Tax Information for International Students & Scholars

All international students and scholars are expected to complete and file tax forms with the U.S. federal goverment, whether or not they had earned income during the tax year. In addition, F-2 and J-2 dependents must also file certain tax forms. Click here for General Tax Considerations for Students.

If you had any U.S. source income in 2014, the tax filing deadline is Wednesdday, April 15, 2015. If you had no U.S. source income in 2014, you have until Monday, June 15, 2015

Tax workshops are being offered in March 2015.

The intent of this page is to provide basic information to international students and scholars at Stanford University about completing federal and state tax forms. It is directed at those students and scholars who qualify as non-residents for tax purposes. (Please note that the tax definitions of resident and non-resident are different from immigration definitions. There is more detail later in this document about resident and non-resident tax status).

This guide will help answer questions about which forms to use, when to file, and where to mail your completed tax forms. It will also provide information about GLACIER Tax Prep, an online tax software package that you may choose to use in order to file your federal (not state) tax return.

The purpose of this web page is to provide general information regarding the complex subject of personal U.S. and California income tax responsibilities of non-U.S. citizens. The student or scholar may also be subject to the regulations of other jurisdictions including other states of the U.S. and other nations. The law in this area may vary in its application according to individual circumstances and is subject to change.

Stanford University cannot provide formal tax advice to individuals. Accordingly, no information on this site may be considered formal tax advice. Consult appropriate tax counsel as necessary.


Who must file tax forms?

All international students and scholars are expected to complete and file tax forms with the U.S. federal goverment, whether or not they had earned income during the tax year. In addition, F-2 and J-2 dependents must also file certain tax forms.

Two factors determine which forms you complete for U.S. federal taxes

  • Whether you are resident or non-resident for tax purposes
  • Whether you received U.S. source income in 2014

All international students and scholars need to file state tax forms if their income in 2014 was more than a certain amount. J-2s must also file if appropriate.

If you arrived in the US after December 31 2014, you do not have to file any tax forms for 2014.


Step 1. Am I a Resident or Non-Resident for Tax Purposes?

Although most international students and scholars are non-resident for tax purposes it is important to confirm your tax status in order to know which forms to complete. Your status as a resident or non-resident for tax purposes is different from your immigration status. It is calculated based on how many days you have been in the U.S. during the previous few years, and determines which tax forms you need to file.

For students on F or J visa (including Visiting Researchers)
If, in 2014, you were physically present in the U.S. for fewer than 5 calendar years as a student (i.e. you arrived on 1/1/2010, or after), you are probably a non-resident for tax purposes. (Note: You must count a calendar year even if you were not present in the U.S. for the entire year.)

For scholars on J visa
If, in 2014, you were physically present in the U.S. for fewer than 2 calendar years as a scholar (if you first arrived on or after 1/1/2013), you are probably a non-resident for tax purposes. (Note: You must count a calendar year even if you were not present in the U.S. for the entire year.)

For scholars on H visa
If you are on an H-1 temporary worker visa and were physically present in the US for more than 183 days in 2014, you are probably a resident for tax purposes.

To determine whether you are resident or non-resident for tax purposes, use the Substantial Presence Test found on the IRS web site.

More information on determining your status for tax purposes can also be found at these sites below:

If You Are a Resident for Tax Purposes

If you determine that you are a resident for tax purposes you will need to compete the same tax forms as US citizens. The information on this page does not apply to those who are considered residents for tax purposes.  You can either prepare your own tax return or hire a qualified professional tax preparer. Check the phone directory under the general heading “Tax Return Preparation,” “Accountant, “or similar.  You could also purchase a commercial tax software program from an office supply retailer, at certain department stores, and over the internet.

Forms:

  • you will file Form 1040, 1040EZ, or 1040A
  • you are not required to file Form 8843
  • you must declare your worldwide income, not just your U.S. earned income
  • your bank interest is considered taxable income
  • Social Security taxes (FICA including Medicare) should be withheld from your wages, unless you are a registered, degree-seeking graduate or undergraduate student. 

If you choose to prepare your own tax return the following options are available:


Step 2. Did I Receive U.S. Source Income in 2014?

If you are a non-resident for tax purposes, then the next step is to determine whether you received U.S. source income during 2014. This will determine which forms to submit.

What is U.S. source income?

A detailed summary of what is considered U.S. source income for the purpose of tax returns can be found at:
http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Nonresident-Aliens---Source-of-Income

After you have determined your tax residence status and whether or not you have U.S. source income, you may now determine:

 

  • Step 3: which tax forms you will need to complete and

  • Step 4: which documents you will need to complete your tax forms

Top of page

 

Step 3. What tax forms do I have to file?

 

If you had US source income in 2014:

  • Form 1040NR or Form 1040 NR-EZ - see link below to download forms and instructions
  • Form 8843 - see the Form 8843 section below for more information

Information on whether you need to file California state taxes is available at http://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/fileRtn/index.shtml

If you have no U.S. source income:

  • Form 8843 - see the Form 8843 section below for more information

Information on whether you need to file California state taxes is available at http://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/fileRtn/index.shtml

Form 8843

Please note that all individuals who have non-resident status for tax purposes must file Form 8843. Filing this form helps maintain non-resident status for tax purposes. You do not need to have either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to submit Form 8843.

Individuals who must file Form 8843 include:

  • All international students, and scholars who are non-resident for tax purposes, regardless of whether they had any earned income or how many days they were in the U.S. during 2014
  • All F-2 and J-2 visa holders, regardless of age.  Each Form 8843 must be mailed in a separate envelope

If you do not have a Social Security Number or ITIN

A Social Security Number (SSN) or ITIN is required when filing your Form 1040NR or Form 1040 NR EZ.  Your tax form will be returned to you by the IRS if you file without listing one of these numbers.  If you do not have a SSN or ITIN at the time you file your taxes, you may apply for an ITIN in conjunction with filing your tax return.

ITIN application instructions are available here

All IRS forms and instructions (e.g. 1040NR, 1040 NR-EZ, 8843) can be found and downloaded here

 

Information on tax forms is also available here arrow

 

 

 

Top of page

 


Step 4. What documents do I need to file my taxes?

 

If you received wages from Stanford for an RA/TA, hourly job, salaried position, etc:

If you received wages from non-Stanford employment, you should receive a W-2 from that employer. Contact the employer directly if you do not receive this form.

 

If you received a non-qualified scholarship/fellowship* from Stanford:

*A scholarship/fellowship is considered to be non-qualified if it was used for expenses other than tuition and mandatory fees at the University. Any amount that exceeds tuition and mandatory fees is taxable. You may be exempt from being taxed if your home country has a tax treaty with the U.S.

Any amount that exceeds the amount of your tuition and mandatory fees at the University is considered taxable income and is reported on a Form W-2.

Form 1099

Regardless of your status as a resident or non-resident for tax purposes, you should receive a Form 1099 from your bank noting the amount of interest you earned in 2014. Please keep this for your records.

More information on tax considerations for those receiving fellowships and assistantships, including tax treaty information is available here.arrow

 

Top of page

 


Step 5. Can Bechtel help me to file my taxes?

 

Staff at Bechtel International Center cannot provide tax advice.  Please remember that the accuracy of your tax returns is your personal responsibility.

However, each year Bechtel International Center, in cooperation with the Controller’s Office, purchases an online tax software package called GLACIER Tax Prep Software, and makes it available free of charge to all international students and scholars in F or J status at Stanford University.  GLACIER Tax Prep allows you to determine your resident status for tax purposes as well as prepare your federal income tax return from any computer connected to the internet. GLACIER is an online system; however, it does not file the tax return electronically (the IRS does not currently allow Forms 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ to be filed electronically.) The individual must print, sign, and mail the tax returns/forms generated by GLACIER Tax Prep. For the 2013 tax year, GLACIER Tax Prep was used by over 2000 users at Stanford. 

Stanford provides GLACIER Tax Prep as a tool for your convenience, but cannot accept any responsibility for the accuracy of your tax return. You should know that you are not obliged to use GLACIER Tax Prep, and that you can also complete the tax forms on your own or use the services of a professional tax firm. 

Please note that:

  • GLACIER Tax Prep is only used for completing and filing federal tax forms for those considered non-residents for tax purposes. 
  • GLACIER Tax Prep only provides guidance on federal tax forms, not California State tax forms. Information on whether you need to file California state taxes is available at http://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/fileRtn/index.shtml.
  • Individuals who are considered residents for tax purposes need to file the same forms as American citizens. 
  • The Bechtel International Center is not trained to provide tax advice and therefore disclaims all liability from the misinterpretation or misuse of GLACIER Tax Prep. We are offering this tax software as a convenience to our international students and scholars.
  • The I-Center page linking to GLACIER Tax Prep is here.

Regardless of how you choose to complete your tax forms, you should keep all copies of your tax returns in a safe place.  You may need them when applying for future immigration benefits.

 

Top of page

 

 


Step 6. Where do I mail my tax forms?

 

Mailing Address for Federal Tax Forms 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ and Form 8843

All non-resident federal tax forms must be mailed to:

Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

If enclosing a payment mail the form to:

Internal Revenue Service Center
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303

 

Mailing Address for California State Tax Form 540

If your tax return shows a refund or no amount due, mail your forms to:
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942840
Sacramento CA 94240-0001
If you are enclosing a check or money order, mail your forms to:

Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942867
Sacramento CA 94267-0001

 

Top of page

 


When are the tax filing deadlines?

 

Deadlines for submission of Federal and State Tax forms for year 2014 (January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014)

If you had U.S. source income (bank interest is not considered U.S. source income):
Federal Tax Forms:   April 15, 2015
State Tax Forms:    April 15, 2015
If you had no U.S. source income:

Form 8843             June 15, 2015

 

Top of page

 


Other considerations

Tax Treaties

Many students and scholars come from countries that have tax treaties with the U.S. This means that you may be able to earn a certain amount of money in the U.S. without having to pay federal tax if your country has a tax treaty with the U.S. This link to Publication 901 will provide you with information on any tax treaty your country may have with the U.S. 

Information is also available here:

GLACIER also guides you through this process for federal taxes.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes

  • Students and scholars who are not considered tax residents for tax purposes are exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. (This exemption does not apply to J-2s with work authorization). Information is also available here.
  • If you are a  non-resident for tax purposes and your employer has withheld Social Security and Medicare taxes, you can claim these taxes back from the employer or through filing IRS Form 843 and 8316. If your employer is Stanford, you must contact Payroll to claim these taxes. More information is available here.

Top of page

 

 


Additional tax resources

 

Top of page

© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints | Report web accessibility issue