Tax Responsibility/Reporting to the Internal Revenue Service

All international students (and accompanying dependents) are required to complete an income tax return annually.


For most of you, this will mean completing the form 1040NR-EZ (U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return) and a form 8843. You are required to file an income tax return even if you have no income from U.S. sources, or if your income is exempt from U.S. taxes due to treaties between the U.S. and your home country. Funds from a University Graduate Scholarship (UGS) are tax exempt and do not need to be included on your tax return.

The U. S. tax system encompasses many different types of taxes (e.g., income tax, Social Security tax, sales tax, personal property tax) and three layers of taxation (local, state, and federal). You have obligations at several levels.

Sources of U.S. income may include on-campus employment, scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships, practical or academic training, and any compensation received for labor. Foreign students do not have to pay taxes on interest paid to them by U.S. banks.

Note that income is not limited to wages paid to you in cash, but also includes that portion of your scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship that is applied to your housing and meal expenses. The portion applied to your tuition fees, books; and supplies is not counted as income. The payroll office will help you make these distinctions. Be sure to inquire about the applicability of any tax treaty that might exist between your country and the United States at the International Student Services Office or the Payroll Office.

Important Dates and Forms

April 15: The last day on which residents and nonresidents who have earned wages from U.S. sources may file their U.S. federal income-tax returns.

June 15: The last day on which nonresident students and their dependents who have no wage income from U. S. sources may file their income tax returns.

Federal Tax Documents

519: U. S. Tax Guide for Aliens, an IRS publication:

Essential for individuals from nations having tax treaties with the United States.

8843: Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical condition:

This one-page document must be completed and returned with the 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ. It verifies nonresident alien tax status.

1040NR: U.S. Nonresident Alien Income tax Return:

The longer version of the return completed by many nonresidents. This form is distinct from the 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ filed by residents for tax purposes. This is not interchangeable with those forms. The IRS publishes an instruction booklet to accompany the form.


U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens with No Dependents. A simplified version of the 1040NR. Most F-1 and J-1 students may file the 1040NR-EZ. The IRS publishes an instruction booklet for this form.

W-2: Wage and Tax Statement:

A form issued annually by employers (normally during the month of January). Copies of the W-2 must be filed with federal, state, and local tax returns.

W-4: Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate:

A form completed by employees at the time of hire to indicate how much tax is to be withheld from the paycheck.

1042S: Foreign Persons U.S. Source lncome Subject to Withholding:

A form used to report total scholarship/ fellowship payments income tax withheld and other information relating to grant payments.

W-8BEN: Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding:

A form used to certify an individual=s foreign status for tax purposes. Typically used by universities for students who have received unqualified scholarships.

Students who are employed in the U.S. (including teaching and research assistants) and are partially or fully exempt by treaty from U.S. taxation must file Form 8233 and the appropriate attachment with the employer to claim exemption from withholding each year. Students who receive service free scholarships or fellowships must file Form W-8BEN.


The IRS provides information through free publications and a telephone information line. The phone number for general tax information is 1-800-829-1040 (ask for the Technical Division). To order any of the federal publications or forms mentioned here contact the IRS Tax Forms and Publications division at 1-800-820-3676 or visit the IRS website >>

Helpful Tax Websites

Visit the International Student Taxes website >>

These other colleges have helpful information regarding taxes for international students: 

Visit the Binghamton University International Student and Scholar Services website >>

Visit the University of Texas at Austin International Student and Scholar Tax Assistance website >> 

Each spring the Director of International Student Services will be available to provide income tax assistance which will answer your questions, and help you complete your tax return.

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