TAX INFORMATION FOR INTERNATIONALS
Every student or scholar is required to file U.S. taxes. International students and scholars must complete tax forms and file them with government bodies regardless whether they had earned income during the prior year.
The filing of taxes by April 15 of each year is required by law. If you have earned income, usually your employer will deduct the necessary taxes before you receive your paycheck. Then at the beginning of the following year in which you worked, you will be responsible to ‘file’ taxes with the Federal government, PA State government, and the local taxing district (if employed at Wilson, this is the Chambersburg Area Wage Tax office).
Your employer(s) will provide you with a ‘W-2 Statement of Earnings’ and you will use this to assist with your tax filings. You may also receive statements from your ‘sponsors’ who have provided you with scholarships which you must include in your tax filings.
WHEN DO YOU FILE TAX FORMS?
From January of each year but no later than April 15.
WHO MUST FILE?
Every international student and scholar must file.
All international students and scholars must file federal tax form 8843. In addition, F-2 and J-2 dependents must file certain tax forms. (Check with your tax advisor.)
The filing of taxes is not voluntary, but is required by U.S. law. There may be severe penalties for those who do not file taxes. If at a future date you apply for permanent residency, you may be asked to provide proof of tax filing for the years you spent in U.S. It has been recommended by some that even if you have no earned income, you should file the tax forms proving that you had no income subject to taxing.
WHAT IS NEEDED TO FILE TAXES
If you have earned income, gather together your W-2 statements. If you do or do not have earned income, gather together your 1098T Tuition Payment statements, 1042-S for tax exempt payments due to tax treaties, 1099 forms from financial institutions for earned income on financial accounts, and other statements for which you may be asked.
You will also need a Social Security number or if you have none, an ITIN number (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to complete your tax filing.
HOW TO FILE YOUR TAX RETURNS
There is not one correct method to use to file your taxes. You may choose to learn the regulations and file your taxes yourself.
You may choose to use one of the many tax preparation services in the local community or on the web.
You may engage a local service whereby volunteers study the tax regulations and assist local residents as well as international students and scholars to file taxes (normally one group meets at the American Legion on Philadelphia Avenue several doors south of the college and advertises their services).
However, internationals are subject to regulations different from U.S. citizens, and therefore be advised that some tax preparers may not know the intricacies of tax filing for internationals.
Another option that many colleges and universities recommend to file your federal and state taxes is Sprintax, a tax assistance software designed for international students and scholars. The software can be accessed at https://www.sprintax.com/.
Sprintax is familiar with tax treaties with your country and assures that your federal and state tax forms are filed correctly and legally. They will not assist you with your local tax filing, but you can go to the local tax office and they will assist you with this local tax filing, file this form yourself, or you can take your Sprintax tax copies and go to the volunteers for assistance in filing your local taxes.
Remember that if you are expecting a ‘refund’ of taxes already paid, it may take as many as six to eight weeks or more to be mailed to you. And if you are returning home at the end of spring semester, your check may not arrive before you leave the U.S. Thus it is important that you file your taxes in a timely manner. After leaving the U.S., remember to file your taxes the following year for the prior year you lived in the U.S.
Neither Wilson I.S.S.S. nor any other office or employee of Wilson College can or will provide tax advice or assistance to international students and scholars. The material presented herein is for informational purposes only.