Filing Taxes as an International Student

Taxes in the United States can be confusing. However, we are here to direct you to appropriate resources and assist by hosting Tax Workshops for international students (yes, even international students need to file taxes, regarding of whether you have worked or not)! 

Please see below for more information regarding taxes in the US.

  • Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the US on F or J status anytime between 1 January – 31 December 2020, you're obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities).

    Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

  • 15 April 2021 is the last day for residents and nonresidents who earned US income to file Federal tax returns for the 2020 tax year.
  • Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M, or Q visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. International students on J-1 & F-1 visas are automatically considered nonresident for their first five calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the five or two-year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.
  • We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the US. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

    After you log in to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities.

    However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.

    1)      Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax:                                       

    ✔ Passport

    ✔ Visa/Immigration information, including form I-20 (F status) or form DS-2019 (J status)

    ✔ Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if you have one)

    ✔ W-2 (It is issued by the end of January for the previous year. Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date address for you)

    ✔ 1042-S (This form is used to report: (1) stipend, scholarship, fellowship income, and travel grants (not tuition reduction or exemption), (2) income covered by a tax treaty, or (3) payment for other types of services (eg by the semester as a note-taker)

    ✔ US entry and exit dates for current and past visits to the US

    ✔* 1099 (This form reports miscellaneous income. Can be interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, earning through freelance employment).

     1098-T (This form is NOT needed and can NOT be used for a nonresident tax return because NRAs are not eligible to claim education expense tax credits).


    2)      Create a Sprintax Account:

    You will receive an email from the international student office providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on Sprintax. This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can log in using your existing credentials.


    3)      Follow the Sprintax instructions:

    If you did not earn any US Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).

    If you did earn US Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.


    4)      (With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return:

    After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, you will have the option to use Sprintax for an additional fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.


    5)      Read the instructions for filing/mailing your returns:

    Remember to read the instructions that Sprintax provides.

    You will be required to download, print and sign your federal tax return and mail it to the IRS. If you have a state filing requirement, you must also mail this to the tax authorities.

    Finally, if you only need to file Form 8843, this will also need to be mailed to the IRS.

  • If you need additional assistance using Sprintax and information about the tax filing process, the Global Village has scheduled four tax workshops for your convenience. Please see the list of the documents you will need to have with you to complete your tax return and use as a guide to prepare your tax return.
  • If you need help while using Sprintax, you can contact their support team using the options below

    Email - 

    24/7 Live Chat Help

    Refer to their FAQs


    Sprintax Educational Tax Videos and Blog:

    You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on nonresident taxes. These will provide further clarity on nonresident tax and how to use Sprintax. Sprintax also offers a range of useful content on their blog to help you file your return.


    DISCLAIMER: International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) and the Global Village are NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax-related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer, or a local IRS field office.