Did you know that all international students and scholars must complete tax forms in the U.S.?

Every international student and scholar (including F-2 and J-2 dependents) enrolled in the U.S. in 2021 is expected to submit tax forms - even if they do not earn U.S.-sourced wages. Failure to file the necessary forms typically does not affect an international student’s current SEVIS status, but it could result in financial penalties and may be considered as a factor in future applications for work visas or permanent residence.

Filing instructions

If you did not earn wages or have scholarship income in 2021:

You are required to file Form 8843.  There is no need for you to purchase a Sprintax license!  Here are two resources you can use to help you file your 8843.

If you were enrolled in the U.S. in 2021 and earned wages (including employment wages, scholarships, gambling winnings, etc.):

You are required to file the Form 8843 and a corresponding tax return if you received a W2 or 1042-S. (NOTE: If you had no taxable income as a result of a tax treaty between the U.S. and your home country and were not eligible to receive a W-2, please follow the instructions above for those without U.S. sourced income.)

  • SEMO is offering discounted licenses for Sprintax to help you file your taxes. To repeat, there are no free NRA tax preparation services.  So if you have not been enrolled continuously in the U.S. since 2016, you cannot use any free tax preparation services.
  • To order the Sprintax license through SEMO, complete the Sprintax Non-resident Tax Preparation Code Request form.

If 2021 was your sixth year in the U.S. enrolled as an international student on a F or J visa: 

  • After completing your fifth calendar year enrolled as an international student in the U.S., you are considered a "resident for tax purposes." Please note this distinction on pertains to taxes, and it is the only realm in which you are considered a "resident." If you are considered as a "resident for tax purposes," you are allowed to use online services like Turbo-Tax or in person services like H&R Block. 
  • Also, "residents for tax purposes" may be able to claim the 1098-T form on their return.

Important Tax Information

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the taxation agency of the U.S. federal government is the Internal Revenue Service, commonly called the “IRS". The IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens is the official publication with definitive information on international students' filing requirement.

The majority of SEMO international students will file as a Non-Resident Aliens (NRA). A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card test or the “Substantial Presence Test”. This can be determined using the tax preparation service offered by IES if you had income. If you did NOT receive income, see Form 8843 in section below. Most international students and scholars are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes.

If 2021 was your 6th year of continuous living and/or studying in the U.S., you are eligible to file as “resident for tax purposes.” Please note the term “resident” only applies to your tax filing status and has nothing to do with your immigrant or non-immigrant visa status.

Residents for tax purposes may use free tax preparation services like TurboTax.  Also, they can claim the 1098-T form on their taxes.

The deadline to file your tax forms for the previous year is April 15. You must have your required tax forms for the year 2021 submitted by April 15.

IES can sell discounted Sprintax licenses to students to help them file their necessary forms. To order a license, please fill out the Sprintax Non-resident Tax Preparation Code Request Form

IES can answer basic questions about a student’s tax responsibilities. However, we are not tax professionals.  We are happy to advise students on their situations, but can assume no liability.

  • You need your passport and information on the exact dates you entered and departed the U.S. in the last 5 years.
  • If you earned wages in the U.S. in 2021, the main document(s) you need is your W2 form. You will have a W2 from all places you earned income in 2021.  Please make sure to contact your employer if you do not know where/how to access your W2 form.  If you worked for SEMO, your W2 form is available on the “Employee SS” on the portal. NOTE: Chartwells W2 forms are different than SEMO.  If you worked for both SEMO and Chartwells, you will have two separate W2 forms.
  • If you are an international student athlete and had scholarship money that paid for non-educational expenses, you will receive a 1042-S from Human Resources.
  • You cannot file your taxes until you have all these documents.

There are no free tax preparation software services for NRAs. If you are an international student filing as an NRA and use a free online tax preparation, you are likely committing tax fraud.  All free online tax services or widely promoted ones (e.g. TurboTax, H&R Block at Wal-Mart) assume you are a resident or citizen and will file as such.  Further, they are staffed with professionals who know very little about NRA filing requirements. However, international students who are eligible to file as a “Resident for Tax Purposes” may use those services. 

Sprintax is one of the few online services that prepares NRA tax returns.  International Education and Services can sell you a Sprintax license for the discounted price of $10.  Each code covers the cost of filing your basic federal form. 

Sprintax can also help NRAs with other services, including state returns, ITIN applications, and amending previous year returns.  Unfortunately, we do not have any discounted licenses for those services.

To order a code, please fill out the Sprintax Non-resident Tax Preparation Code Request Form.  The $10 charge for the license will go on your SEMO student account.

The 1098-T is a form SEMO sends to all students. The form is a report on the amount of tuition you paid to SEMO in 2021.  International students filing as NRAs have no use for this form on their taxes.  Student who can file as a “Resident for tax Purpose” will be able to enter the information on the 1098-T on their tax return.

SEMO’s international student merit-based scholarships (International Academic Excellence, International Academic Achievement, and International Student Award) are not considered income and do not have to be reported as income.

Scholarship money for international student athletes that cover room and board or other non-education expenses is considered income and needs to be included on your tax return. That information in included in your 1042-S.

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