U.S. Tax Information for International Students
In many countries, the government assesses and collects taxes that are owed. But in the U.S. it is each individual’s own responsibility to meet his or her tax obligations.
Before you meet your tax obligation in the U.S., you must first find out your status, which is slightly different from that of USCIS. U.S. immigration laws speak of immigrants, non-immigrants (also called nonresident aliens), and illegal aliens, whereas U.S. tax laws speak of resident aliens and non-resident aliens. International students could be resident aliens for tax purposes depending on how many years he or she has been present in the U.S. (more than 5 years). The basic facts to remember about taxation of aliens are that resident aliens are taxed like U.S. citizens, while non-resident aliens are taxed differently.
Step one is to determine if you are a Nonresident Alien or Resident Alien for tax purposes. The general rule is that if you are an F-1 student and have been in the US for LESS than 5 calendar years, you are considered a Non-Resident Alien for tax purposes. Nonresident Aliens file one of the “NR” tax forms (1040NR or 1040NR-EZ) and Form 8843).
If you have been in the US as an F-1 student for MORE than 5 calendar years, OR if you change your status to a different visa category (such as an H-1B), and you have been in this new status for more than half the year, then you are considered a Resident Alien and will file the regular forms (1040 or 1040EZ).
In general, nonresident aliens are also required to file an annual tax return if they earned any U.S. source income during the tax year. If you work in the United States and earn a salary or wages or receive a scholarship from U.S. sources, you will probably have to pay U.S. federal income tax. Taxes are due on April 15th for the previous tax/calendar year.
If you are qualified to the criteria in the above paragraph, you must file an income tax return on Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Form 8843 has to be completed and mailed with the return for non-resident aliens who have been present for less than 5 years. Those non-resident aliens who earned more than $12,500 in a calendar year are also required to file a State of Connecticut income tax return.
If you have no U.S. source income, only Form 8843 must be filed to document your status as a non-resident alien.
If you had a U.S. source of income, you should have received a W-2 form and/or form 1042-S from your place of employment. If you have not received your W-2/1042-S by the first week of February, be sure to contact the payroll of your employer to make sure they have your correct address on file. You must either file a U.S. tax return before April 15th or file for an extension before that date.
There are resources to assist with taxes. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) may be able to assist you locally. There is a Danbury VITA representative at www.Danbury-vita.org.
For more information:
IRS toll-free tax assistance: 1-800-829-1040
IRS Danbury phone: (203)-840-4195
The staff of WCSU’s International Office is prohibited from giving tax advice to international students. Our best advice is to research professional services and pay to have your taxes done.