Tax-Filing Requirements

If you were an international student or scholar who was present in 2020, you must file certain tax forms with the federal government as required by federal law and mandated by your immigration status. This also applies to your dependents on F-2/J-2 visas. It is your responsibility to understand your tax obligations.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this page or presented by the International Center staff is solely for informational purposes and cannot be considered legal tax advice. The International Center cannot review or make recommendations to individual tax questions.

Always make copies of all forms before mailing your documents to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Which Forms Do I Complete?

I did not work, and did not receive a taxable (room and board) scholarship in 2019. What do I do?
You must file the Form 8843

I had an on-campus or off-campus job and received a W2 or 1099?
You must file Form 8843, 1040NR-EZ/1040-NR, and IL 1040 by April 15th, 2021.

I did not work on or off campus, but I received a (room and board) scholarship?
You must file Form 8843, 1040NR-EZ/1040-NR, and IL 1040 by April 15th, 2021.

I worked on or off campus, and I received a (room and board) scholarship?
You must file Form 8843, 1040NR-EZ/1040-NR, and IL 1040 by April 15th, 2021.

Mail the completed form 8843 to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Sprintax Software

The federal tax filing software Sprintax for the 2020 tax season is now available.

Please note that there is now a fee to use the Sprintax Software. You may contact Sprintax through its website.

Always make copies of all forms before mailing your documents to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What documents and information do I need before I login to Sprintax?

  • Passport
  • Immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019)
  • I-94
  • SSN or ITIN (if you have been assigned one)
  • Address information (U.S. and foreign)
  • U.S. entry and exit dates, current and past
  • Academic institution information: Forms W-2, 1042-S*, and/or 1099 (if you received one)*
  • Copy of your previous year’s tax form (if you filed last year)

2021 Sprintax Webinars

The Sprintax team will be hosting a series of free open tax webinars to provide helpful information around nonresident tax filing obligations.

You can find the details and registration links below. Each webinar will cover the topics including:

  • An overview of tax for nonresident students and scholars
  • Who must file a 2020 U.S. tax return
  • What income forms students/scholars may receive
  • Forms that need to be completed and sent to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • We cover terms like FICA, ITIN, and Form 1098-T
  • What happens if students don’t file or misfile
  • State tax returns
  • IRS stimulus payments
  • Sprintax overview
  1. Tuesday, February 2 at noon—Register here
  2. Wednesday, February 10 at 11 a.m.—Register here
  3. Thursday, March 4 at 2 p.m.—Register here
  4. Monday, March 15 at 11 a.m.—Register here
  5. Tuesday, March 30 at 1:30 p.m.—Register here
  6. Wednesday, April 7 at 2 p.m.—Register here
  7. Monday, April 12 at noon—Register here

State Taxes

If you are filing an income tax return (examples include: Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ) and worked in Illinois in 2020, then you must also file the Illinois State form. This form comes with detailed instructions—you may also use Sprintax to prepare your state tax forms for a fee of $29.95. Individual questions can be reviewed by a qualified tax professional who understands federal nonresident taxes.

If you worked in another state during 2020, then you must see if you have to file a state tax return for that state.

Tax Form 8843

Who Must File Form 8843?
All nonresident aliens present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843 : “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition,” even if they received no income during 2020. Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:

  • Present in the U.S. during 2020
  • A nonresident alien
  • Present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status

If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual’s age and even if the individual is not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ).

What is Form 8843?

Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens, including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens.

Do I need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to File Form 8843?

If you already have a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the number must be included on Form 8843, regardless of your age and even if you are not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ).

How do I submit form 8843?

If you have no income and are only filing Form 8843, you must print, sign, and mail it by June 17, 2019, to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
(There is no street address needed)

Each individual who has no income and files only a Form 8843 must send the form in a separate envelope. Do not include more than one Form 8843 per envelope.

Glossary

W-2

This is a form that the employer will send to you before January 31 if you worked on or off campus in 2021. If you worked for more than one employer, you will receive more than one W-2. You should add up your income from all of them. You should receive the W-2 by mid-February 2022. Contact your employer if you did not receive the W-2.

1042-S

If you received a room-and-board scholarship (not tuition) in 2018, you will receive this form the Payroll Office in order to file your federal/state tax returns. You should receive the 1042-S by mid March 2022.

1098-T

This is a general tuition form showing the amount of tuition you paid in 2021. Non-residents aliens cannot deduct education credits on their returns. Therefore, if you receive this form, simply ignore it. You may keep it for your records, but it will not be used to complete your taxes.

1099INT

You will receive this form if you earned interest on your checking/savings accounts in 2021. Generally this interest is not substantial; therefore, you do not need to report on this.

1099-MISC

Instead of receiving form W-2, you may receive this form as a statement of your earnings for 2021. This may occur if you were listed as a contractor or consultant through your company.

Refund for Social Security and Medicare Taxes

General Rule

According to Section 3121(b)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code, an exemption from Social Security and Medicare taxes applies to nonimmigrant students, scholars, teachers, researchers, and trainees who are temporarily present in the U.S. in F, J, M, or Q status, as long as they remain nonresidents for federal income tax purposes, as determined by Section 7701(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. See the International Center tax handout for further explanation and to show your employer.

If Social Security and Medicare taxes were deducted from your paycheck and you are still exempt as a nonresident for federal income tax purposes, you must first try to get a refund from your employer. If your employer is unable to provide a refund, you must file Form 843 Claim for Refund and Form 8316.

Mail the Completed Forms to
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215

You should also include a copy of your:

  • W-2
  • I-94 card
  • Visa
  • I-20 or DS-2019

Please allow three to six months for the processing. You can find a sample of these forms on this website: Sample 843 and Sample 8316. Blank forms can also be found on this website: 843 8316

Identity Theft and Tax Filing Scams

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never contact you via email/fax/phone. If you receive such an email, do not open it as it likely contains some sort of virus or malware. You should never provide you Social Security Number (SSN)/Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to anyone via an email/fax/phone. Additionally, the Sprintax Support Center will never ask you to send your SSN/ITIN via email—and you should never include your SSN/ITIN when sending a support email.

Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due a refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the Where's My Refund link on the IRS website.

Additional Information Regarding IRS Scams

Resources

IRS websites on higher education for students
www.irs.gov/individuals/students/students-page-higher-education

International Taxpayer
www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers

New International Index
www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/international-index-gateway