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International On Campus

Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the tax collection agency of the U.S. government. Even if you do not need to pay taxes, you may still need to file certain documents with the IRS to maintain legal status in the United States.

Please note: Information on this page has been obtained from a variety of sources as a reference for you. We urge you also to consult official government sources and (if necessary) seek help from qualified tax professionals.

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:

  1. Present in the United States in the previous year, before January 1 of the current year
  2. A nonresident alien
  3. 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:

  • Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) software. This service is free; ask WSU International Programs’ Global Services office for an access code.
    Completion time: About 20 minutes
  • Fill in forms manually at the Global Services office (Bryan Hall, Room 108.
    Completion time: About five 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 Glacier Tax Prep, you will be prompted to enter information for each family member.

Documents Needed to Complete Form 8843

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Record of entry/entries to the United States for the most recent three years (if applicable)

Filing deadline: June 1, 2017

Residency

Salaries and wages that you earn as a non-citizen, 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 or 1040NR-EZ 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 or Form 1040NR-EZ) with the Internal Revenue Service if one 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. If your earned income is less than the amount of one personal exemption ($4,000), you do not need to file an income tax return.
  • You are eligible to claim a refund of over-withheld taxes.
    If you earned less than $4,000 in wages and income taxes were withheld, you are eligible for a tax refund.
  • 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. 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 only need to file Form 8843.

If one of those conditions applies, you must file a tax return whether or not tax has been withheld from your paycheck.

Income Examples

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 non-resident 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 or 1040NR-EZ (only the 8843) for the following:

  • Tuition waivers or reductions
  • Interest earned from a bank savings account

J-1 Visitors

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

Tax Forms

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 Glacier Tax Prep software (access code available through Global Services at no charge). It will determine the correct tax residency status for you within five minutes.

The IRS also offers a guide to help you determine if you are a nonresident or resident for tax purposes.

Forms for Nonresident Taxpayers

Form 1040NR Form 1040NR-EZ

Forms for Residents

Form 1040 Form 1040-EZ

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 four 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 print a W-2 form from the WSU website to submit with your tax forms.

Include the copy marked “Federal” when filing your 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. 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 nonwage income (like 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 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 will probably not use 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 Glacier Tax Prep (GTP). This internet-based tax preparation software is designed exclusively for international students and scholars.

Getting Started with GTP

Request an access code and follow directions to create a user account. Then log in and begin the question-and-answer format.

When you complete the process, GTP will create two PDF files. You must download, print, and mail both files to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service.

Estimated time

  • 10 minutes to gather documentation
  • 50 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. 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

Claims on Your tax Return

Claiming a Standard Deduction

You may only claim a standard deduction if your specific tax treaty allows this (e.g. India) or if you are considered a resident for tax purposes. Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) 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 Glacier Tax Prep software 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 only claim this credit if you meet the following conditions:

  1. You are eligible, due to a tax treaty, to claim a personal exemption for the child, and
  2. Your dependent child meets all of the following criteria:
    1. Born in the United States
    2. Lived with you in the United States for at least six months
    3. Was under age 17 on December 31 of the previous calendar year
    4. Possesses a Social Security number or ITIN

To determine how to claim the credit, follow the instructions for Form 1040NR or use Glacier Tax Prep software.

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

April 18, 2017

You can begin filing on January 1, 2017.

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.

State Taxes

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.

Global 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.

Social Security

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 tax (FICA) or Self Employed Contributions Tax Act (SECA). If you are authorized for employment in the United States, you will need a Social Security number in order to get paid.

Social Security Tax

If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, FICA tax will be withheld from your paycheck.

Generally speaking, 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 five years. In some circumstances, full-time students may retain non-resident status beyond five 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.

J-1 Students and Interns

You must obtain a letter from your J program sponsor proving employment for the Social Security number application. If WSU issued your DS-2019, Global Services will provide the letter you need.

Detailed Information

The Social Security Administration provides a publication (pdf) that details the application process.

ITIN: Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

An ITIN is necessary if:

  • You need to file a 1040NR-EZ or a 1040NR tax return, and
  • You were NOT eligible to obtain a Social Security Number.

Examples include:

  • 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 along with your tax return. If you are using GTP, Form W-7 and instructions are included.

Immigration Status & 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.

You must also notify Payroll Services, Global Services, and the hiring department if your immigration status changes while you are employed.

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 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.

J-2 employees are not eligible for a refund of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Need Help?

You may want to contact the following tax authorities:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
920 W. Riverside Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201-1010
1-800-829-1040

 

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.

Disclaimer

Information on this page has been obtained from a variety of sources as a reference for you. The Office of International Programs does not make any claim for accuracy, and will not be liable for mistakes you make in your tax return.

Washington State University