Tax Information for International Students

The Office of Global Initiatives offers the following information about filing taxes in the US. The staff of OGI are not tax experts and cannot address any personal tax questions. However, we have purchased a tax filing system made especially for international students, to make your tax filing easy.

 

A word of advice:

Most international students are not eligible use tax preparation software such as TurboTax or H&R Block. These programs are designed for US residents and calculate taxes at a different rate than international students must use. They also do not generate the required 8843 form. If you are an international student who is a nonresident for tax purposes (see below), beware of filing your taxes as a US resident would. Tax preparation software might calculate a higher refund than you are actually owed. This can result in:

  • an audit by the IRS
  • high penalties and back interest payments, including money seized by the government from your bank account
  • a denial of future visa or permanent residency applications

Do not accept money from the government that is not yours.

 

Do I need to file taxes?

If you were in the US at any time in 2016, even if you didn't earn any income, you are responsible for completing certain tax forms.

If you had no income in 2016, complete and submit the 8843 form to the IRS. Complete the top portion and part III, print it, sign it on page 2, and mail it to the address in the instructions on page 3.

If you earned income in 2016, in most cases, you must submit federal and state income tax forms to the government, in addition to the 8843 form. The Office of Global Initiatives has purchased a program called Sprintax that guides F and J visa-holders through their tax filing. Access Sprintax through the email you received. As long as you are a nonresident for tax purposes (see below), Sprintax will complete your federal tax forms free of charge, and will complete your state tax forms for a fee. After using Sprintax, you must print, sign, and mail your tax forms to the address given in the Sprintax instructions.

If you arrived in the US in January 2017, you don't need to do anything regarding taxes this year but next year you will.

How are my taxes calculated?

“Nonresident” vs “Resident” for Tax Purposes

With regard to federal taxes, most international students with F or J visas are “nonresidents for tax purposes.” This means they are subject to different criteria than U.S. citizens or permanent residents when paying taxes in the U.S.

If you have been physically present in the U.S. for an extended period of time (approximately 5 years for F-1 students and 2 years for J-1 students), you are considered a “resident for tax purposes,” even though you are a nonimmigrant for immigration purposes. By using Sprintax, you will determine whether you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes and will be guided on what forms to file.

Being considered a resident for tax purposes affects only how you file your taxes and how you will be taxed—it does not affect your immigration status or the tuition that you pay at NJIT.

With regard to state taxes, NJ does not differentiate between residents and nonresidents for tax purposes. Everyone files the same tax forms.

Every state has its own tax rules. If you live or work in a state other than NJ, you might be responsible for filing that state’s forms as well.

If you meet the substantial presence test you are not eligible to use Sprintax and need to file the same tax forms as US citizens do (federal and state). Sprintax will direct you to the correct forms.

Why do some people receive refunds, some come out even, and other people owe money during tax season?

When you began your employment, you filled out some documents that help your employer know how much in taxes to withhold from each paycheck. Ideally, your employer will calculate the amount exactly right, so that at the end of the year, you neither owe, nor are owed, any money. If your employer miscalculates, you either have been paying more than you need to each paycheck, and so get that amount back after filing your taxes, or you have been paying less than you need to each paycheck, in which case, you owe the government money. In all of these cases, in the end, you earn exactly the right amount of money and pay the correct amount of taxes.

Find more information at: https://www5.njit.edu/finance/international-tax-information/​ 


What tax-related forms will I need?

Form W-2 or "Wage and Tax Statement"

This form reports how much income you received from wages and salary from your employer. It also states how much has already been withheld from your income for taxes. Anyone who works on campus will receive this form.
 

Form 1042-S

This form is used by the university to report to the IRS:

  1. Salaries and wages that are exempt from Federal income tax due to a treaty between the employee's country of residence and the United States
  2. Scholarship or fellowship income that is taxable or exempt from Federal income tax under an income tax treaty

Scholarship or fellowship grants that are used to pay certain expenses such as tuition, registration and other mandatory fees are not taxable, and not reportable on Form 1042-S. 

Form 1098-T

This form is used to indicate qualified educational expenses that residents for tax purposes can use to file for education tax benefits. If you are a nonresident for tax purposes, you are not eligible for education tax benefits and should not submit this form for tax filing. You may have received this form because NJIT cannot necessarily determine who is a resident or nonresident alien for tax purposes. You can find information about NJIT’s 1098-T policy on the Bursar’s website.

 

 A note on the IRS and scams:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. government agency responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing tax laws. The IRS will never contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail.

The IRS will never threaten to deport you or tax you on money that originated outside the U.S. If your family sent you money to pay for your tuition and expenses, you do not have to pay taxes on it.

 

HOW TO FILE YOUR TAXES:

As an international student in the U.S., it’s important that you understand the tax requirements of your visa. You’re legally required to file a tax return if you worked in the U.S. or received a stipend, grant or allowance (over a certain amount).

Even if you didn’t work or receive income in the U.S., you’re still legally obliged to file a Form 8843 with the IRS.

New Jersey Institute of Technology has arranged free access to Sprintax Tax Preparation. Sprintax will guide you through the tax preparation process, prepare the necessary documents and even check if you are due a refund. 

All you need to do is:

  1. Register and follow the simple instructions
  2. Complete the online questionnaire
  3. Enter the code that was sent to you by email in the box on the ‘Review your order’ page
  4. Sprintax will prepare your tax return and even check if you are due a refund.

As a reminder, you have to print, sign and mail your documents once you complete the preparation process in the Sprintax software. International students are not allowed to e-file their taxes. 

If you have any questions, please email Sprintax at hello@sprintax.com.