The information below is intended to provide general information on federal and state income taxes for international students. This resource guide does not constitute legal advice or an endorsement of tax professionals. ISSS advisers are not tax specialists and are not permitted to provide you with tax advice.
Where can I get my questions answered?
ISSS has purchased Glacier Tax Preparation (GTP) software to assist AU international students who qualify as nonresidents with their taxes. With this software, international students have access to GTP tutorials, informational videos about US taxes, and advice via email. In addition, this page links toIRS resources, including the IRS Foreign Student and Scholars webpage. Additional questions should be addressed to a professional Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who has the training to answer tax questions.
Glacier Tax Prep: Available February 2016 ISSS is pleased to announce that American University has purchased a license with Glacier Tax Prep to allow international students, scholars and alums who are nonresidents for tax purposes (see the Substantial Presence Test below, under "Who Needs to File What" to determine whether you were a nonresident for tax purposes in 2015) to file your FEDERAL TAXES on-line via your International Student/Scholar Profile in myau.american.edu. Once logged into your profile click on the link for Glacier Tax Prep Software.
Students/Scholars sponsored by other institutions DO NOT have access Glacier Tax Prep and must contact their sponsor directly regarding their tax returns.
Anyone in F-1 , J-1, F-2, or J-2 status, even if they did not work or have taxable scholarships or other income in the U.S. during 2015:
Submit form 8843, confirming the dates you were in the US.
(F-1 and J-1 students can use the free Glacier Tax Prep program under your International Student/Scholar Profile in myau.american.edu to complete the 8843 form. Dependents DO NOT have access to Glacier Tax Prep through myau.american.edu should fill out the 8843 form manually.)
If you worked or had taxable income in 2015 from scholarships or other sources, you are responsible for filing:
Federal Tax Forms (completed online through Glacier Tax Prep for nonresidents)
Form 8843 (can be completed online through Glacier Tax Prep for nonresident F-1 and J-1 students)
State (or DC) tax forms according to where you lived in 2015
Tax Documents Tax Forms from: Employers, Scholarships, Banks, or Investments
W-2: All employees who have taxable income from employment in the United States will receive a Form W-2, which is a statement of earnings. The Form W-2 is essential for filing a tax return. This form will be sent to the home address of the employee in mid-January.
1042-S: All nonresident aliens who received income as Graduate Financial Aid Stipends, Taxable Room and Board, Prizes and Awards for achievements, Consultant fees, Honorarium payments, wages exempt from taxes due to Tax Treaty Benefits with their home countries and Per Diem expenses will receive a Form 1042-S, which is a statement of that type of income received during the year. This form will be sent to the home address of the employee in mid-February.
1098-T: This is information relating to the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits. Generally, Forms 1098-T are not applicable to students who are nonresidents for tax purposes.
1099R: Students who had income withheld as part of the Public Employment Retirement System (PERS). Such a withholding happens when students work and are not enrolled (typically over the summer).
1099INT: From a bank for interest earned on checking/savings accounts. This is not reportable income for nonresident aliens.
1099DIV: Interest earned on investments. This is reportable income.
1099G: State income tax return received from the previous tax year. It is reportable income if it was used to lower a federal income earned from the previous tax year.
1099MISC: Income earned from various sources other than as an employee.
The GTP software will calculate the Substantial Presence Test for you to determine your nonresident or resident status.
If you prefer to calculate your status manually, follow the steps below: You meet this test and are considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes for 2015 if you were physically present in the United States for at least:
1) 31 days during 2015 (see exemption for days in the US as an F-1 or J-1 student below), and
2) 183 days during the period 2015, 2014, and 2013, counting all the days of physical presence in 2015 but only 1/3 the number of days of presence in 2014 and only 1/6 the number of days in 2013 (see exemption for days in the US as an F-1 or J-1 student below).
Do not count days when you can be considered an exempt individual, which includes: A student who is temporarily present under an F or J visa, who substantially complies with the requirements of the visa. However, you cannot be an exempt individual indefinitely. Generally, you will not be an exempt individual as a student in 2015 if you were exempt as a teacher, trainee, or student for any part of more than 5 calendar years. However, if you are a foreign student in the United States, and you have met the substantial presence test, you still may be able to claim you are a nonresident alien, under the "closer connection exception for foreign students" - in this case you must file a fully completed Form 8840 with the IRS to claim the closer connection exception. See Form 8840 in chapter 1 of Pub. 519 for the requirements and additional details. Additional information about the Substantial Presence Test can be found in chapter 1 of IRS Publication 519.
Step 1: complete form 8843 in Glacier Tax Prep free tax software Step 2: if US source of income was earned, complete appropriate form below in Glacier Tax Prep free tax software:
- 1040NR-EZ or
- 1040NR Step 3: Complete the appropriate state or DC tax forms Step 4: Print/Sign/Mail all tax forms.
Students who are considered resident aliens for tax purposes are liable for Social Security/Medicare taxes, and do not qualify to use Glacier Tax Prep software. If you earned income you will have to file the same tax forms as a U.S. citizen.
Free Tax Services Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) The VITA Program offers free tax help to people how need assistance in preparing their own tax returns (generally, $53,000 and below). IRS-Certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887. Please note that VITA volunteers may not have special training in nonresident tax issues.
Scholarships Chapter 3 Publication 519 If you are a candidate for a degree, you may be able to exclude from your income part or all of the amounts you receive as a qualified scholarship. The rules discussed here apply to both resident and nonresident aliens.
Social Security and Medicare Tax Chapter 8 Publication 519 Lawfully employed NONRESIDENT F-1, J-1, M-1, and Q are not subject to social security withholding or reporting requirements until their 6th year in the U.S.
If an F, J, or M is a RESIDENT ALIEN for tax purposes, their wages are subject to social security (FICA) and unemployment (FUTA) as U.S. citizens. J-2 and H visa holders, whether RESIDENT or NONRESIDENT, must pay social security tax.
Amending a Prior Year's Return Chapter 7 Publication 519 If you find changes in your income, deductions, or credits after you mail your return, file Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (1040X Instructions). Also use Form 1040X if you should have filed Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ instead of Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ, or vice versa. If you amend Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ or file the correct return, attach the corrected return (Form 1040, Form 1040NR, etc.) to Form 1040X. Print “Amended” across the top. Ordinarily, an amended return claiming a refund must be filed within 3 years from the date your return was filed or within 2 years from the time the tax was paid, whichever is later. A return filed before the final due date is considered to have been filed on the due date.
Tax Treaty Benefits Chapter 9 Publication 519 and Publication 901 IRS Publication 901 (U.S. Tax Treaties) will tell you whether a tax treaty between the United States and a particular country offers a reduced rate of, or possibly a complete exemption from, U.S. income tax for residents of that particular country. A nonresident alien (and certain resident aliens) from a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty may qualify for certain benefits.