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The International Student Blog

Filing Your Tax Return as an International Student

Posted on April 10th, 2015 by Bryanna Davis

Tax season is here and as an international student you are not exempt from the burden of filing your tax return. However, most international students and their dependents will find that filing their US tax return is fairly easy- especially if they did not receive any income.

The deadline to file is quickly approaching: April 15th, so let’s get started on how to begin the process of filing your US tax return.

The first step is to confirm if you’re considered a resident alien or non-resident alien for tax purposes. If you’re an international student on an F, J, M or Q visa and have been inside the US for less than five calendar years you are more than likely an non-resident alien. If you’re an international student on F, J, M or Q visa and have been inside the United for more than five calendar years you will probably fall under the category of resident alien unless you qualify for the closer connection exception.

Resident Aliens
If you are a resident alien you are able to find more information on what you need to file your tax return by visiting the IRS website.

Non-Resident Aliens
All non-resident aliens and their dependents will need to complete a Form 8843 and mail them in using separate envelopes. If you are a non-resident alien and received income (even scholarships or bank interest) you will have an additional form to complete: Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Many international students without dependents will be able to complete the 1040NR-EZ- simply first review the requirements you need to meet in order to complete this easier version of the 1040NR. If you meet the necessary criteria it’s suggested that you complete the 1040NR-EZ.

Form 8843 and 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ are fairly simply for most international students to complete depending on their situation. International students who have problems completing the necessary forms or are worried about completing them incorrectly always have the option of recruiting assistance.

A few options you will want to consider when searching for help include:
$ On campus resources
$$ Tax programs or software like Sprintax
$$$ Hiring a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Keep in mind that for many of you who are filing your tax return as an international student it will be a simple process and can save you money by completing these documents yourself.

If you missed our Hangout on Air on filing a US tax return you can still watch and get great tax information.

Written by Bryanna Davis

Bryanna joined EIC in 2011 after returning to the United States from teaching English in China. Her interest in international education, sparked initially by her own study abroad experience in Wales, led her to the company. Bryanna is originally from Missouri and is a graduate from the University of Central Missouri.

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2 Responses to “Filing Your Tax Return as an International Student”

  1. OP Says:

    what happens if I am late in filing my taxes this year?
    I missed the date as I thought Sprintax would be sending them directly .
    I mis read.
    I am sending my packet today.
    What are the consequences of this?

  2. Bryanna Davis Says:

    Hi Op,

    You could face payment penalties depending on your situation. I would suggest contacting the IRS directly for the most accurate information.

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