OVERVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AND SCHOLAR TAX OBLIGATIONS

The information provided in this tax section is intended only to give you a general sense of taxpaying requirements and may not be relied upon in preparing your individual tax return.

All nonimmigrants in F or J status (both the principal and all dependents) who are deemed "nonresidents for tax purposes" are required to file an individual income tax form 8843–even if they have no U.S.-source income of any kind–if they were in the U.S. during the tax year, January 1 to December 31.

During the tax year individuals who work in the U.S. or have other U.S.-source income have taxes withheld from their earnings. By April 15th of the following year, one has to file an "income tax return" with the federal tax authorities and possibly also with the tax authorities in the state(s) in which one was employed. A tax return reports your income and either requests a refund if more tax was withheld than is required or may require you to pay additional taxes that are owed. The Internal Revenue Service is the United States government agency responsible for the collection of federal income taxes.

The staff of International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) and the International Affairs Office (IAO) are neither qualified nor permitted to answer individual questions from international students or scholars regarding their tax liabilities. To assist international students and scholars in simplifying the complex issue of preparting and filing a nonresident tax return - or to generate a completed Form 8843 - the ISSO has purchased a group license to a user-friendly web-based nonresident alien tax preparation, GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP).

International students and scholars can log onto the GLACIER Tax Prep site with their UNI and password to access the prompt "Go to GLACIER Tax Prep". If you're a first-time user, you will create a user name and password to create your account. If you used GTP last year, you can use the same user name and password to login to your existing account that will have some of your information stored. A complete federal tax return will include either Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ (depending on your situation) and a Form 8843. If you do not have a Social Security Number and had non-employment income (such as a scholarship grant, fellowship or stipend), GTP will also generate a Form W-7; this form is an application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and is sent with your other federal tax forms.

New this year from the GLACIER Tax Prep home page is an informational video "Welcome to the U.S. Tax System" that explains the system and the tax-related forms you may need to complete a tax return. There is also a GTP Tutorial Video and a link to 50 FAQs. These resources will address any questions you may have. GTP will generate all required nonresident federal forms according to the answers you provide. You will only have to print the forms, sign and date them, and follow the mailing instructions.

GTP is ONLY for a federal Nonresident Alien Tax return. GTP will determine your tax status after you have completed questions about your physical presence in the U.S. over a number of years. In general, a STUDENT is considered a nonresident for tax purposes for the first 5 years in the U.S. in F or J student status. Students who arrived in the U.S. in 2008 or earlier may find that are now considered to be "resident aliens for tax purposes". A J-1 SCHOLAR is generally considered a nonresident for tax purposes for the first 2 years in the U.S. so scholars who arrived in the U.S. in 2011 or earlier may find that are now considered to be "resident aliens for tax purposes".

Log in to GLACIER Tax Prep for 2013

New York State Nonresident Tax Filing and Workshops

Information for STUDENTS

New York State (NYS) has changed its policy regarding the NYS tax status of international students who need to file a NYS tax return:

STUDENTS who are nonresident aliens for federal tax purposes are considered to be nonresident aliens for NYS tax purposes.

STUDENTS who are resident aliens for federal tax purposes may be residents or nonresidents for NYS tax purposes, depending on how much time was spent in New York State during the tax year.

Information for SCHOLARS

J-1 SCHOLARS (researchers or professors) must answer these questions to determine your New York State tax status:

To further assist you, the ISSO will offer three nonresident tax workshops for filing a New York State tax return. These workshops are conducted by professionals in international taxation and are for students and scholars who have been determined to be nonresidents for NYS tax purposes AND who have completed their federal nonresident forms with GTP. You must bring your completed federal forms with you in order to complete the New York State tax forms. There will be NY State forms and instructions at the workshops.

New York State Nonresident Workshops

OBTAINING TAX FORMS AND USEFUL PUBLICATIONS

RESOURCES FOR RESIDENT ALIENS FOR TAX PURPOSES

Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014 Last modified: 24 February 2014
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office