All international students (and accompanying dependents) are required to complete an income tax return each year. For most students, this will mean completing the form required to file an income tax return even if you have no income to report. Scholarship funds are considered income and must be included on a tax return.
The U.S. tax system encompasses many different types of taxes such as income tax, social security tax, sales tax, personal property tax, and at several levels: local, state, and federal. Therefore, international students have obligations at several levels.
Sources of U.S. income may include on-campus employment, scholarships, graduate assistantships, practical and academic training, and any compensation received for labor. International 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 in cash, but also includes that portion of scholarships, fellowships, assistantships that is applied to housing and meal expenses. The portion applied to tuition fees, books, supplies is not counted as income. Be sure to inquire about the applicability of any tax treaty that might exist between a students’ home country and the United States.