Every international student, scholar and their dependents (including spouses and children of all ages) are required to file tax if they were present in the US for any length of time in 2015. The deadline for filing your tax forms with the US government is April 18th (Mon), 2016. You must mail your completed forms and supporting documentation, as required, by that date.
OISS has purchased enough number of licenses for an online software called Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) which is designed to assist internationals (non-resident aliens for tax purpose) with tax filing. The software will be available at OISS beginning March 9th (Mon). Please stop by at OISS and sign-up for the license. You need to pay $2 license fee (cash only).
Tax filing can be confusing, but we at OISS want to do what we can to make the process easier. Below are some tips and resources for filing taxes.
Step1: Determine your Tax Residence Status
International students and their dependents on F-1/F-2 and J-1/J-2 visas are automatically considered non-resident aliens for their first 5 calendar years in the US, and scholars (and their dependents) on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for their first 2 calendar years in the US. However, there are exceptions. Substantial Presence Test will be the formula to determine if you should be taxed as a resident or nonresident alien.
If you are non-resident alien, you may use Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) software to complete the forms. Please purchase the software license at OISS (beginning March 9th).
If you are resident alien for tax purpose, GTP unfortunately will not be able to help. You may check out IRS Free File (tax preparation software) information https://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free or use any software or tax filing service firms that is commonly used by U.S. citizens.
Step2: Determine if you have taxable income from U.S.
You have to report any U.S. source income including wages, scholarship, fellowship and stipend. For non-resident aliens, bank interests are not taxable.
If you did not receive any income during 2015, you may only need to complete the Form 8843. Glacier Tax Prep software can assist you with this determination.
If you received any income during 2015, you may need to complete the Form 8843 and Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Glacier Tax Prep software can assist you with this determination and to complete the forms. Tax filing is not mandatory if your income is less than $4,000, however you still must complete Form 8843.
Step3: Make sure you received all the necessary supporting documents
You may receive following documents:
- W-2 form – You will need W-2 from each employer you had in 2015. If you worked for Rice, W-2s are available through your ESTHER account after January 31or it will be mailed to you if you are no longer with Rice.
- 1042-S form – Foreign nationals may receive a 1042-S if they are recipients of tax treaty benefits, scholarships or fellowships from nontax treaty countries. 1042-S forms are picked up from Payroll or may be available online if you have signed up with Payroll’s FNIS
Step4: Create your tax forms
If you are non-resident alien and you have income to report, we advise you to use Glacier Tax Prep software.
The system will tell you if you owe taxes or if the government owes you a refund. If you need to pay to the government, the best option is to enclose a check with your tax documents.
If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), you will need to apply for ITIN and submit the application Form (W-7) together with your tax return. For details on how to apply for ITIN, please see our website http://oiss.rice.edu/tax
Step 5: Mail your tax forms
Once you complete the forms, sign and mail them to the address below with the supporting documents (except when you are enclosing payment).
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, Texas, 73301-0215
If you are applying for ITIN at the same time, you need to go to the local IRS office and submit your tax return there.
Make sure to keep copies of all your tax forms before you send.
Step 6: How to follow-up with your tax return
To check the status of your tax return, go to the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/Refunds
Please note that tax return for non-resident alien takes very long time. If there is any additional documents required, IRS will notify you by mail only. IRS would never try to reach you by phone or e-mail. Please be aware of scams and never give your Social Security Number (SSN) to anyone by phone or e-mail.
Additional resources available on the OISS website: http://oiss.rice.edu/tax