The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a U.S. government agency responsible for the collection of taxes and enforcement of tax laws. It is your responsibility to meet tax obligations. All international students present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 non-immigrant status are required to file. Please be aware that ISSS does not offer individual tax assistance.
Tax filing deadlines:
- If you received taxable income in 2020: April 15, 2021
- If you did not receive taxable income in 2020: April 15, 2021
- If you arrived in the U.S. after December 31, 2020, you are not required to file
Tax forms and documents
1040NR-EZ Accordion Closed
- You do not claim any dependents.
- You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s U.S. tax return.
- If you were married, you do not claim an exemption for your spouse.
- Your taxable income is less than $100,000.
- You are not claiming any itemized deductions (other than for state and local income taxes).
- Your only U.S. source income is from wages, salaries, tips, taxable refunds of state and local income taxes, and scholarship or fellowship grants. (If you had taxable interest or dividend income, you must use Form 1040NR instead of 1040NR-EZ.)
- The only adjustments to income you can claim are the exclusion for scholarship and fellowship grants or the student loan interest deduction.
- You are not claiming any credits.
- The only taxes you owe are the income tax from the Tax Table and/or unreported Social Security and Medicare tax from Forms 4137 or 8919.
- You are not claiming a credit for excess Social Security and tier 1 RRTA tax withheld.
- This is not an “expatriation return.” See instructions for Form 1040NR for more information.
- If you do not meet all of the above conditions, you must file Form 1040NR.
- State tax: You (may) need to file form 140NR before April 15, 2021. Please see instruction here.
Form 8843 Accordion Closed
All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition”, even if they received no income during 2020.
Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
- present in the U.S. during 2020
- a nonresident alien
- present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status
If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual’s age. If you are required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR/1040NR-EZ), attach Form 8843 to the back of the tax return. If Form 8843 is for a spouse or dependent eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return, Form 8843 must be attached to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.
Other forms and documents Accordion Closed
It is helpful to start tax filing with all forms and documents needed to complete the process.
- 1042-S: The 1042-S form will be given to nonresident alien students who have received benefits of a tax treaty for employment, scholarship, or fellowship income. You will not receive a copy of the 1042-S form if you only have a tuition waiver on your account and do not receive any checks.
- Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement: W-2 forms are sent either electronically or mailed to current and former employees. This form shows how much you earned last year and how much was taken out for taxes. You will only receive this form if you have been employed in the U.S.
- Form 1099 (if applicable): The 1099 form documents miscellaneous income. For example, if you had CPT authorization to work as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of an organization, you might receive Form 1099 instead of Form W-2 to document your earnings.
Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification number (generally not required if you will file only Form 8843)
- U.S. entry and exit dates for current and past visits to U.S.
- Address information (current U.S. address and foreign address)
- I-20 (F-1 status)
- DS-2019 (J-1 or J-2 status)
- Academic institution or host sponsor information (name, address, phone)
- Scholarship/fellowship grant letter (if any)
- A copy of last year’s federal income tax return, if filed
Resource provided by NAU
To help the international students and scholars meet the tax obligations, Northern Arizona University provides access to Sprintax Tax Filing Software for Non-Residents. NAU pays for software licenses that allow our non-resident students and scholars in F-1 and J-1 status to file federal taxes through a third-party vendor (Sprintax). The software will determine your tax filing obligations and produce the appropriate forms to be mailed to the IRS. At the beginning of every calendar year, information will be sent to international students and scholars on how to access Sprintax from anywhere in the world to file their taxes.
Sprintax webinar registration Accordion Closed
Arizona state taxes
Other than federal tax, you are also subject to Arizona income tax on all income from Arizona sources. If you are in this state for a temporary or transitory purpose or did not live in Arizona but received income from sources within Arizona, you are subject to Arizona tax as well. The deadline to file tax this year is April 15, 2021.
Income from Arizona sources includes:
- Rental income
- Business income
- The sale of Arizona real estate
- Interest and dividends having a taxable or business status in this state
- Any other income from an Arizona source
For more information or a list of available forms, please visit the Arizona Department of Revenue’s website. For individual assistance with filing your Arizona tax return, please contact the Arizona Department of Revenue at 1-800-352-4090. Sprintax assists with Arizona state tax filing at a reduced cost.
Mail it after you complete the form(s)
After you complete the form(s), don’t forget you need to mail the completed form(s) to the IRS and the State of Arizona Department of Revenue. Mailing addresses can be found on the federal and state tax forms as well as in Sprintax after completion of all required steps.
Important concepts you need to know
Taxable income Accordion Closed
There are taxable income and non-taxable income in the United States. For students and scholars who are considered nonresidents for tax purposes, interest income is not taxable if it comes from a U.S. bank, a U.S. savings and loan institution, a U.S. credit union, or a U.S. insurance company. Generally, income from foreign sources is not taxable. Wages that appear on form W-2 are taxable. Scholarship or fellowship income that requires services (i.e. teaching or service assistant) will be treated as wages (like employment). Scholarships, fellowships, and grants may be partially taxed. For degree-seeking students, portions used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and required equipment are not taxed; portions used for other expenses, like room, board, and travel, are taxable.
Tax Treaties Accordion Closed
The United States has income tax treaties with many foreign countries. Residents of these foreign countries may be taxed at a reduced rate or be exempt from U.S. income tax withholding on specific kinds of U.S.-source income. Treaties vary among countries. If the treaty does not cover a particular kind of income, or if there is no treaty between your country and the U.S., you must pay tax on the income in the same way and at the same rates shown in the instructions for Form 1040NR.
Social Security Number and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Accordion Closed
A Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) usually is used when you are filing a tax return. You can apply for a Social Security Number when you legally get a job in the United States. If you are filing a tax return and are not eligible to apply for a Social Security number, you may obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you earned no U.S.-source income and are only submitting form 8843, you do not need to apply for the Social Security number or ITIN.
Resident for tax purposes Accordion Closed
“Alien” is a legal term for non-citizens of the United States. For tax purposes, there are three types of alien: nonresident, dual-status, and resident. Please be aware that the categories here are for tax purposes only and are not related to immigration status. You can learn what your status is from Substantial Presence Test and Exempt Individual and The Closer Connection Exception to the Substantial Presence Test for Foreign Students. If you have determined, based on the substantial presence test or marriage to a U.S. citizen or resident alien, that you are considered a resident for tax purposes, then you will generally have the same federal income tax requirements as a U.S. citizen. Please note that in this context, the term “resident” applies only to your tax requirements and is not related to your immigration status. See Publication 17: Your Federal Income Tax Guide.