Tackling taxes as an International Student in the U.S.

It’s that time of year again. The time when tax payers frown and accountants work day and night.  Those of us who underpaid are writing checks to the government, while those who overpaid are happy to be receiving a return.  And yes, the U.S. federal government requires all international students and scholars with J, F,Q and M visas to file at least one tax form each year. Whether or not they had earned income during the tax year.

No worries if this is new to you, peerTransfer is happy to be answering some of the most asked questions by International students, below.

International Student filing Taxes in the US

Who needs to file taxes? International students temporarily living in the US under an F, J, M or Q visa.  Have questions about your visa?

What forms do I need to complete and should I file taxes as an international student even if I did not work?  Yes and No. If you did not work and did not get paid, you do not need to file federal tax 1040 NR form however, you may still have to file a US tax form 8843 if you lived in the US for any part of 2012.

Which form do I need to complete if I earned money? If you earned money during the year, on or off campus, every January you will receive a W-2 form (a statement of your earnings and taxes withheld), and you will then have to complete the appropriate tax form (e.g. 1040NR).

Do I have to file taxes on scholarships or fellowships? “If you receive a scholarship or fellowship grant, all or part of the amounts you receive may be tax-free. If any part of your scholarship or fellowship grant is taxable, you may have to make estimated tax payments. more information refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.” Read more on the IRS site for scholarships and fellowships here. A tax service specializing in helping international students such as Sprintax can help students navigate through some of the intricacies of these forms.

What do I need to do if I received a room or board scholarship? Those are considered taxable income, so a 1042S form will be issued.  Make sure to wait until you have received this form before filing your taxes

When is the deadline? You have to submit your IRS tax forms by midnight April 15, 2013.

How do I file my taxes? Download Form 8843 from the IRS site here. Read the instructions on pages 3 & 4 prior to filling out the form. Complete pages 1 & 2, and take it to the post office. If you have any problems, check in with your International Programs office. They are usually ready to help!

Where do I send it do? If you do not have to complete a 2012 US tax return (e.g. 1040NR), mail your Form 8843 to The Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215.

International Student Taxes

Can I file my taxes online?  Yes. To help students with their tax filings, you can check out services like Sprintax, a company that specializes in helping international students in the U.S. on F, J, M and Q visas, submit the proper forms to the IRS.  They help you figure out what treaties apply to your specific case and do it all automatically for you, at a much better price than by going to an accountant.

For more detailed information on taxes for International Students please visit IRS.

If you have some tips on filing your taxes, or have further questions, please let us know in the comments below!

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