U.S. Tax Information & Instructions
All international students and scholars are required to report U.S. income and physical presence each Spring to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the previous tax year (Jan. 1, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2016). If you were in the US even 1 day in 2016, you have at least 1 tax form to complete, regardless of income. If you had income in 2016, then you must file a complete tax return in order to obtain a tax refund.
FREE access codes to Sprintax software are provided to prepare all required federal IRS forms based on your country’s specific tax treaty with the US. Follow the instructions below to request your code.
DEADLINE TO FILE: TUESDAY, APRIL 18TH, 2017
- All forms must be post-marked by midnight (11:59pm / 23:59h) to avoid additional penalties.
- Commonly advertised tax prep products such as TurboTax, H&R Block, Tax Act, were not designed for non-resident aliens, unless you are a “Resident for Tax Purposes.” (see below). Using them will cause errors, delays and possibly additional tax penalties. Instead, use the free code that ISSS provides for Sprintax. (see below)
- Avoid Tax Fraud & Scams. Please, watch this short (1:30m) video from the IRS on important reminders about common tax scams that target international students who may not recognize scams.
What if I graduated in 2016 and departed the US already?
You should still file proper 2016 tax documents if you were a non-resident for tax purposes, even if you have departed the US. This will help you avoid problems with future visa applications.
Why should I file a US tax form if I’m not American?
- If the IRS owes you money (a tax refund), you must file a tax return to get the refund. Refunds are not provided automatically.
- If you owe the IRS money, you must file a tax return to find out how much.
- Missing the April 18th deadline you may incur IRS late fees.
- Following US tax law is a requirement of your visa. Failure to pay the proper tax amount on U.S. income will lead to tax penalties. In addition, iIf you apply for a future visa status or Permanent Residency in the US, you'll be asked to provide copies of all tax forms and tax returns for every year you were present in the US. If you failed to file them, your application will be delayed or possibly rejected.
What if I received the Campus Atlanta Scholarship?
Tuition waivers, such as the Campus Atlanta Scholarship, are non-taxable; they are considered tuition-only scholarships. You should still complete form 8843 if you had no other income or taxable scholarships.
Am I a Resident for Tax Purposes?
A resident for tax purposes may use regular domestic tax prep software. A resident for tax purposes is an individual who is:
- A U.S. Citizen or foreign national with a "Green Card".
- An F & J student who has been in the U.S during any part of 5 calendar years or more.
- J Research Scholars are generally residents for tax purposes after 2 years in the U.S.
- H-1, TN, and O-1 visa holders are considered residents for tax purposes if they meet the "substantial presence" test.
Tip: Sprintax will determine if you are a Resident for tax purposes. If yes, seek the advice of a professional tax advisor since you are not eligible to use Sprintax.
What is Sprintax?
- Sprintax is special tax prep software designed specifically for international students and other non-residents.
- Sprintax offers 24/7 live tax assistance by phone and chat.
- Sprintax information is multi-lingual.
- Sprintax can also complete State of Georgia Income Tax Forms for an additional fee.
- Sprintax allows you to save your tax return to continue later.
What if I receive a refund check outside the US?
- ISSS advises you to keep your US bank account open through the tax season after you go home. That way, you can deposit your check (by mail) then close your account online and wire the balance back to yourself.
- Another option is to coordinate with a friend in the US from your country who may be able to facilitate the deposit for you.
What if I need to file tax forms for previous years?
- Spintax offers options to complete tax forms and returns for previous years. The cost would be up to you. The code ISSS issues each year is only valid for the current tax season.
What does Form 8843 look like?
Form 8843 is titled, "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition" - This may sound confusing but the form has many uses. It must be completed by all F and J visa holders, regardless of whether or not U.S. income was earned. Its purpose is to record your physical presence in the US for tax purposes. You are welcome to use the free Sprintax code via iStart even if you ONLY need 8843. However, you may also simply download and print form 8843 yourself if you prefer not to use Sprintax. Mail form 8843 to the same address indicated in the “FREE SPRINTAX CODE” section below.
FREE SPRINTAX CODE: Instructions to receive code and file tax forms
1. Plan Time & Gather Your Documents:
Once you have all the documents together below, plan about 30-45 minutes to use Sprintax.
- Passport with F1, J1, or other relevant non-immigrant Visa
- Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Dates of all U.S. arrivals and departures in the past.
- W-2 forms (if you have income): wage statement from your employer(s). Contact your HR department if you haven’t received your W-2(s) by January 31st each year.
- 1042-S (if you worked fro GSU or received a taxable scholarship from GSU): This is mailed to you from GSU's tax compliance office by the end of February if your country has a tax treaty with the U.S. If you worked for GSU and haven't received these forms by February 28th, contact: Ivan Ivanov, GSU Tax Accountant, Sparks Hall, Suite 400A / firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SSN or ITIN
- SSN (Social Security Number): required if you had income from a U.S. job. Details >> here. or
- ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) - required only if you don't qualify for a SSN but still need to file a complete tax return (example: a scholarship for food and lodging is not employment but is taxable.) The ITIN application is complex and time consuming. For information and detailed steps, click >> here.
2. Log-in to iStart to Request Free Code
- Click the "US Tax Form Helper" e-form under the Taxes tab.
- Answer the questions carefully and submit the form. You will immediately receive a unique link with the free access code via email.
3. Log-in to Sprintax
- Use the free code to register and complete your tax return documents, including form 8843.
4. File your US Federal Return
- Print, sign and mail a copy of your federal forms to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), whether you owe taxes or expect a refund. The IRS tax filing deadline is: 4/18/2017. Buy proper postage to affix to the envelope and address your envelope like this:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
5. State Return (if applicable)
- Use your Federal Return to complete your State of Georgia Income Tax Return on "form 500". You are responsible for the additional Sprintax fee to file a state income tax return.
- Mail a copy of your forms to the Georgia Department of Revenue by the same deadline.
- Address your envelope like this depending on whether you owe state taxes or not:
If Georgia owes you a refund:
Georgia Dept. of Revenue
PO Box 740380
Atlanta, GA 30374-0380
If you owe Georgia taxes:
Georgia Dept. of Revenue
PO Box 740399
Atlanta, GA 30374-0399
- ISSS cannot provide tax advice or personal assistance with US tax forms.
- Always keep a complete copy of your U.S. tax returns and form 8843.