While in the U.S., international students and scholars must comply with U.S. tax requirements. This information is not intended as professional tax advice and the information is subject to change without notice. ISSS staff cannot advise you on your taxes as they are not certified tax consultants.
The U.S. income tax system is made up of several categories, including federal (resident and non-resident) and state taxes. While working or studying in the U.S., individuals are required to file an annual tax report and pay the U.S. government a percentage of all U.S. income, or receive a refund on taxes overpaid. The tax amount depends on residency status, marital status, income and the number of allowable deductions.
The agency responsible for collecting federal taxes is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For most individuals, the annual tax report, referred to as a tax return, is due every April 15th. It is a reconciliation document for the previous calendar year, comparing the tax amount due to the wages and other income withheld by the individual’s employer or school. If an individual pays more tax than required, the U.S. government refunds the amount overpaid. If the individual pays less tax than required, he or she must pay the remaining balance at the time of filing the annual return.
All international students and scholars and their dependents must complete form 8843.
- If didn’t have income in 2014, you must complete only Form 8843. The form must be submitted to the IRS by June 15, 2014.
- If you have dependents in F-2 or J-2 status, a Form 8843 must be completed for each person, even minor children. The form must be submitted to the IRS by June 15, 2014.
- If you did have income, you will complete the 8843 with the other tax forms you submit for tax purposes and it is due on April 15 with these other forms.
- You can download Form 8843 from the IRS. The purpose of Form 8843 is to demonstrate to the U.S. government that you are eligible for nonresident alien status for tax purposes and therefore exempt from being taxed on income you may have from outside the U.S.
If you received income (wages, scholarships, housing stipends, cash awards, etc.), you must file special U.S. tax forms for non-residents (most likely a 1040-NR).
- Non-resident students should not use software or tax services for citizens. This would include services such are TurboTax, H&R Block. These services are not designed for the tax treaties that apply to most international students.
- University at Albany has purchased Sprintax Tax Preparation software to help you file both your federal and state income tax returns. Sprintax is a web-based tax preparation system designed primarily for nonresident alien students and scholars to aid in preparing their 2014 federal and state income tax returns.
- Federal Tax: The federal return will be free with a code from ISSS that you fill in at the end of your Sprintax session.
- State Tax: There will be a small fee for the NY state return that you will pay prior to completing the state form. If you worked or lived in another state, you may need to file a return in that state also.
- Contact the ISSS office for a Sprintax code. You can reach us by e-mail, phone or come into the office.
- Go to https://sprintax.com/suny-albany and create an account.
- Gather applicable tax documents that should be sent to you by mail which may include:
° Form W-2
° Form 1042-S
° Form 1099-T
- Gather your visa/immigration status, including:
° Your passport
° Your Arrival/Departure History (www.cbp.gov/I-94)
° Form I-20 or DS 2019
° Your EAD card or I-797 Approval Notices if applicable
- Have a copy of last year’s tax return available, if you filed one.
- Plan on spending up to 30 minutes to complete your Federal tax return on Sprintax.
- Although Sprintax is an online system, you CANNOT file your tax return electronically. You will have to print, sign and mail the tax return generated by Sprintax once you have completed it. Sprintax will provide you with instructions about the address to which you must mail your tax return.
- State Taxes: After you complete your federal tax return do not forget to file your New York State tax return too. This can be done through Sprintax for a fee. The ISSS discount code does not apply to State taxes.
- You should keep copies of all forms you submit.
Sprintax provides a number of avenues to help when using their software:
- On-line chat when you are logged into Sprintax
- Email Hello@sprintax.com
- YouTube video – How Sprintax Works
US Federal government guides and forms
NY State government guides and forms
- It is important that receive help that is appropriate to your status as a Non-resident, unless you have been in the US long enough to be considered a resident for tax purposes.
- Tax Returns must be postmarked by midnight on April 15.
If you have been in the US long enough that you are a resident for tax purposes, the IRS website provides free filing services online at Free File. You also have the option to use web-based services, like TurboTax, H&R Block At Home Tax Software, or TaxSlayer, among others. ISSS does not endorse any one program and you should research your options to find out which one will best suit your needs.