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 ISSO is partnering with Sprintax to provide you an easy to use tax preparation software that can be used by Columbia international students and scholars for free for all federal forms, and also for state forms (for a fee).

Check this page again during the week of February 18th to see if there is updated information on using SPRINTAX for free for your federal tax return by logging in through this page.

Watch the Sprintax video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgcLFMYgpHo (3:30 minutes)

GLACIER TAX PREP (GTP)

If you used GTP last year through Columbiaís ISSO or as a student at another school and would like to continue using it, you may choose to do so by paying an individual user fee at Glacier Tax Prep

FEDERAL TAX RETURNS

The ISSO is in the process of obtaining a group license for an online federal non-resident tax preparation system from SPRINTAX. Columbia's F-1 and J-1 students and scholars will be able to use theis user-friendly system for free to complete their federal tax returns or only hte Form 8843 for individuals who did not have income in the U.S. during the 2015 tax year, January 1 - December 31, 2015. The filing deadline for 2015 returns is April 18, 2016 because of a holiday on April 15, 2016.

STATE TAX RETURNS

Not everyone has income that requires a state tax return, but the good news is that if you do, you can use Sprintax to complete state tax returns. If you choose to use Sprintax for services in addition to the free federal tax return, you will be charged individually for it. Sprintax is the only non-resident web-based system to offer this functionality

DIFFERENT RULES AND DIFFERENT FORMS FOR RESIDENTS AND NONRESIDENT ALIENS FOR TAX PURPOSES

Your tax status is based solely on your presence in the U.S. with special rules for students and scholars in F or J status.

DONíT COMMIT U.S. TAX FRAUD IN ERROR by filing a tax return for which you are not eligible. You cannot choose to file a resident tax form (1040 or 1040EZ) if you are a non-resident for federal tax purposes. Sprintax will help you determine your tax status if youíre not sure.

Generally, F and J students are ďnon-resident aliensĒ for federal tax purposes in the first 5 years in student status (as of 2015) in the U.S. J-1 scholars are generally considered non-resident aliens for federal tax purposes in their first 2 years in J-1 status (as of 2015).

TAX-RELATED FORMS

You may receive one or more of the following forms, or none, depending on your personal situation:

If you are supposed to receive the 1042-S, you cannot prepare and file your 2015 income tax returns without it. If Columbia University is the payer, it is mailed at the end of February. If your address has changed, send an email to Carlos Lira-Coppo in the Human Resources office which issues the 1042-S with your correct current address in the email message.

Last Reviewed: 11 February 2016 Last modified: 11 February 2016
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office