Tax Forms for 2018 are due April 15, 2019
All international students in the United States in 2018 are required to file income tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) even if they did not receive any taxable income.
- If a nonresident student has any amount of taxable income from United States sources, a tax return on form 1040-NR (PDF) or form 1040-NR-EZ (PDF) must be filed. Note that this is a big change from 2017, when a return was not required if a nonresident student’s only U.S. income was from wages unless the student’s wages from working in the U.S. exceeded $4,050. For 2018, any amount of wage income from working in the U.S. will require a return to be filed. Also note that, as of this January 28, 2019, the IRS had not yet published the instructions for Form 1040-NR for 2018. Check the front page of the instructions to be sure you have the correct one. The Forms 1040-NR and 1040-NR-EZ and the instructions for the Form 1040-NR-EZ are for 2018.
- A form 8843 (PDF) must be filed with the student’s tax return or, if no return is required, by itself in order to claim nonresident status.
A quick guide to United States tax laws as they apply to foreign students can be found at Publication 4011, Foreign Student and Scholar Volunteer Resource Guide (PDF). More detailed guidance can be found at Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens (PDF). Note that, as of this January 28, 2019, the IRS had not yet published Publication 519 for 2018 returns, and this link opens the 2017 publication, which has obsolete material. Once the 2018 publication is available, this link will open it. Check the front page of the publication to be sure it is the correct one for 2018.
The Office of International Student Services has purchased a limited number of access codes for UIS international students to use Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) to complete, sign, and mail their required federal tax forms. Current UIS F-1 students have first priority in receiving an access code, followed by students who graduated in December and are on OPT.
Access codes can be requested through the GTP access code request from. Brief GTP instructions for international students with or without US income are also available by emailing Erika Suzuki at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note the following:
- ISS does not provide tax advice. Limited tax software is provided as a helpful service to the students, but ISS is not qualified to answer any tax-related questions.
- Income tax reporting and payments are the obligation of each individual student.
- Tax-related questions can be addressed to GTP’s free Support Center or to any other tax service with expertise in international student tax issues and tax treaties.
- International tax forms, when completed and typed online, must be printed, signed and mailed to the appropriate IRS office.
- 2018 tax forms are due on April 15, 2019.
- Sharing access codes with any other person is strictly prohibited.
- A student can be provided only one access code
Q: What is the basic background of US taxes? I just don’t understand it.
A: When students get a pay check from a campus job, or GA/GPSI (or get a scholarship or tuition waiver in exchange for performing services for a college or earn interest on an account at a local bank), you may owe income tax to the US government and to one or more states.
For example, if a student is supposed to make $300 in a month, his or her paycheck is always a little bit less than that (like maybe $250) because an estimated amount of tax has been “withheld” from it. Students need to fill out and mail in tax forms to the IRS (or file the forms electronically) for any year in which they received taxable income by April 15 of the following year. (For 2016, the due date is April 18 because April 15 is a Saturday, so the return is due on the next business day, and April 17 is a holiday in Washington D.C. and several states).
If more tax was withheld than the student owes, he or she will receive a refund. If more tax is owed, it must be paid when the return is due. When filling out tax forms, students will include information on how much money they made, how much money was already taken out in “tax withholding” from their paychecks, how long they’ve been in the US, and what country they are from.
After completing the federal tax forms using GTP, students will be directed to complete a similar tax form for their state. Not all states have an income tax, and the tax laws for the states that do are considerably different, but the general rule is that any state return you must file is due on the same date as the US return.
Q: What will Glacier Tax Prep help me with?
A: GTP will help you…
- determine which tax forms you need to complete
- determine your “residency for tax purposes”
- determine if are eligible for tax treaty benefits or a standard deduction
- assist with completion of the 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR form
- prepare a completed federal tax form for you to print, sign, and mail in and what documents to attach to it.
Q: How do I get started?
A: After you receive your instructions and access code and have gathered the required documents (see next question below), go to Glacier Tax Prep, hit the “create a new account” button, and type in your access code. You will then be asked to create your own personal, private login. Then login and begin answering the questions that are posed to you.
Q: What documents do I need in order to use Glacier Tax Prep?
A: You will need the following…
- your GTP access code available from ISS
- GTP instruction sheet given to eligible students
- Social Security Number (SSN) or ITIN if you had any US source income
- US entry and exit dates found stamped in your passport or accessed in the travel history portion of your I-94 record on the CBP website
- foreign and US address
- Tax forms that have been mailed to you or that you have been instructed to download from the University (including, but not limited to W-2, 1042-S, and 1099). Be aware that you may not have any of these, or you may have more than one. For example, the W-2 is used by an employer to report how much salary they paid to an employee during a year, and what taxes were withheld, and a copy of the W-2 is sent to the employee. If you did not work as an employee, you will not receive a W-2. If you worked for 3 different employers, you will receive a W-2 from each of them.
- Academic institution (name, address, phone)
Q: What if I did not make any money last year and did not receive any taxable scholarships?
A: You still have to complete a basic form. In general, students who were inside the US last year but had no income:
- Complete IRS Form 8843 (PDF) -top section, parts 1 and 3 and signature on the back, then mail it to the address listed on the instructions
- All dependents of F-1 students are also required to complete IRS Form 8843.
Students who were inside the US last year and did have income:
- Complete the Form 8843 as above, and also complete the 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR using GTP, print and sign, attach required documents like the W-2. Complete appropriate State of Illinois tax forms, print, sign and attach required documents like the W-2. Mail the federal forms to the address given in the instructions and mail the Illinois form to the state address given in the instructions.
You may also find these resources helpful especially if you decide not to use the GTP tax preparation software.
- All students should fill out and file Form 8843 (PDF), regardless if he or she had any income
- Students with any income will also need to file form 1040NR (PDF) or 1040NR-EZ (PDF).
- Other information for students and scholars can be found on the Internal Revenue Service website.
- Your country may have a tax treaty with the United States that affects your tax obligations. If that is the case, you must attach a Form 8833 (PDF) to your return stating how the treaty affects you.
- You may also have an obligation to file a return with the State of Illinois if you lived or worked in Illinois in the previous calendar year. Here is the IL-1040 (PDF) and the instructions (PDF) for completing it. If you have any questions on filing Illinois state tax forms, you can contact or visit the Illinois Department of Revenue (101 W Jefferson St, Springfield, IL). State tax assistance is available in the department. You may also purchase a service to fill out state tax forms, for instance IL-1040, from Sprintax.
- If you lived and/or worked in more than one US state during the calendar year you may have to file tax returns in all the states in which you lived or worked. You should check the state revenue website of the other state(s) where you lived and worked to figure out your tax filling obligations. You can find information on other states at the Federation of Tax Administrators website.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators has prepared a brochure (PDF) that you may find helpful in understanding more about your obligations to file an income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. It also contains some additional resources.