Understanding Taxes as an International Student
In the United States, all adults present in the country are responsible for filing taxes. As an international student, this includes you, regardless of whether or not you have employment.
When you arrive to the U.S. and go through orientation, you should submit an Foreign National Tax Information Form to the International Tax Office as soon as possible. This form is available in our Forms Library. This form allows our International Tax Office to check any tax treaties that may exempt you from paying taxes, either on scholarships you receive or employment income you earn, while in the United States. However, even if exempt, you still need to file your taxes each year. This form only needs to be completed one time.
If you were present in the U.S. during the previous calendar year, you need to file your taxes. It does not matter if you had employment--all students need to file. Are you worried about how to do this? Never fear! ISS offers assistance for all F-1 and J-1 students through the Sprintax tax filing program, which is customized for international students. This information will be available February through April of each year.
After 5 Year of Residence in the United States
If you have been in the U.S. for 5 years or more, you may qualify as a resident for tax purposes. This means that the Sprintax program may not work for you, and you may need to pursue your own tax filing assistance through Turbotax or another similar company. ISS cannot advise on this, but Sprintax should provide assistance on whether or not you are eligible for their tax filing software.
The advisors at ISS are not tax specialists, and we legally cannot advise you on your tax returns nor on filing your taxes.