Did you know that all international students and scholars must complete tax forms in the U.S.?
Yes, every international student and scholar (including F-2 and J-2 dependents) who was here in 2020 is legally required to complete tax forms for each year they were enrolled in a U.S. school, even if they do not earn U.S.-sourced wages. This page is to help you understand your F1 or J1 visa holder tax reporting obligations. If tax filing or forms are not correctly filed, international students could be penalized, assessed fees, and/or have difficulties renewing visas or changing status.
Important Tax Information
- The Office of International Education and Services staff will do our best to help you to meet your tax filing obligations. However, we are not tax professionals and will not assume any liability for incorrect information. Students are encouraged to seek the advice of tax professionals if they have questions they feel are not being answered by IES staff. For more information about taxation regulations in the USA, visit the Internal Revenue Services’ website at www.irs.gov and/or contact a tax professional knowledgeable of nonresident taxes.
- 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 income tax reporting for the previous year deadline is April 15. You must have your required tax forms for the year 2020 submitted by April 15.
- 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.
- However, if in 2020 you had lived and/or studied in the U.S. for more than 5 calendar years, you are eligible to file as “resident for tax purposes.” Please note the term “resident” only applies to tax filing status and has nothing to do with your immigrant or non-immigrant visa status.
- 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.
- Most free tax services or widely promoted one (e.g. TurboTax) cannot do NR tax retruns. Unless you have been a student in the US continuously since at least 2015, you cannot use these tax services.
- 2020 is the first year international students can file their tax forms electronically (otherwise known as e-filing). This will make your filing requirements much simpler!
- NRAs are not eligible to deduct educational expenses from their taxable income. If you are filing as an NRA, you can ignore the 1098-T you received from SFS.
- NRAs married to another NRA must file their tax forms separately. ·Keep copies of ALL tax documents. You may need these in the future.
- Merit-based scholarships (i.e, International Academic Excellence, International Academic Achievement, International Student Award) are not considered income! However, athletic scholarships that cover more than educational expenses is.
- Almost all the documents you'll need to file your tax return are available online. If you earned wages in the U.S. in 2020, the main document you need to file is your W2 form. Please make sure to contact your employer if you do not know where/how to access your W2 form.
Who is a nonresident alien?
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 Southeast international students and scholars are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes.
What forms do I need to complete?
The proper forms you need to file are determined by factors like how long you’ve been in the U.S. and whether or not you earned wages. The Office of International Education and Services can help you in a few different ways. Please read below to determine what is the best for you.
If you were enrolled in classes in the U.S. in 2020 but did not receive any U.S.-sourced income (SEMO merit-based scholarships are not considered income), your only obligation is to complete the Federal 8843 form. Below are two different options to help you complete the 8843 form. Each option is fairly simple, just be sure to carefully read all the instructions.
Form 8843 is not an income tax return form. It is a document required by the U.S. government for F and J visa holders to declare their nonresident status. It is also called, ‘Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition.’
How to fill out the Federal Form 8843
All international students and scholars (including their dependents) present in the U.S. in 2020, whether they worked and earned money or not, are required to complete and send in the 8843 form. To access a free online form completion wizard.
If you prefer to complete the form on your own, please follow these instructions.
- Enter your first (given) name, initial, and last (family) name. For example, if your name is John David Smith, your first name and initial is John D., and your last name is Smith.
- Enter your “U.S. taxpayer identification number” (this is your Social Security number). If you do not have a Social Security number, leave the box blank.
- If you did not work in the U.S. in 2020 you must enter your addresses in both your homecountry and current address here in Cape Girardeau. If you did work and are completing other tax forms, you can leave the address section blank.
Answer all the questions in Part I.
- 1a: Enter the date you first entered the U.S. and the type of visa youhad.
- 1b: If you have not changed your visa status since coming to the U.S., enter “same” for 1b. If you have, enter the type of visa and the date it changed.
- 2: Enter your country of citizenship.
- 3: Enter the country that issued your passport.
- 3b: Enter your passport number.
- 4a: Enter the number of days you were present in the U.S. for the years listed. If you were not in the U.S., leave it blank or put “N/A.”
- 4b: Enter the same number as you entered for 2020 in 4a.
Leave Part II blank.
Answer all the questions in Part III.
- 9: Enter: Southeast Missouri State University, 1 University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701, (573) 986-6863
- 10: Enter: Brooke DeArman, 1 University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701, (573) 986-6863
- 11: Enter the type of visa you held during the years listed. If you were not in the U.S. during one of the years, leave it blank.
- 12: Check “no” unless you have been in the U.S. more than 5 calendar years. If you checked “yes” you must provide information on why you have been here for more than 5 years and that you do not intend to apply for permanentresidency.
- 13: Check “no” unless you have taken steps to apply for permanent residency.
- 14: Only fill out if you checked “yes” in Question 13.
Leave Parts IV and V blank.
- Print pages 1 and 2 of the 8843. Sign your name and write today’s date on the bottom part of Page 2.
- If you did not work in 2020, the 8843 is the only form you must complete. Mail the completed and signed Federal Form 8843 to: Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service Center Austin, TX 73301-0215
If you were enrolled in the U.S. in 2020 and earned wages (including employment wages, scholarships, gambling winnings, etc.):
You are required to file the Form 8843 and a corresponding tax return. You should have a document from all your 2020 income sources that detail exactly how much income you earned, what type of income it was, and how much tax was withheld. The most common income reporting forms are the W-2 for employment wages, and the 1042-S for scholarship income. You cannot complete your tax return if you do not have documents for all your income. (Please note, Chartwells employment is different than SEMO employment, and each has their own W-2 forms. So if you worked for Chartwells and in a SEMO office, you should have two different W-2 forms.)
Also, please note that 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.
If 2020 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 servcies like H&R Block. International Tax Form.
Also, "residents for tax purposes" may be able to claim the 1098-T form on their return.