IMPORTANT: This information is provided as guidance only and is not intended to be tax advice. ISSS staff is NOT qualified to answer individual questions from international students/scholars regarding taxes nor are we legally allowed to do so. If you have additional questions please consult the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), local and state tax agencies, and tax professionals for advice and guidance regarding their individual tax situations.
The information below applies ONLY to students and scholars on F and J visas.
International Students and Scholars at Western New England University need to be aware of your U.S. tax obligations. U.S. tax laws distinguish between residents and non-residents for tax purposes. Non-residents only pay taxes on U.S. source income, while residents follow the same tax rules as U.S. citizens and pay taxes on their worldwide income. Most incoming F and J visa holders are considered non-residents (F and J students for the first five calendar years in the United States and J-1 scholars for the first two calendar years in the United States). To determine if you are a non-resident or resident for tax purposes, please click here.
*Please note that being a Resident Alien for tax purposes has NO bearing on your immigration status. It does not get you a "green card."
The information below is ONLY for non-residents for tax purposes.
**Students and Scholars should NOT use online tax software like Turbo Tax and H & R Blcok as these are designed for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. Non-Resident Aliens on F and J visas follow different tax laws.**
The U.S. tax system is organized according to the calendar year and is a pay-as-you-go system, which means that taxes may be deducted from salaries, stipends, and scholarships if these funds are from U.S. sources. In most cases, taxes are automatically withheld from your pay. Your available income after taxes, therefore, may be less than anticipated as you may be subject to federal, state and/or Social Security taxes. The amount of taxes you will pay will depend on the type of income you receive and your tax status in the United States.
Tax filing deadlines for federal and state taxes are typically April 15 of each year. Federal taxes are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state taxes are filed with a state’s revenue agency (or equivalent).
Be sure to make a photocopy for your records of all tax forms that you complete before mailing it to the IRS. It is often necessary to refer to a previous year's tax return or to produce evidence that you submitted a tax return for a previous year.
Tax treaties are agreements between the U.S. and another country that exempt earnings, scholarships, and stipends from taxes. Please consult with a tax professional to determine your U.S. tax requirements.
Filing Federal Taxes
No U.S. Source Income
If you were present in the U.S. during the previous calendar year on F or J status but had NO U.S. source income, you need to file Form 8843. Mail the completed form to "Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, Texas 73301-0215." The deadline for the form filed without a tax return is June 15, 2016, although we recommend you complete and send the form before the end of tax season on April 15, 2016. A sample Form 8843 can be viewed here.
If you were present in the U.S. during the previous calendar year on F or J status and earned U.S. source income, you should receive a W-2. You will receive the W-2 by the end of January; the W-2 details your income and any taxes withheld during the previous year. You must file a Form 8843 and a U.S. tax return before April 15, 2016 or file for an extension before that date. Typically, non-residents file a 1040NR-EZ or a 1040NR. Information on where to send this tax form, should be sent to the address included in the instructions.
Please note that non-residents CANNOT file their taxes electronically. A list of potential resources on where and how to file taxes will be sent out during tax season (January through April).
Filing State Taxes
If you were a legal resident of Massachusetts and your gross income was more than a certain amount you are required to file a Massachusetts income tax return. For Massachusetts filing requirements, please see here. If your gross income was less than the required amount and you had Massachusetts State Tax withheld, you could file a state tax return in order to get your state refund.
If you had no income and only filed Form 8843, you do NOT have to file Massachusetts taxes.
You are a resident of Massachusetts if your legal residence (not living on campus) is here and you spent more than 183 days in the state. You should file Form 1.
You are NOT a resident of Massachusetts if the above definition does not apply to you and you should file as a non-resident using Form 1-NR/PY.
Massachusetts also requires that residents submit proof of health insurance with their state tax forms. This is a Schedule HC.
For more information about MA state taxes, please visit the MA Department of Revenue.