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International Student Services

Filing Taxes as a Non-Resident

How to File Taxes (No Income)

This is for F-1 students who did not work during 2012 and did not receive a W-2 from the IRS. You are required to fill out the 8843 Form. This form can be downloaded electronically or you can come in the office and we will help you file it.

How to File Taxes (Income)

International Office has purchased a license agreement for GLACIER Tax Prep to assist you in preparing your non-resident U.S. tax return. Please follow the steps below:

Q & A

  • Who needs to file an income tax return?- If you are visiting the U.S. from another country on an F, J, M or Q visa and are classified as a nonresident for U.S. tax purposes, you are required to file an income tax return each year that you have U.S.-source income. If you did not earn any income, you must file IRS Form 8843. Form 8843 must also be filed for every family member who is in the U.S. on an F-2 or J-2 visa.
  • I arrived in the U.S. in December of 2012 and I didn’t work. Do I still have to file IRS Form 8843?- Yes. If you were in the U.S. only for one day in 2006, you must file IRS Form 8843. If any family members are here with you, they must also file Form 8843.
  • What is the difference between Form 1040NR and Form 1040NR-EZ? Which form should I use? Will using the longer form save me some money?- It is always advisable to use the simplest form that will accommodate all of your income and deductions. The instructions to the forms explain who can file the form. Using the longer form will only save you money if you have items to list on it that you could not list on the shorter form (e.g. gifts to U.S. charities)
  • What happens if I fail to file an income tax return?- If you owe taxes and don’t file an income tax return, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can charge you penalty and interest on any tax owed. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt. If you are eligible for a tax refund and do not file an income tax return, you will not receive a refund. There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file an income tax return. For example, applicants for permanent residency (“green card”) are frequently asked to provide proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.
  • I've been in the U.S. as an F-1 student for more than five years. What forms should I fill out?- If you have been in the U.S. as an F-1 student for more than five years, you must begin counting days present in the U.S. to see if you pass the Substantial Presence Test. This test can be found in IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. It is also explained in Question #11 below. You may ask for permission from the IRS Field Assistance Area Director to continue to be an exempt individual. Otherwise, you will be considered a resident for tax purposes and must file IRS Form 1040 (1040-EZ or 1040-A) (resident income tax returns).
  • I only worked for a very short time in 2012 and didn’t earn very much money. Do I still have to file an income tax return? Yes. If you have any U.S.-source income, including taxable scholarship/fellowship grants, you must file IRS Form 1040NR-EZ (or 1040NR) and IRS Form 8843.
  • Should I keep copies of my income tax return and other tax forms?- Yes. Always keep copies of your income tax return, Forms W-2, Forms 1042-S, Forms 1099-INT bank interest statements and any other pertinent forms as proof that you have filed your income tax return. The IRS can audit individual returns for up to 3 years following the filing deadline and your tax records are essential in proving your case.
  • I am leaving the U.S. before I can file my taxes. What should I do?- If you are leaving the U.S. before filing your taxes, be sure the US Payroll Office has your foreign address so that your IRS Form W-2 and/or IRS Form 1042-S can be mailed to you.
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