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Help me with my taxes

All international students inside the United States must file their tax return, if you need helping getting started make sure you get the information you need. Tax Care offers solutions for international students, let us help you walk you through what forms you need to complete when you file, how to file and where to find additional help if you need it.

Frequently Asked Questions

(International Students and Trainees)

The information contained on this page is intended to offer general guidelines to international students regarding federal income tax obligations.

What is a Tax Return?

In the United States, federal income taxes are prepaid by our employer(s) based on the estimate of liability provided by the employee on the Form W-4 (usually completed by the employee at the time of hire). Since the withholding is only an estimate, employees are given a yearly opportunity to reconcile the amount taken out with how much was owed. The name of the form on which the reconciliation is made is called the “Tax Return.” The tax return is filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an agency of the U.S. government. In some cases, filing the tax return results in a refund from the IRS because the withholding was higher than necessary.

However, sometimes a taxpayer does not have enough withheld from payments and must send a payment to the IRS with his or her tax return. Occasionally, the amount taken out matches the amount due, so no money is due by either the taxpayer or the IRS. (This happens most often when a tax treaty exemption has been applied, and there is no liability on the income.)

The deadline for filing the tax return is April 15 of every year for individuals within the United States. Individuals filing a tax return from outside the United States have an automatic extension of time to file until June 18. However, this is NOT an extension of time to pay, so care must be taken to not encourage late filing when tax may be due. Individuals who need to file only the Form 8843 because they had no income are given until June 15 to submit their form.

Should I keep copies of my tax return and other tax forms?

Yes. You should always save a copy of your tax return as well as every form sent with the return (W2 or 1099, Form 8843, Form 1095, Form 1098-T, 1042-S).

What is the deadline for filing my tax return?

1040NR and 8843: April
1040EZ or 1040: April
8843: June

I’m unable to file by the deadline, what do I do?

File Form 4868, “Extension of Time to File”, which extends the deadline to file until August 15. If you owe any taxes though, you must still mail your estimated tax payment by April 15 or you will be assessed penalty and interest as of April 16, on any payment owed.

How do I know if I have to file a federal tax return?

With the exception of J1 visa (Teacher/Trainee 2 yrs.), all international students in the U.S must file Form 8843 for their first 5 years. There are 2 possible scenarios: If you did not receive income from a prior year, you must file form 8843. However, if you received income, you will file forms 8843 and 1040NR.

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