INTERNATIONAL

Tax Information and Reporting Requirements for International Students

The following information is compiled from the following sources: www.csun.edu/financial/csun-tax-information, www.irs.gov, and www.nafsa.org.

The following is for your information only and does not replace consulting a tax specialist for your tax information needs. Please consult a professional tax preparer that specializes in international tax matters, or for specific questions related to filing your individual taxes.

Be Aware of Tax Scams

Overview of the American Tax System

Source: Association of International Educators (NAFSA). You may access the information below and tax filing obligations for international students by creating a free log in at www.nafsa.org and access specific information here. Americans and others residing within this country must pay taxes to the state and federal government through an agency called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). International students may receive the following IRS tax forms based on the type of U.S. sourced income they may receive:

  • Form 1042-S
    • Income Types: Taxable Fellowship grant or Nonqualified Scholarships (scholarships that cover Room and board, Travel, Equipment and other related expenses that are not part of tuition costs and other required enrollment fees), Employment Compensation that is tax exempt due to a tax treaty, Independent Contractor Services Compensation, Stipends, Royalty Payments, Prizes
    • Deadline to receive Form 1042-S is March 15th
  • Form 1099
    • Income Types: Independent Contractor Services Compensation, Investment Income, Rental Income
    • Deadline to receive Form 1099 is January 31st
  • Form W-2
    • Income Types: Taxable Wages, Salary, Compensation (Employment Income)
    • Deadline to receive Form W-2 is January 31st

The purpose of filing your tax return is to report all your U.S. sources of income to the government, what you have already paid in taxes and what you might still owe. It is also an opportunity to claim deductions or exemptions you may qualify for. At the end of the process, you calculate how much in total you should have paid. If you paid more than what you owe during the year, you get a refund. On the other hand, if you didn’t pay enough, you have to pay the difference.

Please read carefully the following questions to help you understand your responsibility in regards to U.S. Tax:

Who must file taxes? EVERYONE has to file SOMETHING!

All international F and J students, and their dependents present in the U.S. during any part of the 2020 calendar year has some type of IRS filing obligation and are responsible for filing annual tax forms (also known as "tax returns"). WHAT you will file is dependent on a number of factors. Please continue reading the next questions and answers for more information.

I am an F1 or J1 student who has earned NO INCOME IN THE U.S. during the 2020 calendar year (January 2020-December 2020)

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires international F and J students who are generally considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first five calendar years of their stay in the US. with NO U.S.-SOURCE INCOME in 2020 to file ONLY Form 8843 - "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition." The Form 8843 is not a U.S. income tax return. It is an informational statement required by the IRS for nonresidents for tax purposes (including spouses or dependents of nonresidents).

  • Mail the form by June 15, 2021 to:
    Department of the Treasury
    Internal Revenue Service Center
    Austin, TX 73301-0215
  • International F and J students do not need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number if they are only filing Form 8843. However, if an international student has been issued an SSN or ITIN, the number should be included on Form 8843.

Note: International F and J student, you are considered a nonresident alien unless you meet the Substantial Presence Test (SPT) - The SPT is a calculation used to determine when the foreign national becomes a US resident for tax purposes only. It means that even if you are not a US citizen or do not possess a green card, you could be treated the same as a US citizen for tax purposes. If you have been in the U.S. for longer than 5 years, please see the Tax Residency Flowchart for your reference. (Source: https://www.csun.edu/financial/csun-tax-information)

I am an F1 or J1 student who DID EARN INCOME IN THE U.S. during the 2020 calendar year

An F1 or J1 student who received U.S. sourced income over $0 in 2020 will need to file a federal income tax return with the IRS as required by law. You will need to file Form 8843 AND mostly likely Form 1040NR.

For example, if you earned income from a U.S. employer, you may have already received a Form W-2 (by January 31) from your employer. You should check with the payroll or HR department of your employer for how they will distribute these forms (electronically or through the mail – CHECK WHICH ADDRESS THEY HAVE ON FILE SO IT GOES TO THE CORRECT ADDRESS). Your W2 will be required to complete a tax return.

How do I know if I made US income?
If you earned wages from a job in the United States or received scholarship money from an American organization you are considered to have earned income in the U.S. The full list of potential income sources can be found on the IRS website - https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/nonresident-alie....

How do I file taxes?

No earned US sourced income in 2020: You only need to file Form 8843, you can most likely file this on your own without using a tax software. You must mail in Form 8843 with a copy of your passport biodata page and F-1 visa (or approval notice if changed to F1 in the U.S) and most recent I-94 admission record. To learn more about Form 8843, please visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-8843.

  • Mail the form by June 15, 2021 to:
    Department of the Treasury
    Internal Revenue Service Center
    Austin, TX 73301-0215

Earned US sourced income in 2020: If you earned income in the U.S during the 2020 calendar year, it is highly recommended that you consult with a professional tax preparer with experience working with nonresident tax returns.

When is my deadline to file taxes?

You must file by:

  • IRS extended its deadline to May 17, 2021 (if you earned US sourced income in 2020) OR
  • June 15, 2021 (if you did not earn US sourced income in 2020)

What happens if I do not file taxes?

If you do not file taxes, here are few consequences:

  • Filing tax forms (even if only 8843) is part of maintaining visa status in the United States. Not filing could affect future visa status such as H1B or Lawful Permanent Residency.
  • Fines, penalties, interest can accrue if the IRS is owed
  • Might be missing out on a refund

Tax Information Webinar's for International Students

The University cannot provide personal tax advice to each individual. Please consult a professional tax adviser for your personal tax questions.

The following information is provided as a courtesy to our students, but please be reminded that Sprintax is an outside vendor with no official affiliation with California State University, Northridge (CSUN). CSUN cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information Sprintax provides nor officially endorse any paid services.

The IESC would like to share this opportunity to participate in a free tax clinic for international students provided by Sprintax.

These webinars are designed to provide general information and assistance to international students preparing and filing taxes. Each student is responsible for preparing and filing their own taxes.

Sprintax Webinars

The informational webinars will cover the same topics on each occasion:

  • An overview of tax for nonresident students and scholars
  • Who must file a 2020 US tax return
  • What income forms students/scholars may receive
  • Forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS
  • It will cover terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T
  • What happens if students don’t file, or misfile
  • State tax returns
  • IRS stimulus payments

Sprintax Discount Code- Sprintax has provided CSUN students with a limited number of one-time use discount codes. The unique code is SpR20CSUN251F5. These codes can be used on a first-come, first-serve basis. IESC is providing this information as a courtesy.

Additional Resources