Filing Taxes As An International Student


Photo by The New York Public Library on UnsplashAre you an international student in the united states and wonder whether or not you need to file taxes?, well here is some information for you. I want to start by saying this information is out of experience and this should encourage you to do more research on your own, ask questions especially through the international student office at your school. This what i have learned in my 3 years of living here.

Who actually should file taxes in the united states. Its very important to know whether or not you need to file taxes in the US. one way to know whether or not you need to file taxes is by checking the IRS website. This is because they always have the right and updated information. If for some reason you don't want to check the website which again you should, definitely ask the international student office at your school. Listen they are there to help you its better to know and file your taxes than to owe the IRS money.

According to the IRS website filling is required for "non resident alien students and scholars" that have

  1. A taxable scholarship, fellowship 
  2. Income that is partially or totally exempt from tax
  3. Any other income that is taxable under the Internal Revenue Code
They also go ahead to say that filing is not required from "non resident alien students and scholars" who have income only from
  1. Foreign sources
  2. Interest income
  3. Investment that generates portfolio interest
  4. A tax free scholarship or entity
  5. Any other non taxable income
Again for more information be sure to check on the website which i will link in this post. Now once you find out that you have to file your taxes you have to make sure you have the right documents. As international students that work on campus make sure you have your W-2 form and also make sure to find out whether or not you also have to file state tax because in my state you have to file that differently so make sure you find out.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on UnsplashAnother big difference when you are an international student is that you don't fill the regular 1040 we fill the Form 1040NR-EZ if you have a job and also a Form 8843. You also cannot use turbo tax to file your taxes, I know its tempting to do so i will strongly advise you not to as many international students are advised not to do so. One advise I have for international students is to know how to file your own tax. Take a class online or something, now I will admit am a little biased and i know how to file my personal tax. If you need help and you cannot understand all the instructions and you don't want to pay a CPA, make sure you ask the international student office at your school. I don't know about other schools but in my school there are sessions that are held and help is given to us, try and ask to see if that type of help is available for you. 

You could also use Sprintax. This is a nonresident federal and state tax return. It is basically like turbo tax (it is actually a tax partner of turbo tax) but there is a fee. It costs $37.95 for federal tax and $29.95 for state tax. For the state tax you could go to their offices and ask for help because in my city they help international student file state tax for free. Again make sure you are asking questions. Be sure to ask Accounting professors if you have a good relationship with them because chances are most of them are CPA's.

A word of advise make sure that if you know how to file your own tax that you are careful when helping others because it literally can turn and bite you in the butt. If you owe money to the IRS by any chance make sure you file your taxes and try to look in to the payment plans they have that suit you because if you don't there are so many penalty fees you could end up paying. FILE YOUR TAX BY APRIL 15 preferably before.

This is it for this post, I really hope this is helpful to you. Let me know in the comments.

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