Do I need to file taxes?
Every international student is required to file a tax return as a condition of your visa, but not everyone will pay taxes to the American government. It depends on whether you had income. If you had no income, then you pay no taxes (but you do send in Form 8843). If you did have U.S income and don’t file tax forms, then you won’t get a refund.
What are the consequences of not filing taxes?
If you are owed a refund, filing a tax return is the only way to receive it. Furthermore, payment of income tax due is not voluntary, it is required by law. One of the conditions of your visa is to comply with U.S. law. If you owe taxes and don't file, then the IRS can assess penalties, interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt. There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file taxes. Applicants for permanent residency or "green cards" are frequently asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.
I didn’t earn any money last year. Do I have to file taxes?
Yes, even if you didn’t have any income, as an international student on an F-1 Visa, you must at least file Form 8843.
Who must file Form 8843?
Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).
All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition”—even if they received NO income during 2018. Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
• present in the U.S. during 2018
• a nonresident alien
• present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status
If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual’s age and even if the individual is not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ). If you are required to file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ, then include Form 8843 with your tax return on or before April 15, 2019.
Do I need to file a Form 8843 for my U.S. citizen child?
No, if your child is a U.S. citizen and did not earn any income, no tax forms need to be completed.
When is the Form 8843 due?
If you are submitting a tax return along with your Form 8843, then the documents should be submitted or postmarked by April 15, 2019. If you are filing the Form 8843 by itself because you did not have any U.S. sourced income, then the filing deadline is June 15, 2019.
What should I do if I didn’t receive or if I lost the Form W-2?
If you have not received Form W-2 or Form 1099, or received an incorrect form, contact your employer. You may not have received the form because of an incorrect or incomplete address. Be sure to verify the address used if already mailed. If the form was returned to the employer because of an incorrect address, or was never mailed, and the employer intends to issue or re-mail, allow a reasonable amount of time for this action to occur before calling the IRS for help.
What is the deadline to file taxes?
The deadline for filing a federal individual income tax return generally is April 15 of each year if your tax year ends December 31st. Your return is considered timely filed if the envelope is properly addressed and postmarked no later than April 15.
If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day. If you cannot file by the due date of your return, you can request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you should file Form 4868 “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” by the due date of your return.
For 2019, tax returns are due on April 15. If you are ONLY filing Form 8843, then the form must be postmarked on or before June 15, 2019.
I earned U.S. income in a previous year but did not file a tax return for that year. What should I do?
Anyone who failed to file a tax return for a previous year should do so as soon as possible.
I worked in 2018 but returned to my home country. Do I need to file U.S. tax forms?
Yes, all students and scholars who were in F or J status and were present in the United States in 2018 must file a tax report for that year. Ask your employer to mail the Form W-2 to your home country address or explain how you may access it online. If you overpaid federal tax, the IRS can mail a refund check overseas.
I just arrived in the U.S. in F or J status in 2019. Do I need to file taxes?
No. If you initially arrived in the U.S. during the calendar year 2019, then you are not required to file tax forms this year. Next year, you will be required to file tax returns, or at least Form 8843.
What is an ITIN? Do I need one?
ITINs are for federal tax reporting only and are not intended to serve any other purpose. The IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).
An ITIN does not provide authorization to work in the United States or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
You must apply for an ITIN if any of the following are true:
• You received a grant, fellowship or scholarship
• You earned interest from stocks, lottery or gambling
• You earned income on any other type of non-wage income
Am I a resident or nonresident for tax purposes?
A Resident or Non-Resident Alien for tax purposes is entirely different from a Permanent Resident. In 2018, if you were physically present in the U.S. for less than 5 calendar years as a student (arriving in the U.S. on or after January 1, 2014), then you are likely a nonresident alien for tax purposes. If 2018 was the 6th year that you have been physically present in the U.S. (arriving before December 31, 2013), and you were present in the U.S. for at least 31 days in 2018, then you are likely a resident alien for tax purposes.
What countries have a tax treaty with the U.S.?
The U.S. has a tax treaty with these foreign countries.
There is a tax treaty between the U.S. and my country. Do I still need to file U.S. tax forms?
Yes, all students or scholars who were in F or J status and were present in the United States in 2018 must file a tax report for that year. If your country has a tax treaty with the U.S., then this may mean that you pay less tax or are exempt from U.S. tax on certain types of income. You can find information about your country and the relevant type of income on page 19 of IRS Publication 901.
Do I need to be ACA health insurance compliant?
Form 1095 shows your health care coverage for the tax year. Nonresident aliens for tax purposes are exempt from the ACA health insurance requirement; you should keep the 1095, but you do not have to do anything with it. Resident aliens for tax purposes are not exempt; they have the same requirements as U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
I received a W-2 form. What do I do with it?
Your W-2 is a form that lists the information that the IRS received from your employer. If you take a look at some of the boxes, they say things like "Wages, tips, other compensation", "Federal income tax withheld", and so on. You will use this form to file U.S. taxes.
How do I get Form 1098-T?
The information on the 1098-T Form is being provided to assist the student with filing for the education tax benefits/tax credits. Nonresident aliens for tax purposes cannot claim education credits. To receive your 1098-T from Regis, send an email requesting the document to Christianna at email@example.com
What is the standard deduction?
The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed and varies according to your filing status; there is also an additional standard deduction for individuals who are blind or age 65 or over. You can find more information in IRS Tax Topic 551.
You CANNOT take the standard deduction if you itemize deductions. In addition, certain individuals cannot take a standard deduction or can take only a reduced standard deduction.
Resident aliens for tax purposes are eligible for the standard deduction. If you made less income than the standard deduction, it is still advised to file taxes and receive a refund that you may be eligible for. Plus, proof of filing taxes is important if you apply for permanent residency.
Nonresident aliens for tax purposes cannot claim the standard deduction. The only exception to this is if you are eligible for the U.S.-India Income Tax Treaty.
What is considered income that would require me to file taxes?
Wages, scholarships and earnings from investments.
a. Wages: the most common type of income. The money that is deducted from each paycheck is an estimated tax pre-payment.
b. Taxable scholarship payments: scholarships for tuition and fees are not taxable, but scholarships for room, board, books are taxable.
c. Investment income: stocks, bonds etc.… but not including bank interest, which rarely has an amount withheld in advance. Therefore, the income tax is paid during the tax return process.
W-2 – Form summarizing earnings; must be sent to you by all employers by January 31st each year
1042-S – Form listing treaty or scholarship income; sent to you by your university by March 15th each year
1099-INT – Form listing bank interest income if more than $10; sent to you by your bank
1099-DIV - Form listing any dividend income; sent to you by your investment company
1099-MISC – Form listing any miscellaneous income (from an internship, etc.)
1098-T – Form listing tuition paid (if any); sent to you by a U.S. university. Nonresident aliens for tax purposes cannot use this form on their tax returns. If you are a resident for tax purposes, and you did not receive this form, contact Christianna at firstname.lastname@example.org
1095 (A, B or C) – Lists insurance information to prove that you complied with the Affordable
Care Act and to show any subsidies received for insurance; sent to you by your insurance company or employer (if you had ACA-compliant insurance, call them to ask if you did not receive it).
Am I FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) and Medicare exempt?
Students on CPT, OPT, STEM OPT who are nonresident aliens for tax purposes are exempt from FICA Taxes (Social Security and Medicare Taxes). In other words, you don’t have to pay FICA taxes on your paycheck. Some employers would deduct those taxes from your paycheck, but you can get a refund on FICA taxes from the IRS.
I had no income last year as an F-1 or J-1 student. Do I need to file something this year?
Yes. You must file Form 8843 to declare that you had no income and to report the number of days you were in the United States. Spouses and dependents in F-2 and J-2 status must also file Form 8843.
How can I get help filing taxes?
Many sources of help are available. Some sources of help are free or low cost, such as resources from the IRS and other organizations. Alternatively, you can hire a tax professional to assist with filing your taxes.
Can I go to any VITA site for tax help?
Resident aliens for tax purposes can go to any VITA site. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, and other convenient locations across the country. To locate the nearest VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool or call 1-800-906-9887.
Nonresident aliens for tax purposes can only go to VITA sites where nonresident alien tax forms can be prepared. Check with the VITA site before you go.
Local area VITA sites for international students:
• University of Denver – thru April 6. You must make an appointment.
• Metropolitan State University of Denver – thru April 11. No appointment is necessary. Get Free Tax Prep Help
• Sprintax – online tax software for nonresident aliens for tax purposes. File both Federal and State Taxes using their software
What forms do I use to file taxes?
Form 8843 – If you were a nonresident alien (international students) in the previous year. If you received income, then you must send this form with your nonresident tax return. If you did not receive any taxable income, then no other tax forms are required with Form 8843.
Form 1040NR-EZ – Most international students on F-1 and J-1 visas who receive a W-2 (for salaries) or 1099 will file their income tax returns using this form. Use this only if you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes.
Form 1040NR – If you have complex tax returns to file (claiming dependents, itemizing tax returns, etc.), then Form 1040NR should be filed. Use this only if you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes.
Form 1040 – Use this only if you are a resident alien for tax purposes
You will also need to file states taxes. If you worked in more than one state in 2018 then you will need to file multiple state tax returns.
State of Colorado Form 104
Where do I file my tax return?
Nonresident aliens for tax purposes must mail forms; you cannot submit these online. Resident aliens for tax purposes can submit tax returns online.
FEDERAL TAXES: if you are GETTING MONEY BACK, forms will be mailed to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215
FEDERAL TAXES: If you OWE money, forms will be mailed with a payment to:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303
COLORADO STATE TAXES: if you are GETTING MONEY BACK, forms will be mailed to:
Colorado Department of Revenue
Denver, CO 80261-0005
COLORADO STATE TAXES: If you OWE money, forms will be mailed with a payment to:
Colorado Department of Revenue
Denver, CO 80261-0006
If ONLY filing Form 8843, then mail to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215