Tax Information for International Students
What is "filing a tax return"?
If you worked on campus or off campus with CPT or OPT and earned money during 2013, you probably noticed that the university or your employer took taxes from your paycheck. Now is the time when you reconcile the estimated taxes taken from yoru paycheck with how much was actually owed. Sometimes this results in a refund where the U. S. government and the stat of Oregon give you some of that money back. In other cases a student may owe some additional taxes. This process is called "filing a tax return," and is a simple, but detailed process.
Should I file taxes?
Generally, students in F-1 status who earned US wages of $3,900 or less are not required to file a tax return. All international students should submit the Form 8843, which identifies you as a non-resident and prevents any of your income from abroad being taxed.
If you worked for money during the year 2013 and want the tax money that was deducted from your paychecks returned to you, you will need to file a tax return. Also, if you are considering applying for permanent-residency in the U.S. in the future, it would be in your favor to file your taxes appropriately and keep organized records of your filed tax returns. Interest gained in bank accounts does not need to be reported by international students.
If your circumstances are unusual in any way, we recommend that you seek professional tax advice regarding your specific situation.
When should I file a tax return?
The deadline to file a tax return is April 15, 2014.
How do I file taxes?
US Federal Taxes: Federal tax-collecting agency: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
As an international student you must fill out and send the following two forms to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
- Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR
- Form 8843
- Form 8843 (even if you have not earned any income, you should still complete and submit this form to the IRS)
Oregon State Taxes: State tax-collecting agency: Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR)
The International Student Services Office cannot provide legal advice concerning your taxes, but we can offer suggestions about where to get help. You are ultimately responsible for complying with tax laws and should consult with your personal tax advisor if you have specific questions about your individual tax liability. All of the resources below provide free tax advice, except the last one.
- IRS-Federal Tax Questions: 1-800-829-1040.
- IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. Not all VITA volunteers are trained to assist with Nonresident alien taxes, so be sure to identify yourself as an international student. Search for VITA programs near you: http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/
- NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, has put together a Federal Income Tax Brochure for international students and international advisors, you can download the brochure using this hyperlink:
- NAFSA’s Federal Income Tax Resource Library for International Students.
You can also check to see if Tax Return Software such as www.turbotax.com can help guide you as you file your tax return. You can find others by Googling "tax return software".
- Start by downloading all the forms you need to file, and the instructions that accompany these forms.
- Using your W-2s, start filling out your Federal tax forms, line by line.
- State tax forms should be filled out after Federal tax forms.
- If you do not understand what is required for a specific line item, read the instructions for that form.
- If you still do not understand what is required for a specific line item, consult one of the tax resources in this message.
- If you don't understand a specific word or phrase, consult a classmate or come to the International Student Services office.
- Make copies of everything you send to the IRS and to Oregon Department of Revenue. This will help if you have a problem with your refund.
Breif description of tax-related forms you should be familiar with.
- W-2 – Your employer will send you this form by the end of January. It shows how much you’ve earned in the previous year and how much was withheld in taxes.
- 1099-INT – Your bank will send you this form showing how much interest income you earned. Non-residents are not taxed on this interest, however you may be asked to include this form with your tax return.
- 1042-S – If you receive scholarships, the giving organization will send you this form. Only scholarship money used for room and board is taxable. Scholarship money used for tuition, fees, and books is not taxable.
- 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ – You will use one of these forms to file a federal tax return. The simplified form (1040NR-EZ) is sufficient for most students.
- OR-40N – You will use this form to file a state tax return.
- 8843 – This form MUST be filed by ALL international students, with or without income. It identifies you as a non-resident and prevents any of your income from abroad from being taxed.