International Student Tax (File for F-1 Tax Returns) (411 × 600 px)

International Student Tax (File for F-1 Tax Returns)

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Are you starting or returning to college in the US this year? 

New people, fresh experiences, and a whole world of exciting opportunities await you as an international student. You’ll get to experience new cultures and meet people from all walks of life.

Though taxes are probably the last thing on your mind when you’re heading off to college, it’s wise to get familiar with some US tax basics as an international student or scholar. 

The most important thing to know is that international students and scholars are required to file a US 1040NR to report income received in the US. 

International teachers, researchers, trainees and participants in a Cultural Exchange Program on a J, F, M, Q visa also have a tax filing requirement. And even if you don’t earn any income, you still need to file a Form 8843.

Close-up of Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition.

And, if you’re in the US on a temporary visa (such as an F-1 international student visa), it is likely that you will be considered a nonresident for tax purposes. Your tax responsibilities will therefore be slightly different to US citizens and residents.

Sprintax is the official nonresident tax partner of TurboTax – they make it easy to file your nonresident tax return online. 

In this guide, we will cover 5 tax facts you need to know as an F-1 international student in the US.

Who is a nonresident for tax purposes?

Typically, F-1 international students are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first five calendar years of their stay in the US.  If you are a nonresident for tax, you will be taxed on your US-sourced income only.

Sprintax will help you to determine your tax residency status for free. Simply create your account here to get started.

Do I have to pay tax in the US?

Yes – F-1 international students must pay tax on their US-sourced income. 

For example, if you receive wages, salary, tips, investment income, prizes/awards, and taxable portions of scholarships and grants, you will be required to pay tax.

Do international students have to file a tax return?

Yes – compliant tax filing is one of the conditions of the F-1 visa.

Therefore, you must file your tax documents before the deadline (in 2024, the tax deadline is April 15 for the 2023 tax year). If you have earned income during the year, you should complete a federal tax return (Form 1040-NR) to review your federal income and taxes. And even if you don’t earn money during your time in the US, you will still need to file Form 8843.

When you sit down to file, you will need to have some important documents close by. Firstly, you will need your Social Security Number or ITIN. Next, you will need your W-2 form. This is an IRS tax form used to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld. 

If you received a taxable scholarship (such as for example a stipend or housing allowance), you will receive a 1042-S form from your school or institution.

Finally, if you received income from investments, you will need your 1099 form when filing your tax return.

Remember – you can easily prepare your nonresident tax return with Sprintax. Get started here.

What will happen if I don’t file my F-1 taxes?

If you do not file your taxes before the deadline, you will be in breach of your visa conditions.

You may also incur fines or penalties from the IRS. What’s more, if you do not have a clean tax record, you may encounter complications when applying for US visas in the future.

Close-up of a woman filling out a visa application and holding a passport.

Sprintax can help you to file your F-1 nonresident tax return

Our friends at Sprintax have designed their tax preparation tool to meet the needs of international students and scholars in the US. 

After you sign up for an account, they’ll ask you some simple questions to help you prepare your Form 1040NR and check for allowable exemptions, expenses, deductions and over 65 international tax treaty agreements that could result in you receiving a tax refund!

Sprintax can also help you apply for an individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, by preparing and submitting a Form W-7 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

To correctly prepare your nonresident tax documents today, simply get started with Sprintax here.

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