Virtually all F-1 and J-1 international students and scholars and their dependents must file an income tax form every year in order to be in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. This is true regardless of whether they earned income while in the United States. Income tax issues for foreigners are complex and confusing. The following is designed to give you a basic understanding of your responsibilities and tell you how to get more information. Do not construe the information presented here as individual tax advice!

U.S. Tax Season Assistance For CU Boulder International Students and Scholars

To assist nonresident alien filers with filing obligations this tax season, the Employee Services International Tax Office offers a variety of helpful resources including complementary Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR) software licenses for international students and employees who received income from CU in 2018.

Use the software to:

  • Prepare a 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ
  • View frequently asked questions
  • Understand various tax laws, treaties, regulations and more

Visit Employee Service online to view resources and request an FNTR license, while supplies last.

ISSS advisors are not tax experts. ISSS cannot give you any tax advice or help you with any tax issue. If you do not obtain an FNTR license and need tax assistance, you can consult a commercial tax preparer or use one of the few tax software programs available, such as:

If you want to seek advice from professional tax preparer, see handout Tax Preparation Specialists.

Payroll & Benefits Tax Specialist

Information about income taxes for international students and visiting scholars can be obtained from an international tax specialist at Payroll and Benefit Services. You will need to schedule an appointment to see an international tax specialist through their scheduling application on their website.


Please note that the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) use the terms "resident" and "nonresident" to mean different things. This can be confusing to visiting scholars and to sponsoring departments as well.

Frequently the choice of a nonimmigrant status for a visiting scholar will be affected by tax considerations. For example, a J-1 exchange visitor is generally considered a nonresident for tax purposes for two years, whereas an H-1B scholar might be able to declare resident status for tax purposes immediately, resulting in a tax advantage, in some cases. Other considerations will also affect a visiting scholar's tax status.


When you first begin employment in the United States, you will have to fill out a W-4 Form. This helps your employer estimate how much of your income should be "withheld" (or deducted) from your wages for the purpose of paying taxes. Your employer pays those amounts directly to the U.S. Treasury on your behalf. In your annual tax return, you must reconcile your account with the government to verify that you paid the right amount over the course of the year. If you paid too much, you can claim a refund, which will be paid promptly unless the government disagrees with your calculations.

Reporting Requirements for Dependents

F-2 and J-2 dependents, regardless of age, are expected to file the tax form 8843 annually in the United States, even if they have no income from a U.S. source. In the case of F-2s (who cannot work in the United States), the completion of a tax form is simple. A J-2 dependent, who may get permission to work in the United States, is taxed on his or her earnings.

Important Dates

  • April 15: The last day on which residents and nonresidents who have earned wages from U.S. sources may file their U.S. federal income-tax returns for the previous year.
  • June 15: The last day on which nonresident students and their dependents who have no wage income from U.S. sources in the previous year may file their Form 8843 and/or 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR returns.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Resources