Q: How does the income tax system work in the U.S.?
In the U.S., the tax year runs from January 1 to December 31 of any given year. Employers are required to take money out of your paycheck for taxes during that year. This process is called “withholding” money for taxes. That tax money is paid to the U.S. federal tax department which is called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Oregon Tech Payroll Office (or another U.S. employer) determines the amount to be “withheld” out of your paycheck based upon U.S. tax treaties with your country and IRS regulations. In January through March of every year, employers and universities report wages, scholarships, and tax withheld to the IRS during the previous year and send statements to individuals by March 15th every year. Individuals then determine what the correct amount of tax liability should be through a form call a “tax return form.” The tax return form is due on April 15th every year. That return covers the previous year’s income.
Q: What is a tax return?
A “tax return” is a form you fill out and send in (either by mail or electronically) to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The form is both for paying taxes that you may owe and also for getting back money that has been taken out of your paycheck.
Q: How do I know if I need to file a U.S. federal tax return?
A: All international students and scholars and their dependents are required to file at least one tax form with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - the Form 8843.
Q: What if I didn’t earn any income?
A: Even if you did not earn any income in the U.S., you are required to complete an 8843, recording your presence in the U.S.
Q: Who Must File Form 8843?
All nonresident aliens who are presently in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 non-immigrant status must file Form 8843. Form 8843 "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition" must be filed even if NO income was earned during the tax year.
Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:
- present in the U.S. during tax year
- a nonresident alien
- present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status
If an individual meets all three qualifications above, the individual must file Form 8843, regardless of the individual's age and even if the individual is not required to file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ).
Q: What is Form 8843?
Form 8843 is not an income tax return. Form 8843 is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).
Q: Do I Need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to File Form 8843?
The SSN or the ITIN is not needed when completing Form 8843. However, if the nonresident has been assigned either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the number must be included on Form 8843.
An exception to this rule is for individuals who are eligible to be claimed as dependents on a U.S. income tax return. Such individuals must have an SSN/ITIN. Only nonresident aliens from a very limited number of countries may claim an exemption for their dependents on their U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR). In such a case, any dependent who is claimed must have a SSN/ITIN. An exemption for spouse and/or dependents is only applicable if the country of tax residence is:
- American Samoa
- Northern Mariana Islands
- India (applicable only to F-1 and J-1 students)
Q: How Do I Submit Form 8843?
- If you are required to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR/1040NR-EZ), attach Form 8843 to the back of the tax return.
- If Form 8843 is for a spouse or dependent eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return, Form 8843 must be attached to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.
- If Form 8843 is not filed in connection with a federal tax return, the form must be sent to Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215 and is due by June 15, 2015. Please note that each individual who files Form 8843 must send the form separately from any other form or anyone else's forms. Do not mail multiple forms together – each one must be separate.
Example, Juanita is present in the U.S. under an F-1 immigration status with her husband and 3 year old daughter (both present in F-2 immigration status). Juanita is the only person in the family who received U.S. source income during 2014. Therefore, she will file an income tax return (Forms 1040NR/1040NR-EZ) with Form 8843 attached. Her husband will file Form 8843 and mail in a separate envelope; and her daughter must submit Form 8843 (in a separate envelope), regardless of her age.
Q: What is the deadline to file?
Every year, the deadline is April 15th (or the next business day after the 15th).
Q: What kinds of income are taxable?
The following types of income are taxable:
- Scholarship, fellowship or grant from a U.S. source that exceeded the amount of tuition and mandatory fees.
- Wages from any U.S. job, on-campus or off-campus, including teaching or research assistantship.
- Consulting fees for work done in the U.S.
- Dividends and/or capital gains from ownership of U.S. mutual funds or individual stocks or bonds.
- Any other income (such as rent, royalties, copyright earnings) from U.S. sources EXCEPT for interest earned on a savings account or certificate of deposit in a U.S. bank.
Q: What are the W-2 and 1042-S forms?
Employers and universities are required to report wages, scholarships, and tax money withheld from your paycheck to the IRS. The employers send statements to individuals by March 15th every year. There are many types of these statements, but the most common ones for international students and academic staff are these two forms:
- W-2: Wage and Tax Statement and/or
- 1042-S: Foreign Person’s US Source Income Subject to Withholding
Q: What is a W-2 form?
The W-2 form reports your wages you earned and any taxes the employer has withheld from your paycheck for federal or state taxes. If you earned income in the U.S., a W-2 should be sent to you by mid-February every year.
Q: What if I didn’t get a W-2 form?
A: If you did not earn wages in the U.S. in the tax year, then you will not be receiving a W-2. If you did earn wages and you have not received one, contact the employer. It is possible that they do not have the correct mailing address for you.
If your employer is OIT, contact the OIT Payroll Office at 541.885.1210.
Q: What is a 1042S form?
A 1042-S reports scholarships, fellowships, grants, awards and any other payment made to you for which you did not work (i.e. NOT wages). It also reports earned income (wages) which are exempt from tax because of a tax treaty between your country of citizenship and the U.S. If you received these types of income, you are supposed to receive this form from the payers by March 15
th every year. If you are not sure if you will be receiving a 1042-S form, you can contact the OIT Payroll Office at 541.885.1210.
Q: What if I didn’t get a 1042-S form?
If you did not receive the types of income listed above in the tax year, then you will not be receiving a 1042-S.
If you are not sure, contact the OIT Payroll Office at 541.885.1210 or appropriate employer.
If you think you should have received one only for the tax treaty benefits, you can still claim the benefit of the tax treaty without having the 1042-S form.
Q: I have heard that my country has a tax treaty with the U.S., how do I get the benefit of that treaty?
Wages you earn in the U.S. that are exempt from tax due to a tax treaty should be reported to you on a 1042-S form.
Q: What is a 1098-T form?
All students have 1098T information generated for them. IF they do not have a SSN in the system then your OIT ID# will be printed on the 1098-T. Students are notified by the OIT Business Office that they are available on their web-for-student account to view and print.
Internationals filing taxes as Non-Residents should IGNORE the 1098-T form
. This form is a tax document that reports to the student (and the IRS) tuition charges and financial aid for a calendar year.
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Q: I don’t have a U.S. social security number. Do I need one to file tax forms?
If you did NOT receive any payments and you only need to fill out the 8843 form, you will not need any type of tax identification number.
Q: I thought I did not have to pay social security and medicare, but my employer has taken out social security and medicare from my paycheck. What should I do?