Filing Form 8843
The IRS uses Form 8843 to identify individuals visiting the United States to study, teach, or research. This form is not an income tax return. It is an informational statement required by the U.S. government.
You must file Form 8843 if you meet all of these qualifications:
- Present in the United States in the previous year, before January 1 of the current year
- A nonresident alien
- F-1 or J-1 student or F-2 or J-2 dependent
If these qualifications apply, you must file Form 8843 whether or not you have earned income in the United States and regardless of your age.
How to complete Form 8843
Methods you can use:
- (SPRINTAX) Sprintax Software. This service is free; visit myPassport to find webinars, YouTube videos, and more prior to accessing the Sprintax software. After early March, return to myPassport to download the Sprintax software and receive a unique code to make the software free.
Completion time: About 20 minutes
- Download and print form 8843 from the IRS website. Follow the attached instructions to complete the form.
Completion time: About 20 minutes
Complete a form for each dependent
If you have F-2 or J-2 family members in the United States, you must complete a separate Form 8843 for each dependent.
If you use Sprintax, you will be prompted to enter information for each family member.
Documents needed to complete Form 8843
- I-20 or DS-2019
- Record of entry/entries to the United States for the most recent 3 years (if applicable)
Filing deadline: mid-April*
*Visit the IRS website for exact filing date deadline.
Salaries and wages that you earn as a noncitizen, as well as some scholarships and grants, are considered taxable income.
To assess your U.S. tax obligations, you will first need to determine if you are classified as a resident or nonresident for tax purposes.
Use the Substantial Presence Test to determine whether you are a resident or nonresident.
Residents and nonresidents are taxed under different systems.
|Tax system for residents||Tax system for nonresidents|
|Taxed on worldwide income||Taxed only on U.S.-sourced income|
|Receives forms 1099 and W-2||Receives forms 1042-S and W-2|
|Files Form 1040 tax return||Files Form 1040NR tax return|
|Eligible to itemize deductions||May not itemize deductions|
|May claim a standard deduction||May not claim a standard deduction|
|May claim unrestricted withholding allowances||Restricted withholding allowances|
Nonresident federal income tax guidelines
If you are a nonresident employed in the United States, you must file a federal income tax return (Form 1040NR (pdf)) with the Internal Revenue Service if 1 or more of the following is true:
- You have earned U.S. income from any source during the previous calendar year
Bank interest is not considered taxable income. However, you must report other types of U.S.-based investment income. The IRS provides more information in References for Foreign Students and Scholars.
- You are eligible to claim a refund of over-withheld taxes
The IRS provides more information in References for Foreign Students and Scholars.
- You are an F-1 or J-1 student and received a scholarship or grant from U.S. sources during the previous calendar year
Scholarships that paid all or part of your tuition bill are not taxable, including amounts reported on Form 1098T, Tuition Statement (pdf). Examples include (but are not limited to) the International Transfer Award and the International Merit Award. If such scholarships are your only source of income, then you need to file Form 8843.
If 1 of those conditions applies, you must file a tax return whether or not tax has been withheld from your paycheck.
As a nonresident, you will be taxed only on income earned from U.S. sources. Examples include but are not limited to the following:
- Graduate research or teaching assistantships (The living expense stipend portion is considered wage income)
- Scholarship income exceeding tuition, mandatory fees, and books, such as a scholarship that pays room and board expenses (The tuition and fee portion of any scholarship is exempt from taxes and should not be entered into your nonresident tax forms)
- Campus student job
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) job
- Dividend income from investment
- Any job for which you were paid a wage or salary
You do not need to file the 1040NR (only the 8843) for the following:
- Tuition waivers or reductions
- Interest earned from a bank savings account
Earnings from J-1 employment are usually subject to federal, state, and local income taxes.
Filing requirements for dependents
If you have J-2 dependents who are employed in the United States, they are subject to federal income taxes and must file a federal income tax return.
Resident federal income tax guidelines
If you are considered a resident of the United States, you are generally required to pay income tax in the same manner as a U.S. citizen.
You must report all wages, interest, dividends, or other types of income on your U.S. tax return, regardless of whether their sources were within or outside the United States.
Preparing your federal taxes
To file your income tax return, use forms intended for nonresident tax filers—unless you have resided in the United States long enough to use a resident form.
Be sure to get the correct form. If you use an incorrect form, you may have to file an amended form later or pay retroactive taxes.
Unsure? Use Sprintax (access code available through International Student and Scholar Services on myPassport at no charge). It will determine the correct tax residency status for you within 5 minutes.
Where to get tax forms and instructions
Wage, tax, and income statements
Employers and universities must report to the IRS your income from wages and scholarships, as well as tax money withheld from your paycheck. Your employer will also send you a statement with this information by January 31 each year.
The following are the most common types of statements for international students and academic staff.
W-2 Wage and Tax Statement
This statement identifies taxes, if any, that were withheld from your paycheck in the previous calendar year. You will receive 4 copies directly from the institution that employed you or awarded you scholarship money. W-2 forms from WSU arrive by mail during the month of January.
You can also find your W-2 online at myWSU under “HR, Payroll, and Benefits”
Include the copy marked “Federal” when filing your 1040NR. Keep the copy marked “Employee” for your records.
1042S Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding
You may receive this income statement if you are receiving certain non-wage income (such as a room and board scholarship) or wages exempt from income tax due to a tax treaty. It will be sent to you directly from the institution that employed you or awarded you scholarship money. 1042S forms arrive in February.
1098T Tuition Statement
The university will send you Form 1098T (pdf) if it has reimbursed or refunded to you any qualified tuition or related expenses. The form is a record of the amount you paid (or WSU paid on your behalf) for tuition and mandatory fees in the previous calendar year.
If you are a nonresident, you cannot use or claim items on the Form 1098T when calculating and filing your tax return. However, you should keep the form for your records.
Preparing your federal tax return
Although you may download and complete the forms yourself or hire a tax professional, we recommend that you use Sprintax (SPRINTAX). This internet-based tax preparation software is designed exclusively for international students and scholars.
Getting started with Sprintax
Request an access code from International Student and Scholar Services on myPassport and follow directions to create a user account. Then log in and begin the question-and-answer format.
When you complete the process, Sprintax will create a pdf file. You must download, print, and mail this document to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. This information is given in the pdf with instructions.
- 10 minutes to gather documentation
- 40 minutes to operate software, download and print forms, and mail
File your return by mail
If you are a nonresident, you cannot file your tax return electronically. Mail your tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service at the address provided in the instructions. There are mailing services on campus in the CUB at CougPrints. International Programs will not mail your tax return for you.
Preparing tax forms as a resident
You have several options to complete your tax return:
- Professional tax assistance
Hire a qualified professional tax preparer. Check the phone directory under the general heading Tax Return Preparation, Accountant, or similar. Charges apply. Fees can be based on an hourly rate or flat fee. You may ask for a fee estimate prior to entering into an agreement, but we advise that you do not attempt to bargain down the price.
- Tax preparation software
Purchase a commercial tax software program from an office supply retailer, at certain department stores, or over the internet.
- Prepare your own tax return
- Free File software from the IRS
- Paper form (Form 1040 (pdf)) and instructions
Claims on your tax return
Claiming a standard deduction
You may claim a standard deduction only if your specific tax treaty allows this (e.g., India) or if you are considered a resident for tax purposes. Sprintax will use all applicable tax treaties in calculating your return.
Claiming dependents as exemptions
You must have a taxpayer identification number for each dependent family member whom you claim on your tax return. You may use any of the following:
- Social Security number
- Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
- Form W-7 (pdf) for each family member, which you attach to your form 1040NR
Claiming benefits for dependents
Few treaties allow tax benefits for dependent family members. If you are a nonresident and use Sprintax to calculate your taxes, all applicable tax treaties pertaining to dependent family members will be applied to your tax return.
Claiming the Child Tax Credit
You may claim this credit only if you meet the following conditions:
- You are eligible, due to a tax treaty, to claim a personal exemption for the child, and
- Your dependent child meets all of the following criteria:
- Born in the United States
- Lived with you in the United States for at least 6 months
- Was under age 17 on December 31 of the previous calendar year
- Possesses a Social Security number or ITIN
To determine how to claim the credit, follow the instructions for Form 1040NR or use Sprintax.
Claiming the Earned Income Credit
If you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, you are not eligible for the Earned Income Credit.
Claiming the Tuition Tax Credit
If you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, you are not eligible to claim a Tuition Tax Credit.
Claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit
If you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, you are not eligible to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
Filing deadline mid-April*
*Visit the IRS website for the exact filing deadline
Tax payments and refunds
If an insufficient amount of tax has been withheld from your paychecks, you will be required to pay the balance that you owe when you file your tax return. On the other hand, if too much tax has been withheld, you will receive a refund.
Income tax laws are extremely complex. If you have questions, ask the IRS or a reliable tax consultant.
Income earned in Washington
The state of Washington does not have an income tax. If you earned your income in Washington, you do not need to pay state tax.
Income earned in another state
If you transferred to WSU from a school in a state that has state income taxes, you should receive a Form W-2 or 1042S from that institution.
International Student and Scholar Services cannot assist you with filing state income tax forms. However you can attempt any of the following:
- Ask officials at your former school if they can help
- Check the website for the tax-collection unit in the state where you earned your income. Many states provide free tax filing assistance
- Hire a qualified tax professional in the Pullman/Moscow area
The U.S. Social Security Administration provides social welfare and social insurance programs. These programs are funded through payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax or Self Employed Contributions Act (SECA) tax. If you are authorized for employment in the United States, you will need a Social Security number to get paid.
Social Security tax
If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, FICA tax will be withheld from your paycheck.
Generally, if you are an F-1 or J-1 student, you will become a resident for tax purposes after you have been in the United States for 5 years. In some circumstances, full-time students may retain nonresident status beyond 5 years.
J-2 dependents are subject to FICA taxes.
Obtaining a Social Security number
Contact the closest Social Security Administration office in Lewiston, Idaho. There is no office in Pullman, Washington.
You will need to provide a completed application and supporting documents. Applying for a Social Security number is free.
You must obtain a letter from your J program sponsor proving employment for the Social Security number application. If WSU issued your DS-2019, International Student and Scholar Services will provide the letter you need.
The Social Security Administration provides a publication (pdf) detailing the application process.
ITIN: Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
An ITIN is necessary if:
- You need to file a 1040NR tax return, and
- You were NOT eligible to obtain a Social Security number
- You received scholarships to cover expenses other than tuition and fees
- You need to claim a tax benefit for a dependent family member
How to apply for an ITIN
File a Form W-7 (pdf) along with your tax return. If you are using Sprintax, Form W-7 and instructions are included.
If you would like or need to apply for your ITIN prior to filing taxes, please use one of these options.
Make an appointment at a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. This will not require mailing documents.
Apply for an ITIN in person using the services of an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent. This will not require mailing documents.
- Complete Form W-7. Mail in the original.
- Bring your original immigration documents to ISSS to get an ITIN certification letter.
- Visa stamp (Canadians are exempt from this requirement)
- Current I-20/DS-2019
- Most recent electronic I-94. You must print this document from the DHS’ I-94 website.
- Make copies of your immigration documents. You do not need to mail in the original documents.
- Include a copy of your WSU scholarship showing it covers expenses other than tuition and feed (typically room and board). Or you may send other documentation showing a valid reason you need an ITIN.
- Mail everything to:
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Austin Service Center
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
All forms and documents must be single-sided. The IRS typically processes ITIN applications and makes decisions within 8-12 weeks.
Immigration status and tax withholding
Your immigration status (F-1, J-1, H-1B, permanent resident, etc.) influences the amount of income tax and Social Security tax you owe.
Tell your employer your immigration status. If the proper amount of tax is not withheld from your paychecks, you will eventually be subject to a retroactive bill for back taxes. It could be a sizable amount.
If you are employed by WSU
It is your responsibility to inform Payroll Services of your immigration status when you begin employment.
If your employer mistakenly withheld Social Security taxes
If you are an F-1 or J-1 student or J-1 scholar, you are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes as long as you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes.
If Social Security tax is mistakenly withheld, you may recover the money. First seek a refund from your employer. If the employer is unable or unwilling to supply the refund, complete IRS Form 843 (pdf) and Form 8316 (pdf). Submit them to the IRS according to the instructions. It could take a year or more to receive the refund from the IRS.
Sprintax can help with this for an additional fee.
J-2 employees are not eligible for a refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. The filing period this calendar year is for those who were present in the United States during the previous calendar year.
You must file a form 8843 if you were physically present for any days (even 1) in the previous year. A separate Form 8843 must also be filed for each dependent accompanying you. The 8843 is a form that notifies the taxing authority about your student or exchange visitor status.
Nonresident aliens who earned wages that are less than the amount of 1 personal exemption ($4,000 for the previous calendar year) are not required to file a tax return, but they must still file Form 8843 for themselves and any spouse and/or dependents in F-2 or J-2 status.
You must file Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR in addition to Form 8843 if you had U.S. earned income of $4,000 or more, had wages or scholarship income exempt by treaty, or wish to claim a refund of taxes (if eligible). Your bank interest is NOT considered taxable income.
If you earned less than $4,000 in wages and were withheld income taxes you may be eligible for a refund of federal withholding tax. We recommend you use Sprintax (SPRINTAX) to assist you.
Yes. Go to the IRS website and download form and instructions for 1040NR-EZ.
Alternative: use a tax accountant in Pullman/Moscow. Or buy a license for the previous year from Sprintax.
If you received U.S. income in the previous calendar year you will receive a W-2 or 1042S directly from the institution that employed you or awarded you the scholarship money. W-2 forms from WSU arrive by mail in January. 1042S forms arrive in February. Scholarships that paid all or part of your tuition bill are not taxable. If that is your only source of income in the tax year, then you need to file only form 8843, not a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.
We suggest you log into your myWSU account under Payroll information, or on the Payroll Services “Online Earnings Statements” website to view your payroll and tax record. If a W-2 appears in your record you can simply print the W-2 form from the website and submit it with your tax forms (1040-EZ or 1040NR)
An ITIN is obtained by filing a W-7 together with your tax form (example: 1040NR-EZ). If you are using SPRINTAX, the W-7 forms and instructions are included (highly recommended). If you do not intend to use SPRINTAX, see the IRS website for form W-7 and instructions.
No, not if your income was earned in Washington state.
You should receive a W-2/1042S from that institution. The IP-International Student and Scholar Services tax assistance program will not provide help with filing state income tax forms. However, you can attempt one of the following:
- Check with your former school to see if they will offer assistance
- Check with the official website for the state in which you earned your income. Many states provide free tax filing assistance
- Hire a local qualified tax professional in your area
If you are filing as a tax “nonresident alien (NRA),” you will not report any information from the 1098T into your 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ or into SPRINTAX. Use SPRINTAX to determine your eligibility for reducing your taxable income. Since it is a record of the amount you paid (or WSU paid on your behalf) for tuition and mandatory fees to WSU in the previous calendar year, we suggest keeping it for your records.
Graduate assistantships are treated differently from other scholarships. The living expense stipend is considered “wage” income since you are providing a “service” in exchange for the income. The tuition and fee portion of any scholarship is exempt from taxes and should not be entered into your nonresident tax forms.
No, you may not file free electronically if you are a tax “nonresident alien” student or scholar filer.
Few treaties allow tax benefits for dependent family members. All tax nonresidents who use SPRINTAX will have applicable tax treaties pertaining to dependent family members applied to their return.
IMPORTANT: To claim any dependent family member you must have a taxpayer identification number such as an SSN or ITIN, or file a form W-7 for each family member attached to your form 1040NR. SPRINTAX will guide you through this process.
F-1 or J-1 students or J-1 scholars are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes as long as they are considered “nonresident” for tax purposes. If Social Security tax is mistakenly withheld, the money may be recovered. First, seek a refund from your employer. If the employer is unable or unwilling to supply the refund, you must complete IRS forms 843 and 8316 and submit them to the IRS according to the instructions. It could take a year or more to receive a refund from the IRS. J-2 employees are NOT eligible for a refund of FICA and Medicare taxes.
Yes, only if you meet the following conditions:
- You are eligible, due to a tax treaty, to claim a personal exemption for the child, and
- The dependent child was:
- born in the United States, and
- lived with you in the United States for at least 6 months, and
- was under age 17 on December 31 in the previous calendar year and
- possesses an SSN or ITIN
To claim the credit, if you are eligible, we recommend you use SPRINTAX.
International students and scholars who are tax “nonresidents” are NOT eligible for Earned Income Credit.
You may want to contact the following tax authorities:
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
920 W. Riverside Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201-1010
WSU Payroll Services
For questions regarding income tax, FICA (Social Security and Medicare contributions), or the amount you were paid last year. Be sure to review the basic guidelines about taxation for non-U.S. citizens.