Tax Information & Instructions
All international students and scholars are required to report U.S. income and physical presence each year to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Spring 2016 is the time to report this information for tax year 2015 (January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015).
- Do not use commonly advertised tax prep products such as TurboTax, H&R Block, Tax Act, or any others – unless you are a “Resident for Tax Purposes.” (see below)
- Using those will cause errors, delays and possibly additional tax penalties since they were not designed for Non-Resident (NR) tax forms.
- Instead, use the free code that ISSS provides for Sprintax. (see below)
Avoid Tax Fraud & Scams
- US Tax season is also “scam season.” Unfortunately, International students, are targeted since they are at risk of not recognizing tax scams.
- Please, watch this short (1:30m) video from the IRS.
- MONDAY, APRIL 18TH, 2016: File all forms by midnight to avoid additional tax penalties.
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.
1. Gather Your Documents:
* required for everyone, regardless of income.
- *Passport with F1 or J1 Visa
- *Form I-20 or DS-2019
- *Dates of all U.S. arrivals and departures in the past.
- SSN (Social Security Number) - required only if you had regular income from a job or paycheck. To apply, review the information >> here.
- W-2 forms: wage statement from your employer(s). Contact your HR department if you haven’t received your W-2(s) by January 31st each year.
- ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) - required only if you don't qualify for a SSN but still need to file a tax return. For example, a scholarship for food and lodging is taxable. To apply, see below.
- Print and fill out this form Tax Letter Request Form
- Print and fill out form W-7 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf
- Drop off the completed forms at the ISSS front desk with copies of your I-20, I-94, Visa, and the biographical page (photo + info) of your passport.
- Processing time is 5 business days.
- 1042-S and/or 1099 (if applicable): This comes 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.
2. Log-in to iStart
- If you are unfamiliar with iStart, please click >> here.
- Click the "US Tax Form Helper" e-form under the Taxes tab.
- Read and answer the questions carefully. Then, submit the form.
- You will receive the free access code within 48 hours via GSU email to use Sprintax if needed.
3. Log-in to Sprintax
- You will receive a unique link and free access to use Sprintax when you complete step #2 above.
- Complete your tax return, which includes form 8843.
- Mail a copy of your federal forms to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) by the deadline above. Address your envelope like this:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
- Use your Federal Return to complete your State of Georgia Tax Return (if applicable) for an additional fee.
- Mail a copy of your forms to the Georgia Department of Revenue by the deadline above. Address your envelope like this depending on whether you owe state taxes or not:
If Georgia owes you a refund on form 500:
Georgia Dept. of Revenue
PO Box 740380
Atlanta, GA 30374-0380
If you owe Georgia taxes on form 500:
Georgia Dept. of Revenue
PO Box 740399
Atlanta, GA 30374-0399
What if I don’t file any tax forms?
- If the US Government owes you a refund, but you don't file a tax return, you will not a refund.
- If you owe the US Government additional taxes, but you don't file tax return or pay your tax bill, you will owe penalties.
- If 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 do so, your process will be delayed or negatively affected.
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 the option to complete tax forms and returns for previous years. The cost for this would be up to you.
- The code ISSS issues each year will only work for the most recent tax year.
- ISSS cannot provide tax advice or personal assistance with US tax forms.
- Always keep a complete copy of your U.S. tax returns and forms 8843.