All international students in F and J status (and dependents) must file a tax document with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Regardless of whether you were paid wages or not, you must file a tax document if you were present in the U.S. between January 1 and December 31, of the tax year and remain "exempt" after applying the rules of "substantial presence test." If you would like a general overview of the U.S. taxation process, please see the following guide published by NAFSA: Association of International Educators: NAFSA Tax Brochure. Another important governmental resource, though dated, is still helpful in understanding your responsibilities with regard to U.S. taxation: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf.
If you need to file U.S. Federal Tax (Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ), you may use the Foreign National Tax Resource linked above. Any student who has access to iStart may utilize Sprintax Foreign National Tax Resource. Any international student in F or J status who has access to iStart may utilize the tax preparation software to prepare federal non-resident alien tax forms.
Frequently Asked Tax Questions
Although OISS staff members can provide general guidance and help you find the right forms and informational resources, we are not trained tax advisors. When filing the federal tax returns (8843 and/or the 1040NR/1040NR-EZ), you may useutilize the tax preparation software system linked above or work directly with the Internal Revenue Service or a trained tax advisor.
This federal tax link will take you into the IRS Web site: http://www.irs.gov/.
Though we can not offer advisement, form 8843 has several sections that are not relevant to students. Guidance on which portions of the document to complete can be found here.
- All international students (and their dependents) must file Form 8843, IF:
- You did not earn any income in the U.S. during the tax year and remain exempt after applying the rules of the substantial presence test. This is the only document you must file for yourself and each of your family members. If you are not filing an income tax return, the deadline for submission of the Form 8843 is June 15.
- All students who earned income during the tax year should also file the following income tax returns, in addition to Form 8843, by April 15:
- Indiana State Tax:
- If you are a Non-Resident Alien for Tax Purposes in F or J status and have an income from an Indiana source, you will file the IT-40 PNR.
- You will not be able to use the tax preparation software available through iStart to prepare this form.
- If you only had interest from a US bank account, a US savings and loan account, or a US credit union account during the tax year, you will not need to file any Indiana state tax forms.
- U.S. Federal Tax (Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ, unless you establish that you are not a resident alien for tax purposes after applying the rules of the substantial presence test)
- Any international student who is a non-resident alien for tax purposes and has access to iStart may utilize the tax preparation software to prepare the federal forms.
- Indiana State Tax:
NOTE WELL: Many free software programs for filing tax returns may be inappropriate for non-resident aliens. Please read all information about these services carefully before using one to file. If you mistakenly use the wrong forms for filing your federal tax return, you may file an amendment with form 1040X.
To file an income tax return after earning income in the U.S., you must obtain a W-2 form from your employer. Most employers mail this form to employees in January. If you have not received a Form W-2, please contact your employer. You cannot file your monetary tax return until you have a W-2 form.
Most international students studying in the U.S. for a first degree in F-1 status will be considered "Non-Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes." This means that they should file federal tax forms which indicate they are appropriate for non-residents. These forms are marked "NR" for non-resident (e.g. 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ).
Students holding asylee, refugee, or permanent resident status, or those holding F and J status in their 6th year of U.S. residency, are likely considered “resident aliens” for tax purposes. Using the following link to the IRS’ green card test and substantial presence test, a person may determine status for tax purposes:
Those that meet the requirements to be considered a resident alien for tax purposes may file the same tax return forms that a U.S. citizen would file to report income (the 1040---not the 1040NR).
Generally, F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are considered nonresident aliens for any part of the first five calendar years they are in the U.S. in that visa status. Again, generally speaking, F-1 and J-1 students who have been in the U.S. for any part of more than five (5) consecutive calendar years are considered to be resident aliens for tax purposes. After such period, a student's days of presence in the US begin to be counted for purposes of determining whether an individual is a nonresident alien under the substantial presence test.
To meet this test, you must have been physically present in the United States on at least 31 days during the current year, and 183 days during the 3 year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before. To satisfy the 183 days requirement, count all of the days you were present in the current year, and one–third of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and one–sixth of the days you were present in the second year before the current year. Do not count any day you were present in the United States as an "exempt" individual or commuting from Canada or Mexico to work in the United States on more than 75% of the workdays during your working period. An "exempt"*** individual may be anyone in the following categories:
- A foreign government–related individual;
- A teacher or trainee with a J or Q visa who substantially complies with the requirements of the visa;
- A student with an F, J, M, or Q visa who substantially complies with the requirements of the visa; or
- A professional athlete temporarily present to compete in a charitable sports event.
The term “exempt” as used here means that the alien is exempt from counting their days of presence for the substantial presence test. F-1 Students (and their dependents who derive their immigration status from the student) are generally exempt from counting their days of presence for 5 years.
Aliens often believe that the exempt status means that they are not required to pay taxes in the U.S. The exempt status does not mean that the student is exempt from filing or paying federal income taxes. Keep in mind that the term "Non-Resident Alien" is only in consideration of your status with regard to U.S. taxation, and not immigration or any other purpose.
The 1098-T is issued as a statement to those who have paid school tuition and fees. Only U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes may claim a benefit from using the information on the 1098-T.
Form 1042-S is used to report income paid to a non-resident regardless of whether the payment is taxable. The form has a number of purposes. It can be used to report wages exempt under a tax treaty, wages earned as an independent contractor, royalties, and scholarship or fellowship grants. By law, 1042-S forms must be issued by March 15. Many international students receive both form 1042-S and form W-2; some students will receive only form W-2.
Please see the following link for more information about whether you scholarship or fellowship is subject to taxation:
In most cases, an employer will NOT withhold FICA taxes from an international student's wages since you likely meet all the requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as primary visa-holders in F or J status (F-1 or J-1) and as Non-Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes. (There may, however, be exceptions.)
Non-resident Aliens for Tax Purposes must file "Married-Filing Separately." Only international students who are from particular countries (India, for example), with certain tax treaty benefits, or eligible as Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes may claim certain exemptions for spouses or be eligible to file a joint return.
Please speak with a staff member of the OISS about assistance for preparing documents to file with a non-U.S. taxing authority.