International students and scholars physically present in the U.S. for any part of 2019 are legally required to file tax documentation by April 15, 2020. (**Several news sources have recently reported the filing deadline may be extended. Please refer to the IRS webpage for the most up-to-date information.**) This is true regardless of whether you received any income in 2019.
To help you with your tax filing responsibilities, OIS has arranged free access to Sprintax Tax Preparation software. Sprintax will guide you through the tax preparation process, arrange the necessary tax forms, and check to see if you owe taxes or are due a tax refund. We have also arranged a free webinar that explains your tax filing responsibilities in more detail. You can watch the Sprintax webinar here.
You may access the webinar and request an access code to the Sprintax software here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I was only physically present for one day in 2019. Do I still need to file a tax return? A: Yes! You at least have to file Form 8843 if you were physically present in the U.S. for any part of 2019.
Q: Am I able to file from my home country? A: Yes, you can mail in your tax return forms from your home country. You will need to mail the hard copies of your forms to the IRS.
Q: Can I get an extension on the deadline to file my tax return? A: Yes, you may apply for an extension. It has been recently reported by several news sources that the filing deadline may be extended, but please refer to the IRS webpage for the most up-to-date information. If you owe taxes, the payment deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020, and there will be no penalties or fees for non-payment until this date. You may visit the IRS website for more information on extensions.
Q: I am currently on STEM OPT. Can I use Sprintax to file my tax forms? A: Sprintax will determine whether or not you are a Nonresident Alien for tax purposes, and therefore eligible to use their software. If you are not, they will direct you to another tax filing software. You can watch the Sprintax webinar to determine your tax filing responsibilities and whether or not you can use Sprintax.
Q: Sprintax kicked me out and told me I was a Resident Alien (RA) for tax purposes. What do I do now? A: Sprintax should direct you to another tax filing software that can be used by Resident Aliens. This may include TurboTax, H&R Block, or another tax filing software. RAs can use the same tax filing software as U.S. citizens. The federal form you file will be either the 1040 or 1040-EZ. If you are living in North Carolina, you will file the form D-400.
Q: Do I have to use my NC State email address to create a Sprintax account? A: No, it should not matter which email address you use to create your account.
Q: I received a scholarship in 2019. Do I need to file a tax return? A: Most likely yes, if your scholarship was from a U.S. source. Sprintax will help you determine whether or not you need to file a return for this income.
Q: I worked out-of-state on CPT in 2019. Do I need to file a tax return? A: Yes, if you worked anywhere in the U.S. in 2019, you must file. Sprintax will help you determine if you need to file a state(s) tax return.
Q: How do I know if I am a Nonresident Alien for tax purposes? A: International students on F or J visas are typically considered Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes for the first 5 years you are in the U.S. International scholars on the J visa are typically considered Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes for the first 2 years you are in the U.S. After this period you will be subject to the Substantial Presence Test, which is used to determine if someone was in the U.S. long enough to be considered a resident for tax purposes. Sprintax will run the Substantial Presence Test for you to determine your tax residency.
Q: I only worked for one week in 2019 and never picked up my paycheck. Do I need to file a tax return? A: It may not be necessary to file if you did meet a certain income threshold in 2019, but it may still be in your benefit to file in case you are due a tax refund. Either way, you will need to file Form 8843. Sprintax will help you determine whether or not you need to file a full return.
Q: Do I have to pay taxes on income I received from my home country? A: As long as you are a Nonresident Alien for tax purposes, the U.S. will not tax your income from non-U.S. sources. If you are a Resident Alien for tax purposes, you are taxed on your worldwide income, but you may be eligible for a tax credit on your U.S. federal tax return. Turbo Tax, Tax Act, H&R Block and other similar software programs can help you determine if you are eligible for the foreign tax credit.
Q: Do I need to file separate 8843s for myself and each of my dependents? A: If your dependents are on F-2 or J-2 visas (and not U.S. citizens), then yes, you will need to file a separate Form 8843 for each.
Q: I need an ITIN – how do I apply? A: Sprintax will assist you with completing the ITIN application, which you will mail in with your tax return.