COVID-19 Update: Many international students have been inquiring about COVID-19 federal CARES Act benefits like stimulus checks, unemployment insurance under (PUA), and the related public charge rule. Students are encouraged to research and consult a diversity of tax, immigration and employment law firms, state and federal departments of labor, and national immigration organizations. We have compiled information on these topics, available here. This document is for information purposes only and does not take the place of professional, competent legal and tax advice on these matters.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the nation’s tax season will start on Friday, February 12, 2021, when the tax agency will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns.
The February 12 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the December 27 tax law changes that provided a second round of Economic Impact Payments and other benefits.
ISSS is working to obtain Sprintax, tax preparation software for international students. Once we have obtained Sprintax, we will make an announcement in our weekly newsletter.
U.S. Income Tax Requirements
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.
How does the U.S. income tax system work?
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. This year, the return is due May 17, 2021. 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 2020, you must complete only Form 8843 and submit it to the IRS.
- If you have dependents in F-2 or J-2 status, a Form 8843 must be completed for each person, even minor children. and submit it to the IRS.
- 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 15th 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.
- To view a sample 8843 for students, click here. If you are a J-1 visiting scholar, click here for a sample Form 8843.
Form 1040 NR
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 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.
How to Use Sprintax For State & Federal Returns
- 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 1098-T: Please note, not all students are legally eligible for this form. Non-residents for tax-filing purposes are not eligible to use this form.
- 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.
Getting Tax Help
Sprintax provides a number of avenues to help when using their software:
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 the day they are due.
Tax Software for Individuals who are Residents for Tax Purposes
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.
International Employees at UAlbany
Tax Information for International Employees at UAlbany
The information contained in this web site/form is provided as a service to international students, faculty and staff at the University at Albany. It does not constitute legal advice. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site or form. Neither the University at Albany nor ISSS is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel; students may wish to consult an immigration attorney on the specifics of their case as needed.