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 with U.S. tax filing obligations, the Employee Services International Tax Office is offering a variety of helpful resources including Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) software. Please check the Employee Services website for updates.
ISSS advisors are not tax experts. ISSS cannot give you any tax advice or help you with any tax issue. 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. While an F-1 student and J-1 exchange visitor hold nonimmigrant/nonresident status in terms of immigration, they can in some instances be considered a resident for tax filing purposes.
- Introduction to Residency Under U.S. Tax Law
- Determining Tax Status
- Green Card Test and Substantial Presence Test
- Which Tax Form to File
- Dual Status Taypayer
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.
- 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.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
To request an ITIN, complete the IRS Form W-7.
- The free software, Glacier Tax Prep (GTP), that is made available to eligible nonresident students and scholars from CU's International Tax Office can help complete the W-7 application and provide additional instruction. It is not required to use GTP to complete the Form W-7.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Resources
- International Students and Scholars
- IRS Tax Topic: Resident and Non-Resident Aliens
- Publication 519: U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
- Publication 901: U.S. Tax Treaties
- Form 8843: Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition.
- Also review Employee Services Form 8843 Resource Guide for more information.
- Form 1040NR: U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
- Form 1040NR-EZ: U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens with No Dependents