Tax FAQs for J-1 Students & Scholars
1. Can the SCSU Office of International Education help me file my taxes?
The Office of International Education staff are not tax experts and cannot provide tax advice. To assist our clients, The Office of International Education recommends that you contact a tax preparation service such as: VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), ; or Sprintax. You may also search for local area Accountants or Tax Prep specialists. There are several online and software providers that can offer resources to assist you with your tax filing requirements.
2. Do I have to file a tax return? Even if I have not earned any income?
International students and scholars who have been in the U.S. for more than one day must file an annual tax report by the following year's tax filing deadline. You may be required to file taxes with the State of Connecticut as well. Income that is taxed includes wages, scholarships and earnings on investments. (A complete list of taxed income may be found in IRS and state tax guides.) The most common type of income is wages; the money withheld from each paycheck is an estimated payment of the federal and state income tax obligation. This money is sent by the employer to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board in the employee's account (the account number is the Social Security number). Taxable scholarship payments may have some amount withheld similar to wages. Investment income (not including bank interest) rarely has an amount withheld in advance; the applicable tax is paid when filing the tax forms.
NOTE: Even if you have not earned any income, international students and scholars must file IRS Form 8843: Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition.
3. What is the deadline to file tax forms?
If you received taxable income, the deadline is April 15. The deadline refers to the date the envelope is postmarked by the post office.
4. What should I do if I am unable to file my tax form by the deadline?
If you need more time, you can file Form 4868 to request an automatic extension of time until August 15. You will not be notified if the extension request is approved, it is automatic. If you owe any taxes, you must still mail the estimated tax payment by April 15 or you will be assessed penalties and interest as of April 15 on any payment owed. Be sure to sign and date the forms and keep copies for your records.
5. There is a tax treaty between the U.S. and my country. Should I file a tax form?
Yes, since you were present in the U.S. during 2015 you are required to complete and file a tax form.
6. What are some of the typical forms I may receive for tax filing purposes?
Some of the forms you may receive from SCSU, your employer or other sources are: 1042-S, W-2, 1099-INT, 1099-MISC, 1098-T.
7. Do I qualify as a non-resident or resident alien for federal tax purposes?
If you use a tax preparation software or service, you will be asked a series of questions based on the substantial presence test to determine your residence status for federal tax filing purposes. Your tax filing requirements will change if depending on if you qualify as a resident for tax purposes. You can also file your taxes with a tax preparation company such as H&R Block or Turbo Tax. Generally, tax treaties do not apply to individuals who qualify as resident aliens for tax purposes, there are of course, exceptions. Resident aliens for tax purposes file taxes in the same manner as U.S. citizens and residents.
8. I'm an F-1/J-1 student with no U.S. income or scholarships for the year. Do I need to file anything?
All non-resident aliens for tax purposes, in F or J status, are required to complete Form 8843 with the IRS regardless if payment was received or not. This also includes dependents in F-2 and J-2 status regardless of age.
9. I arrived in the U.S. in December of this year and I didn't work. Do I still have to file Form 8843?
All non-resident aliens for tax purposes, in F or J status, are required to complete Form 8843 with the IRS regardless is payment from an employer was received or not.
10. Does my F-2 or J-2 dependent need to file a tax form?
Yes, anyone in F or J status, present in the U.S. and a non-resident for tax purposes are required to complete a tax form. If your F-2 or J-2 dependent did not earn any income, they would be required to fill out Form 8843. J-2 dependents that received an EAD, and earned an income, may be required to complete additional tax forms.
11. Do I need to file a Form 8843 for my US citizen child?
No, if your child is a US citizen and did not earn any income, no tax forms need to be completed.
12. I worked in 2014 but returned to my home country. Must I file taxes in the U.S.?
Yes, all students or scholars who were in F or J status, a non-resident for tax purposes and were present in the United States in 2015 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.
13. 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-R, or received an incorrect form or information, 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 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.
If you have requested the W-2 from the employer but have not received your Form(s) W-2, the IRS will help you obtain the missing form(s). Call 1-800-829-1040 1-800-829-1040. Be prepared to provide your name, address (including zip code), phone number, Social Security Number, and dates of employment and the name, address (including zip code), and phone number of the employer. For additional information, see Tax Topic 154, "Form W-2 - What To Do if Not Received" on the IRS website.
14. Who will receive the form 1042-S from the University?
- A student or scholar who was employed and was exempt from tax withholding under a tax treaty.
- Any nonresident alien student or scholar who received a taxable fellowship/scholarship/grant stipend.
- Any nonresident alien who received a non-employee service payment will receive a 1042-S.
15. What should I do if I didn't receive Form 1042-S from SCSU?
The SCSU payroll office will distribute Form 1042-S no later than March 15. If you expect to receive a Form 1042-S and have not received it by March 15, please contact the Payroll Office. Not all students and scholars will receive a Form 1042-S.
16. Do I have to file taxes with the State of Connecticut?
The State of Connecticut (through the Department of Revenue Services) requires an annual report of income, and assesses tax on the same type of income that is taxed by the federal government. Individuals who earned less than the minimum filing requirement do not have to file. However, if any tax was withheld by the employer, the individual would want to file a return in order to be refunded for the withholding.
17. Do I have to file taxes in Connecticut if I did not earn income?
Unlike federal rules, Connecticut does not require an annual tax report from those who made less than the minimum filing requirement or had no income at all. Visit the Individual Filing Requirements section of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services for more information. If you do not have a filing requirement but had taxes withheld from your income, the only way you can get your money back is to file a Connecticut tax return. Students or scholars, who are considered a resident for Connecticut state tax filing, will complete and file Connecticut Tax Form 1040.
18. What are the consequences of not filing?
Payment of income tax due is not voluntary, it is required by law. One of the conditions of your visa is to comply with US law. If you owe taxes and don't file, 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.
19. I filed my tax report and am expecting a refund, but haven't received it.
Go to Where's My Refund? to track your refund. Where's My Refund? will usually have information about the refund three to four weeks after filing a paper return. Check weekly, on Wednesdays, for any updates to your refund information.
Note: The information above was adapted from tax FAQs written by our friends and colleagues at the Yale University Office of International Students and Scholars and the UC Berkeley International Office.