Tax Frequently Asked Questions
OGS has a few resources to assist you with U.S. taxes, and how to fulfill your annual tax filing obligations:
- Watch videos about U.S. Taxes in the International Student & Scholar Services Canvas course.
- Complete the 2018 Tax Questionnaire to understand your federal tax residency for the year and what tax forms to file.
- Review the annual International Student Tax Workshop slides (PDF) from Common $ense.
- Expect an email from OGS in late January or early February about steps to submit your tax forms before the filing deadline.
IS Advisors are not tax specialists, and cannot provide tax advise. We cannot provide guidance or tell you how to fill out your tax forms.
However, OGS has a Tax Questionnaire to help determine which tax forms you will need to file and provide access to resources to assist with fulfilling your annual tax filing obligations.
In addition, the below resources may be helpful:
- If you are using GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP), use the Help Link.
- Note: GTP does not accept phone calls or e-mails. They will only assist you via the Help Link. Response time is usually within 2 hours during their business hours.
- Contact a Tax Specialist.
- Review the IRS Publication 519: Tax Guide for Aliens.
- Review the IRS International Taxpayer website.
International students and scholars who have been in the United States for any portion of 2018 must file tax forms by the following year’s tax filing deadline, even if they earned no U.S. income.
International students and scholars who earned U.S. income should take the Tax Questionnaire to determine what tax forms they must file.
If you are owed a refund, filing a tax return is the only way to receive it. Furthermore, payment of income tax due is not voluntary, it is required by law. One of the conditions maintaining your immigration status is to comply with U.S. law.
If you owe taxes and do not file, the IRS can assess penalties, interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax amount due. In addition, there can be immigration consequences for failing to file taxes. Applicants for permanent residency or “green cards” are frequently asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the United States.
Mail your tax return by April 15, 2019 (it must be postmarked by that date).
Keep a copy for your records. If you are filing only Form 8843 or you are currently outside the U.S., the deadline is June 17, 2019.
No U.S. Source Income
All nonresident aliens for tax purposes, in F or J status, are required to complete Form 8843 with the IRS regardless of whether they received income. This also includes dependents in F-2 and J-2 status, regardless of age. For instructions on how to complete this form, visit the No U.S. Source Income Tax Questionnaire Results page.
2. I arrived in the United States in December 2018 and didn’t work. Do I still have to file Form 8843?
All nonresident aliens for tax purposes who spent at least one day of 2018 in F or J status are required to complete Form 8843 and mail it to the IRS. The deadline is June 17, 2019.
Complying with U.S. tax law is part of maintaining your immigration status. You should file the previous year’s Form 8843 as soon as possible. Please visit the No U.S. Source Income Tax Questionnaire Results page for filing instructions.
Students and Scholars with Families
Anyone in F or J status present in the United States and a nonresident for tax purposes is required to complete a tax form. If your F-2 or J-2 dependent did not earn any income, they would be required to fill out the Form 8843. Please visit the No U.S. Source Income Tax Questionnaire Results page for filing instructions.
J-2 dependents who received an EAD card and earned income will need to take the Tax Questionnaire to determine what tax forms they must file in addition to Form 8843.
If your child is a U.S. citizen and did not earn any income, no tax forms need to be completed.
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident alien for tax purposes, and you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, then you may elect to treat yourself as a resident alien for the year and file a tax return (Form 1040) together with your spouse under the filing status “married filing jointly.”
In this situation, your tax filing obligations will be the same as a U.S. citizen and resident alien and must report your worldwide income to the IRS.
For more information, please visit the IRS Nonresident Alien Spouse page.
The Form W-2 is a tax form issued by your employer that reports all the income you earned in a particular calendar year. The Form W-2 also details any federal, state and other taxes (ie: Social Security and Medicare) withheld from your paychecks.
You will use the information on the Form W-2 to create your federal and state tax returns.
If you were employed at Georgetown University or an outside organization or business and earned paychecks for your work and services, then you will be issued a Form W-2 no later than January 31, 2019.
If your position was unpaid, then you will not receive a Form W-2 because you received no U.S. source income.
Forms W-2 are to be issued no later than January 31, 2019. If you have not yet received a Form W-2 and you worked at:
- Georgetown University: Print a copy from GMS if you are a current employee, or contact the Payroll Office to request a duplicate copy. If you no longer have access to GMS, contact the Payroll Office.
- Outside Organization or Business: Contact your employer to request another Form W-2.
Note: Tax forms vary according to individual circumstances. All of your income might be reported on one form, or you might receive multiple forms.
The Form 1042-S is a tax form issued by your scholarship/grant provider or employer that reports:
- Scholarship/grant income awarded over tuition and fees in a particular calendar year.
- Any income exempt from federal and state tax from a tax treaty. (You must have submitted a Form W-8BEN to Georgetown University Tax Department or outside employer in advance for this to occur.)
The Form 1042-S also details any federal and state tax withheld from your scholarship/grant stipend.
If you were awarded a Georgetown scholarship, grant, or fellowship over tuition and fees or applied for tax treaty benefits, then you will then you will be issued a Form 1042-S no later than March 15, 2019.
If you did not have any scholarships or grants awarded over tuition and fees, or did not apply for tax treaty benefits through the Georgetown University Tax Department or outside employer, then you will not receive a Form 1042-S.
Forms 1042-S are to be issued no later than March 15, 2019. If you have not received the form by March 22, 2019, please contact the Georgetown Tax Department. Forms 1042-S are issued only to those who received non-payroll payments or who had a tax treaty benefit in 2018. Non-payroll income includes:
- Non-Payroll Stipend Payments
- Financial Aid in excess of tuition and fee costs
- Prizes and Awards
When contacting the Georgetown Tax Department about the Form 1042-S, please include the following in your email:
- Subject Line: Missing Form 1042-S
- Body of Email Message: (1) Full legal name as it appears on your passport and, (2) your current mailing address.
Note: Not everyone will receive a Form 1042-S. You might receive either: (1) Form W-2 reporting all your income; (2) Form W-2 and Form 1042-S or; (3) Form 1042-S reporting all of your income. Look to see if all income is reported on the forms you receive.
Form 1098-T is issued to students for informational purposes only. It reports how much tuition you paid. Keep the form on file for reference.
Forms 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C
Form 1095 (-A, -B or -C) determines whether individuals and employers have complied with the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s healthcare coverage requirement. Nonresidents for tax purposes do not have any obligations associated with Form 1095.
If you are a resident for tax purposes and were insured through the Georgetown University Student Health Insurance Premier Plan, you will need information from your Form 1095-B to prepare your tax return.
All full-time employees who were eligible for medical insurance through Georgetown University in 2018 will receive Form 1095-C containing information about the healthcare coverage offered to GU employees and their dependents. Form 1095-C is submitted directly to the IRS by the employer. Individuals do not have to submit a copy to the IRS, but should indicate on their tax return whether or not they and/or their dependents were covered by employer-provided health insurance plan and, if so, for how many months. If you receive Form 1095-C, keep it for your records.
Visit the IRS website for more details.
Tax Filing Software
1. I used GLACIER Tax Prep last year to complete my tax return. Do I need a new access code for this year?
Yes, please complete the Tax Questionnaire to determine if you are still a nonresident for tax purposes. If you are, complete the GLACIER Tax Prep Access Code Request Form to get a new access code for this year.
Contact Darius Ngo to request the letter.
No, if you use GTP to complete your tax forms, it will help you complete the Form 8843 for F-2 or J-2 dependents. If your J-2 dependent received income, contact your IS Advisor.
1040-NR tax returns may be e-filed, but 1040NR-EZ tax returns (which most students and scholars will complete) may not be e-filed. If you use GLACIER Tax Prep to prepare your return, you will need to print and mail your return(s) to the IRS. Keep a copy for your records.
State Tax Returns
If you use GLACIER Tax Prep to complete your federal tax forms, it will determine whether you need to file a state tax return. Please review the instructions for more information.
If you need assistance filing a state tax return, Sprintax has a software program to help nonresidents for tax purposes with state tax returns. You can purchase it starting at $25.95. Please note that OGS does not sponsor or pay for Sprintax.
Refunds and Tax Treaties
The IRS often experiences delays in issuing refunds for nonresident tax returns. Expect to receive your refund within 1-2 months.
Use GLACIER Tax Prep to complete your tax return and follow their instructions for requesting a refund.
Visit the IRS website for information about tax treaties and terms.
U.S. Tax IDs
SSN: If you have received wages for employment, you should have an SSN. If you hold J-1 status, you are eligible for an SSN, even without having been employed. Check with your IS Advisor for more information.
ITIN: If you are not eligible for an SSN and need to file a federal income tax return, you will need to apply for an ITIN (e.g., you are an F-1 student whose only income was fellowship benefits reported on a Form 1042-S). There are two ways to apply for an ITIN:
An SSN or an ITIN is required to file a tax return. Students filing only Form 8843 require neither an SSN nor an ITIN.
- Use GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) to complete your tax return and the W-7 ITIN application. (You must first complete the Tax Questionnaire and confirm that you are a nonresident for tax purposes before receiving access to GTP.) Obtain a certified copy of your passport from your Embassy. Follow the GTP instructions for submitting the ITIN application with your tax return. If GTP tells you that you need a No Employment Letter, contact Darius Ngo.
- If you are unable to obtain a certified copy of your passport to support the W-7 application, you must file the W-7 application first, wait for the ITIN to be issued (about 8 weeks), then file your tax return. In this case, the W-7 application must be submitted by Darius Ngo. Follow these procedures:
- Schedule an appointment with Darius Ngo to certify your documents.
- Bring your completed and signed W-7, passport, I-94 record and Form I-20 to the appointment
- Darius will submit the application to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Once you receive the ITIN you can then file your tax return. Please also report the ITIN to the Georgetown Tax Department.
ITIN questions should be directed to the Help Link within GTP or to Darius Ngo.
1. Will the IRS or SSA ever call or e-mail me? Should I provide any bank account, SSN or other personal information to the IRS over the phone or via e-mail?
The IRS and SSA will never call or e-mail you. Be aware of tax scams, and never provide any bank account, SSN or any personal information to any person who calls or e-mails you.
Do not fall victim to scammers who call and impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) officials ! Aggressive phone scams are common during tax season. Impersonators claim that required taxes have not been paid or that there is a problem with your SSN, and demand immediate payment by threatening arrest or deportation.
Remember these tips:
- The IRS and SSA will never call or send an email to demand immediate payment.
- The IRS and SSA will never threaten or intimidate people, demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or demand a credit card or debit card number over the phone or by email.
- The IRS and SSA will never threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you don’t pay.
Report suspected scams to both the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
A sample of the latest SSA scam can be found in the FTC article “Social Security is Not Trying to Take Your Benefits”.
The FTC has also created a video on how to identify and avoid IRS Imposter Scams.
Prior Year Tax Returns
Complying with U.S. tax law is part of maintaining your immigration status. You are able to file retroactively and should file your previous year’s tax return as soon as possible.
While the complementary nonresident tax software we offer only serves your 2018 tax purposes, you can purchase an individual license for GLACIER Tax Prep for $39 to help with retroactive filing. You can also find tax forms from prior years on the IRS website.
Substantial Presence Test
The Substantial Presence Test (SPT) is a calculation used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine a non-U.S. citizen’s tax status as a resident or nonresident by counting the days of physical presence in the United States. The SPT must be applied on a yearly basis.
Students in F-1 or J-1 status are exempt from the SPT for the first five calendar years as a tax benefit. During the five years of SPT exemption, students are nonresidents for tax purposes.
Scholars in J-1 status are exempt from the SPT for any two years within the past six calendar years as a tax benefit. During the two years of SPT exemption, scholars are nonresidents for tax purposes.
The following is used as criteria to satisfy the SPT:
- The individual must be present in the United States for at least 31 days during the given calendar year.
- The individual must add all the following values together:
- All the days physically present in the United States in the given calendar year
- 1/3 of the days physically present in the United States during the first preceding calendar year
- 1/6 of the days physically present in the United States during the second preceding calendar year
After adding the values together, if the resulting calculation is:
- 183 Days or More: SPT satisfied; Individual is a resident for tax purposes for the given calendar year.
- Less than 183 Days: SPT not satisfied; Individual is a nonresident for tax purposes for the given calendar year.
Take the Tax Questionnaire to determine if you need to take the SPT to establish your tax status.
For further details, please visit the IRS Substantial Presence Test Webpage.
2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Enacted in 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made revisions in federal tax law that impacts the filing of both nonresidents and residents. The main items that the 2017 Tax Reform changed are:
Elimination of Personal Exemptions – nonresidents were previously allowed this deduction to lessen tax liability. Without this deduction, all nonresidents who had U.S. source income in 2018 have their tax liability start at $0.
Increase of the Standard Deduction – the standard deduction was increased from $6,350 to $12,000 for single individuals, almost doubling the amount of previous years. This reform was meant to simplify tax code by combining the personal exemption and standard deduction together. While residents are allowed to take this deduction, nonresidents still do not have access to this deduction.