Taxes for International Students - Filing a Tax Return
All students and their spouses who are on an F or J visa and were physically here in the 2013 tax year MUST file at least one U.S. federal tax document to the Internal Revenue Service, regardless of whether or not income is earned in the U.S. Students and their spouses who earn income in the US will also need to file a Maine State Tax Return. In most cases your tax form is due by April 15th.
Determining if you are Resident or Non-resident for Federal Tax purposes
If you are an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, you must first determine if you are a Resident or Non-resident for federal tax purposes. This determination is separate from your immigration status. Most students are Non-residents for tax purposes but if you have been in the U.S. for five years in F, J, M or Q status (including as a dependent) including the tax year you are filing for you may be considered a Resident for tax purposes. For more information on determining your tax residency status please refer to the IRS webpage that describes the Substantial Presence Test.
A nonresident alien (and certain resident aliens) from a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty may qualify for certain benefits. Most treaties require that the nonresident alien be a resident of the treaty country to qualify. However, some treaties require that the nonresident alien be a national or a citizen of the treaty country. For more information on tax treaty benefits refer to section 9 of IRS Publication 519.
Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
If you need to apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) you will need to do so BEFORE you file your return. Information about how to apply for the ITIN will be given to you when you pick up your tax document at OIP. Individuals filing for an ITIN will have to delay their tax filing. You should file for your ITIN as soon as possible so that you can timely file your tax return. If you have questions please contact Mireille LeGal at OIP.
Filing Your Federal Tax Return
OIP’s International Student & Scholar Services purchases a tax software program called GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) for all of our eligible current students to use. GTP Software is an Internet-based tax return preparation system that will help F or J visa holders prepare their 2013 U.S. federal tax forms. After going through GTP, the program will prepare the appropriate federal tax forms for you to print out and an instruction sheet that will tell you where to send the forms. This software can be used by your F-2 or J-2 dependents as well. GTP will NOT prepare Maine State Tax forms but you will use your GTP prepared federal tax form to complete your Maine form. Preparation of the Maine state tax form is discussed below.
If you have NO income to report from a job or scholarship:
If you had no income in the calendar year for which tax returns are being filed and you are a non-resident for federal tax purposes, you must file Federal Form 8843. If you had no income and will file only the 8843, the deadline is June 15. In other words, if the tax year is 2013, the deadline to file the 8843 is June 15, 2014. You may use the GTP Software to prepare this form.
If you earned money from a job or received a scholarship:
If you earned money from a job or received a scholarship that covers your living expenses you will need to complete the following:
You can use the GTP Software to complete both the 1040NR-EZ form and the 8843 Form.
Documents you will need to prepare and file your federal tax return:
- Your Passport
- Form I-20 (F-1) or Form DS2019 (J-1)
- Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number (if you have been assigned one)
- US entry & exit dates for current and all past visits
- W-2- Employers are required to withhold a portion of each employee’s salary and pay an estimated tax to the U.S. government. At the end of each year, all employers report to the IRS and to the employee the actual wages earned and the federal tax payments that have been paid. The employer’s report to employees is called the W-2. The University of Maine Payroll Office will send W-2s to all those who have earned wages from the University by the end of January for the previous year. If you earned money from an off-campus company during an authorized internship or training program you should also receive a W-2 from this employer.
- 1042-S- This form- will be sent by mid-March to recipients of taxable scholarships and to individuals who qualify for exemptions under a tax treaty.
Both the W-2 and 1042S (if you have one) must be included in the student’s tax return form 1040NR-EZ.
Payments and Refunds:
GTP will determine the amount of tax you should have paid and compare it with the amount of tax paid. In some cases the employer does not withhold enough tax from your yearly earnings. In this case GTP will tell you the amount of tax you need to pay. The payment, in the form of a check or money order, should be sent in with your tax form. If the employer withheld more tax than you owe GTP will determine the amount you will be refunded. You will be asked to provide your bank account information so that your refund can be directly deposited into your account.
Please remember that GTP does not electronically file your federal tax return. After completing the form(s) with the software you must print and mail the form to the IRS via U.S. Postal Service. You must include your W-2 and 1042-S(if you have one). Your return must be post-marked by April 15th or you may receive a penalty.
Residents for Tax Purposes
If you are a Resident for tax purposes you are taxed the same as a U.S. citizen on worldwide income. You will not be given a Glacier Tax Prep password, but you should use the free tax software provided by the IRS. You can also use Turbo Tax or other commercial software that is designed to prepare tax returns for US citizens. You may also want to seek help or advice from a tax preparation expert.
Tax Resource Links for Federal Tax Filing
Internal Revenue Service
http://www.irs.gov/ – General information about U.S. federal tax returns.
U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens (IRS Publication 519) (PDF) – This document is a comprehensive tax guide on issues pertaining to foreign nationals and their tax status.
U.S. Tax Treaties (IRS Publication 901) (PDF) – Detailed information on U.S. tax treaties.
Tax updates will be posted closer to the tax filing deadline on April 15.
Filing Your Maine State Tax Return
Below are the links to the 1040 Maine tax form and instructions for completing the form. You should have a copy of your completed federal tax form when you complete the state form. You will be asked to input numbers/amounts from the federal form.
You may need the following forms to file with the 1040 Maine tax form:
Worksheets A& B if you moved to Maine in 2013 from another country or state.
2012 Maine State Tax Example Form This document was provided by the Maine Bureau of Taxes. It is very helpful but be sure to read the complete instructions that accompanies the form.
More information about filing your Maine state income tax return can be found at the Maine Revenue Services website.
Paying Tax on Income Earned in Other States
If you earned income in another state during the tax year you may be required to file a tax form in that state. OIP recommends that you review the tax department’s web site for that state for instructions on how to file.