Frequently Asked Tax Questions
(for Tax Year 2015)
I'm an F-1 or J-1 student who entered the United States after December 31, 2010, and I had no U.S. income during 2015, or my only U.S. income was bank or credit union interest. Do I need to file any tax forms?
Yes. You need to file Form 8843. This is the only form you will need to complete. F-1 or J-1 students with U.S. income from other sources, such as dividend income, salary or wages, scholarships or fellowships, prizes or awards will need to file form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.
What about my F-2 and J-2 dependents?
All F-2 and J-2 dependents, whether or not they are students, must file Form 8843 even if they had no U.S. income of any kind for 2015, or if the only income they had was from bank interest. If there was any other U.S. income, they will also need to file a 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR.
I'm a new student/researcher for the Spring 2016 semester but arrived in the United States in late December 2015. Do I need to file a tax form?
Yes! If you are in F-1 or J-1 status, or a F-2 or J-2 dependent, and were in the U.S. for any part of 2015, even if it was just a few days, you will need to file a tax form. If you had no U.S. income in 2015, you will only need to file Form 8843.
If I have U.S. income other than bank interest, which form should I use, 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR?
Most students will find that they can use the 1040NR-EZ, which is much simpler to complete than the 1040NR. Whichever form you use, you must also complete Form 8843. However, there are some rules and limits for the 1040NR-EZ. This IRS document has more information.
What is the deadline for filing tax forms?
You must file your tax forms by April 15.
My bank (or credit union) has mailed me a form, called a Form 1099-INT, indicating the amount of interest I earned on my savings account/money market account/certificate of deposit. Do I need to include this amount on my income tax forms?
Non-residents do not include U.S. bank or credit union interest as income.
Both form 1040NR-EZ and 1040NR ask for social security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers. Is this the same as the number I was issued by the university when I was admitted? It has the same number of digits.
No. All F-1 and J-1 who have been authorized to work in the United States should have a Social Security number (SSN), issued by the Social Security Administration. Students in F-1 and J-1 status who do not yet have a social security number (and their dependents in F-2 or J-2 status who may not be eligible for a SSN) need an identification number to file their income tax form.
Such individuals must obtain an Individual Tax Payer Identification Number (ITIN) by filing Form W-7.
You and any dependents needing to apply for an ITIN will need a certification letter from International Affairs. Please email us:firstname.lastname@example.org, if you need such a letter. We will then give you instructions on how to apply.
The IRS has announced that F and J visa holders who have no U.S.-source income, and thus file only the Form 8843, need neither an SSN nor an ITIN to file Form 8843. However, the IRS strongly recommends that if you have an SSN you should use it on the form, as it may be important if in the future you apply for an immigration benefit.
I am a full-time student at UTHSC, but I also receive a Graduate Assistant stipend. Is the stipend considered to be wages?
Yes, Graduate Assistant stipends are wages. Adjunct stipends are also wages. In general, if you receive payment for performing a service, that is considered to be wages and is taxed as income. Students with GA stipends are considered to be part-time employees. The UT Payroll Office issues form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) in late January for wages you earned in calendar year 2015. The information on the W-2 will need to be included on your income tax return.
During the 2015 calendar year, I worked at locations other than UTHSC (for example, employment at a previous U.S. college or university, or authorized off-campus employment). Should I be receiving a Wage and Tax Statement (form W-2) from that employer?
Yes. Each employer for whom you worked in 2015 is required to issue you a wage and tax statement prior to the end of January. However, your former employer may not have your current address. You should contact your previous work places and inform them of your current address so that the W-2 form can be sent to you in a timely manner. Remember, by law, all employers MUST report your earnings to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. So, failure to receive a form W-2 from an employer does not eliminate the requirement that you report all taxable income earned from that employer.
I am a student from India, and I've heard that my country's tax treaty allows me to claim the standard deduction, but I can find no additional information about this benefit.
Information on this benefit can be found in IRS Publication 519, US Tax Guide for Aliens, p.27. Students from India have the choice of itemizing their deductions or taking the standard deduction amount. Since the standard deduction for 2015 is $6300 if you are single, most will take this amount. On form 1040NR-EZ, enter $6300 on line 11 if you are single. If you are married, and your spouse also files a return, enter $6300 on line 11. The standard deduction is $12,600 for Indian nationals who are filing as "married filing jointly" for 2015 on form 1040NR.
J-1 research scholars and faculty from India are not eligible for this benefit.
If my country has a tax treaty with the U.S., does that mean I don't have to file any tax forms?
No. In order to claim tax treaty benefits, you must file federal income tax forms 8843 and either 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR.
I've received a form 1042-S. How do I reflect this on my tax return?
It all depends upon the type of income being reported on the 1042-S. Look at the income code in column (a) of the form. An income code of 15 is for a scholarship or fellowship grant, and would be reported on line 5 of form 1040NR EZ or line 12 of form 1040NR. An income code of 19 refers to a tax treaty amount withheld from wages, and would be reported on line 6 of form 1040NR EZ or line 22 of form 1040NR. You would not include this amount as part of your wages on line 3 of form 1040NR EZ or line 8 of form 1040NR.
I am eligible to claim a tax treaty deduction, since my country has a tax treaty with the U.S. but I never received a form 1042-S. Instead, all of my earnings are reported on my form W-2. How do I complete form 1040NR-EZ to claim my tax treaty deduction?
Let's assume, for the sake of this example, that you are permitted to claim $2000 as your tax treaty amount to be deducted from wages. Subtract your tax treaty amount from your salary and wages as reported on your form W-2. Write the difference on line 3 of form 1040NR-EZ. If your tax treaty amount is more than your salary as reported on your W-2, write "0" on line 3. Then indicate the tax treaty amount on line 6. (You can verify your country's tax treaty information by consulting IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties. Be sure you are consulting the section, which summarizes tax treaty benefits for students.) Be sure to answer question "j" on page 2 completely.
How do I complete Form 8843?
All F-1 and J-1 students filing form 1040NR-EZ or form 1040NR must attach Form 8843 to it. F-1 and J-1 students and F-2 and J-2 dependents with no U.S. income, or for whom the only U.S. income is bank or credit union interest, complete Form 8843 only. To complete Form 8843, print your name and social security number (or individual taxpayer identification number) across the top of the form.
Complete Part I and Part III if you are a student, Part I and Part II if you are a faculty member or researcher, and Part I only if you are a F-2 or J-2 dependent. You may leave both the address information and signature line blank if you will be including this form with a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Also, see this information.
Can I file my Federal Income Tax Forms Electronically?
Forms 1040NR-EZ, 1040NR and 8843 cannot be filed electronically at this time, nor can they be faxed. They must be completed on paper and mailed to the Internal Revenue Service.
I received a Form 1098T "Tuition Payments Statement" for UTHSC. Does this mean I can claim the Hope Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit?
Non-residents for tax purposes cannot claim the Hope Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Those credits are available only to those who are eligible to file as residents for tax purposes. Colleges and Universities are required to mail those forms to the homes of all students each January, but not all recipients of the information are eligible to take advantage of it.
Where do I mail these forms?
Before mailing anything, MAKE COPIES FOR YOUR RECORDS!
Mail forms 8843, 1040NR-EZ and 1040NR and the appropriate attachments to:
- Internal Revenue Service Center
- Austin, TX 73301-0215
Note: some information above provided by International Student and Scholar Services Binghamton University (SUNY)
OIA staff are neither qualified nor permitted to give individual tax advice. Those with complicated tax situations may wish to consult with a tax preparation service, professional tax accountant, or tax attorney who is knowledgeable about nonresident tax law.
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