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International Student and Scholar Services

Employment

Taxes

All non-resident students in the United States who received income in the previous year (including those on post-completion work authorizations) must file a tax return. Non-resident international students who did not work must file a Form 8843. Your tax return or form 8843 must be filed by April 15th. Failure to file a tax return by the due date is a federal and state offense and can lead to criminal action against you.

Federal tax filing overview video

Federal tax webinar by Sprintax

IF YOU EARNED INCOME: FILE AN INCOME TAX RETURN

Anyone residing within the United States must pay taxes to the state and federal government, and the process is completed through an agency called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). When someone earns money a portion of it is automatically deducted and sent directly to the government. The purpose of filing your tax return is to report all your sources of income to the government, what taxes you already paid, and what you still owe. 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 must pay the difference.

How to File a Tax Return

International Student & Scholar Services has arranged free access to Sprintax Tax Preparation for your federal tax returns. Sprintax will guide you through the federal tax preparation process, arrange the necessary documents and check if you’re due a tax refund. If you need to file a state tax return, Sprintax can do this at your own cost.  

Sprintax was used by over 165,000 international students and scholars last year, and the average Federal refund received by eligible students was over $1,087.

All you need to do is:

  1. Email isss@du.edu to get a unique code to enter on your Sprintax order.
  2. Complete the online questionnaire.
  3. Enter your unique code in the box on the ‘Review your order’ page.
  4. Sprintax will prepare your federal tax return. Sprintax can prepare your state tax return, if they are required, at your own cost.

Once you complete the preparation process in the Sprintax software, you must print, sign and mail your documents to the IRS. If you have any questions, the Sprintax team will be happy to help via their 24/7 live chat facility.

If you want to file state tax returns yourself, you can find the required forms and instructions at the Colorado Department of Revenue's website. ISSS staff are not tax professionals and we cannot help you file your taxes if you choose not to use Sprintax's state tax services. 

 

 How to File a Tax Return with Sprintax

 

Please Note: The information is offered as a courtesy only to provide assistance in tax preparation. University of Denver has no control over the Sprintax services and expressly disclaims all responsibility for any problems that may arise with regard to the use of the Sprintax services. Reference to Sprintax is not an endorsement or approval by the University of Denver. It is your responsibility to assess Sprintax as suitable for your needs and to make sure that you obtain any information which may be relevant to deciding to utilize Sprintax. You understand that when you utilize Sprintax, you do so entirely at your option and risk.

Sprintax Updates on Stimulus Payment

  1. Summary of those eligible for the Economic Impact Payment:

  • US Residents for tax purposes
  • Adjusted Gross Income up to $75,000 and $99,000 (increasing for head of household and married filing jointly)
  • Valid social security number
  • Not claimed as dependent on someone else's return

For more information, visit the IRS Economic Impact Payment pages: Economic Impact Payments and Economic Impact Payment Information Center

2. Key area of confusion for international students and scholars: Resident vs. Nonresident for tax purposes

  • Based on IRS Substantial Presence Rule – Most international students and scholars in the US are nonresidents in the US for tax purposes. More Information, see link: Substantial Presence Test
  • Small number may be here long enough to be considered tax residents by IRS.

3. Misfiling and filing as a resident by mistake

  • Significant number of international students and scholars make the mistake as filing as a resident for tax purposes.
  • Most tax services (Turbotax, H&R Block, Tax Act, local CPA's etc – are designed to help residents – not nonresidents – not international students and scholars)
  • Filing incorrectly means you are claiming benefits and deductions you are not entitled to.
  • TurboTax specifically say they cannot help nonresidents

 TurboTaxFAQ

**DO NOT USE A RESIDENT TAX RETURN PREPARATION SERVICE UNLESS YOU ARE CERTAIN THAT YOU ARE A RESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES 

4. Recommended next steps

  •  If you have received the Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check)
    • Check what tax return you prepared in 2018 or 2019
    • Was it a 1040 (for residents) or a 1040NR (for nonresidents)?
  • If it was a 1040 you filed as a resident for that year.
  • If you filed as a resident and Sprintax confirms you are a resident – no further action required at this moment.
  • HOWEVER – If Sprintax finds that you are a nonresident then you should have filed as a nonresident – you need to prepare and send an amended tax return (1040X) to the IRS to correct this.
  • Sprintax will help you prepare your amended return, for any year

5. Future possible implications

  • Filing an incorrect tax return may cause fees and penalties to accrue with the IRS.
  • Incorrect tax filing will also impact a change of visa status or a future visa application – so please ensure now that you have prepared your taxes correctly for 2020 and previous years.

Please Note: The information is offered as a courtesy only to provide assistance in tax preparation. University of Denver has no control over the Sprintax services and expressly disclaims all responsibility for any problems that may arise with regard to the use of the Sprintax services. Reference to Sprintax is not an endorsement or approval by the University of Denver. It is your responsibility to assess Sprintax as suitable for your needs and to make sure that you obtain any information which may be relevant to deciding to utilize Sprintax. You understand that when you utilize Sprintax, you do so entirely at your option and risk.

IF YOU DID NOT EARN INCOME: FILE FORM 8843

Form 8843 is an informational statement required by the U.S. government. It demonstrates that you are a non-resident for tax purposes. All F-1 and J-1 visitors and their dependents in F-2 or J-2 status must submit Form 8843. For any non-resident who did not earn income in the previous year, Form 8843 does not need to be submitted with a tax return.

How to File Form 8843
  1. Download IRS Form 8843
  2. Fill in your name exactly as it appears on your passport
  3. For the box requesting your U.S. taxpayer identification number, write in your Social Security (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you do not have either one of these, leave it blank.

Part I: General Information (Required for everyone completing Form 8843)

• 1a: Enter the visa status (i.e. F-1, J-2, H-1B, etc.) that you used to enter the U.S. most recently, and the date you entered (see I-94 record).

• 1b: Your “current nonimmigrant status” as of December 31st of the year you are filing for (e.g., F-1). This should be the same as the information you entered for 1a. If you changed visa status while in the U.S. (e.g. you entered the U.S. in H-1B status and, without leaving, changed to F-1), enter your current non-immigrant status (F or J) and the date that your change of status was approved (see I-797 Approval Notice form). 

• 4a: Count the number of days you were physically present in the U.S. in each of the last 3 calendar years. Make sure to enter the actual number of days you were present. Exclude days when you were outside of the U.S.

• 4b: Substantial Presence Test: Enter the number of days you were present in the U.S. during the tax year. This should be the same number that you entered in the first blank on 4a.

Part II: Teachers and Trainees ( Required for J-1 Research Scholars, Short-Term Scholars, Professors and Specialists ONLY. See 5 on your DS-2019 for category. Do not fill out if you are a J-1 or F-1 Student)

• 5: Enter: The University of Denver, 2199 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208, (303) 871-2000

• 6 – 8: Answer each question according to your individual situation.

Part III: Students (Required for F-1 and J-1 Students and F-2/J-2 dependents)

• 9: Enter: The University of Denver, 2199 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208, (303) 871-2000

o F-2/J-2 Dependents write: Spouse/Dependent of student attending The University of Denver, 2199 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208, (303) 871-2000

• 10: Enter the name and contact information of the chair of your academic department. If you do not know who this is, you can look it up in DU's Department Directory.

o F-2/J-2 Dependents write: Spouse/Dependent of student attending The University of Denver, 2199 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208, (303) 871-2000

• 11 – 14: Answer each question according to your individual situation.

Part IV: Professional Athletes

Leave all spaces blank. This does not apply to those present in the U.S. in F or J non-immigrant status.

Part V: Individuals With a Medical Condition or Medical Problem

Leave all spaces blank. This does not apply to those present in the U.S. in F or J non-immigrant status.

Mailing Instructions

Double check that you have completed all required fields. Make a copy or scan for your records. You must mail each individual 8843 to the address below. Even if you have dependents, everyone must submit their own Form 8843 in a separate envelope. Do not include any other forms in your envelope.

Mail the completed form to:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Austin, TX 73301-0215

TYPES OF U.S. TAXES

SOCIAL SECURITY (F.I.C.A.)
Social Security taxes are used to support public health and retirement benefits. In general, you are exempt from paying Social Security taxes during your first five years in the United States if you are on in F-1 or J-1 status and you continue to declare yourself a non-resident for tax purposes.

INCOME TAX
All income earned in the United States, including graduate assistantships, is subject to taxation by the federal and state government. Unless you qualify for an exemption under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your employer is required by law to withhold income tax from your paycheck.

INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (ITIN)

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (the U.S. federal tax authority). It can only be issued to individuals who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN) but need to file a federal tax return. ITIN numbers expire if they are not used for three years.

Instructions to apply for ITIN

Additional Resources