, they will need to complete the following forms:

If students are non-residents without a US source of income, they will just need to complete:

IMPORTANT: Form 8843 is required for all non-residents including international students, scholars, and their dependents, regardless of age, number of days in the US in 2013, and income status. Each form must be mailed separately in its own envelope.

* This form does not require a Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number

4. Documents to file for taxes

All international students and scholars that receive wages on or off campus will be required to complete:

All international students and scholars that receive miscellaneous income such as interest from a bank account or if a student worked on CPT as an independent contractor will need to follow the following form:

All non-residents that received a scholarship or fellowship that exceeds tuition and other mandatory educational fees will need to complete the following form:

International students and scholars will not receive a copy of the 1042-S form if they had a tuition waiver and do not receive any checks.

Completed forms should be sent to the:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

** Any income from scholarships or fellowships that wasn’t used to pay for tuition or other mandatory educational fees is considered taxable and should be reported on the W-2 form.

Students who arrived on January 1, 2014 or later are exempt from filing their taxes. Please note that there are tax treaties that can affect how much your students pay to the federal government.

We hope you enjoyed this overview on taxes for international student and scholars. For more, check out InternationalStudent.com’s Student Tax Return. This is provided to you as a resource and encourage you to review the IRS website or contact a tax attorney for any specific questions related to international student taxes.

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