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Taxes

 

2020/2021                   
Tax Deadline

        

International Students and Scholars Tax Filing Obligations

 

International students and scholars, who received income from a U.S. based source, are required to file federal tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by May 17, 2021 (extended from April 15th). You may also be required to file state tax returns as well. Sources of U.S. income may include the following: on-campus employment, graduate assistantships (TA/RA/GA), scholarships, fellowships, grants, or earnings from OPT or CPT.


For tax purposes, it is important to determine residency. An individual is either considered a non-resident for tax purposes or a resident for tax purposes. Any non-resident for U.S. tax purposes, even if he or she did not receive income from a U.S. based source, must file IRS Form 8843 each year for as long as they are a non-resident for tax purposes. This includes international scholars, students and their dependents.


How to Determine Residency for Tax Purposes:


In general, most international students and scholars on F or J visas are considered non-residents for tax purposes. International students on F-1 and J-1 visas are automatically considered non-residents for tax purposes for their first five calendar years in the U.S., while Scholars/Researchers on J-1 visas are automatically considered non-residents for tax purposes for two out of the last six calendar years in the U.S. The Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency. IRS publication 519 explains further information on residency for tax purposes.

 

Filing Tax Returns in 2021 (for the 2020 tax year) - Information for non-residents for tax purposes

 

While International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) advises students and scholars on many topics, tax preparation is not one of them. ISSS advisors are not tax professionals and cannot assist with advising on tax preparation. Similarly, the Financial Wellness Center at the University does not provide tax advising to non-residents for tax purposes (residents for tax purposes can use their services).

Because of the limited resources for non-residents for tax purposes, ISSS partners with a company called Sprintax, a company that specializes non-resident tax preparation. Sprintax is a paid service; however, ISSS has purchased access codes to help offset the cost.

 

More Information on Sprintax

 

Sprintax is a web-based software used to prepare U.S. federal and Utah state tax documents. This service is specific for international students and scholars who are considered non-residents for tax purposes. 

Sprintax is easy to use: 

Sprintax Steps

To create an account visit the Sprintax website.

You will also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on nonresident taxes. These will provide further clarity on nonresident tax and how to use Sprintax. Sprintax also offer a range of useful content on their blog to help you file your return.

Also, please review this video demo from Sprintax. Sprintax provides 24/7 live help.

 

How to Request a Discount Code

 

*Codes will be available from February 8, 2021 to May 17, 2021*

  • Fill out the Sprintax Discount Code E-form through UAtlas (found under the “International Office” tab)
  • Once you receive the discount code, please direct questions to Sprintax through the online chat system, calling at 1-866-601-5695, or emailing at hello@sprintax.com.

Please note: ISSS has purchased a limited number of discount codes that are available at a first-come, first-served basis; therefore, we would suggest requesting your code as soon as possible to ensure you can receive one. Sprintax will help to prepare your federal tax return (1040NR/1040NR-EZ), and Form 8843. If you would like to prepare a state tax return through Sprintax, you may do so for an added fee.  If you only need to file form 8843, an access code is not necessary

*This service is limited to current F-1 students and J-1 students or scholars (including those who are on Optional Practical Training or Academic Training) or those who were a student or scholar during 2020

 

Options for Filing State Taxes

 

More information on filing taxes with the State of Utah can be found here.  Please note that you may use Sprintax to file your Utah state tax return for an additional fee.  

State Tax Filing Options:

Option 1: If you worked in multiple states or would like to have your state tax return prepared for you, Sprintax can prepare state returns for a fee.

Option 2: If you would like to prepare your own Utah state tax return for free, you can do so at Utah’s Taxpayer Access Point. If you choose to prepare your own state return outside of Sprintax, make sure that in Sprintax on page “Step 6, State Taxes. We have reviewed your information and found that you need to file the following tax items” that you uncheck “Utah”. If unselected, Sprintax software should be free at checkout, after entering your Sprintax code. Here is a guide to assist you in filing your own state taxes:

  1. Go to Utah’s Taxpayer Access Point.
  2. Click on “File Current Income Tax Return” in the “For Individuals” section
  3. To fill in your information, click on the blue link next to each step of the return. A pop-up window will appear where you will fill in the required information.
  4. In step 1, it asks for your residency status. If you lived in Utah and went to school or worked here, then you are most likely considered a resident (even if you are considered a non-resident for federal filing purposes). For more in-depth information about this subject click on the “?” next to the drop down box, or go here.
  5. Continue through the steps filling out relevant information as it appears on your federal form. Calculations will be done for you as you input information.
  6. In Step 4, be sure to input your W-2 information in the link next to number 33.
  7. After completing step 5 you should be ready to submit. If you need to stop before then, you can save your return with your email address. Both buttons are in the top, right-hand corner of the screen.
  8. To re-open your return, click on the “Find a Saved Request” button in the middle of the TAP homepage where you originally logged in (Utah’s Taxpayer Access Point). You will need to enter the confirmation code they sent to your email when you saved your return.

*If at any time you have questions about your Utah return, you can call (801) 297-2200 or (801) 662-4335. You may also email questions to taxmaster@utah.gov

 

Prepare your Documents

 

Make sure that you have all applicable tax reporting documents before you start preparing your tax returns.You may need the following documents:

  • Passport 
  • I-20 (for F visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J visa holders)
  • U.S. entry and exit dates for current and all past visits to the U.S. You can search your travel history here
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) - Note: This is not needed if you had no income and the 8843 is the only form you have to file.
    • If you do not have an ITIN and need one, Sprintax still can help you!
  • All relevant tax forms, including Forms W-2, 1042-S and/or 1099 - if applicable to your situation (see under "Explanation of Forms and Terms" for more information on these documents). 
  • If you plan to use Sprintax for State Tax Return(s) preparation only, it will be necessary to have a copy of information from your Federal Tax return

 

Explanation of Forms and Terms

 

Term Explanation
NRA Nonresident Alien
Form  W-2 

This form reports how much you earned in 2020, as well as the amount of money withheld from your earnings, both Federal and State taxes. If you had more than one employer you should get a W-2 from each employer. It is issued by the end of January for the previous year. Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date address for you. 

Form 1042-S

This form is used to report:

  1. stipend, scholarship, fellowship income and travel grants (not tuition reduction or exemption)
  2. income covered by a tax treaty
  3. payment for other types of services (eg by the semester as a note-taker)

If you received this type of income, the 1042-S will be mailed to you by 15 March by the payer.

Form 1099 This form reports miscellaneous income, such as interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, or earning through freelance employment. 
Form 1040NR U.S. Non Resident Alien Tax Return
Form 1040NR-EZ

U.S. Income Tax Return for certain non-resident Aliens with no Dependents

FICA Federal Social Security Tax
IRS Internal Revenue Service – the branch of the U.S. Government that collects taxes - see there website here

 

Additional Resources

 

Government Forms

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When you start a job in the U.S., you’ll fill out a W-4 Form so your employer can estimate what income should be withheld from your wages for tax purposes. This is then paid directly to the U.S. Treasury (and/or the appropriate state agency) on your behalf. At the end of the tax year, you must verify that you’ve paid the correct amount of tax by filing your tax return.

You must file an income tax return if you want to:

  1. Claim a refund of overpaid tax, or
  2. Claim the benefit of any deductions or credits. For example, if you have no U.S. business activities but have income from real property that you choose to treat as effectively connected income, you must timely file a true and accurate return to take any allowable deductions against that income.

The terms of your visa require you to comply with all U.S laws and regulations which includes that you file an accurate income tax return. Filing tax returns will ensure that you are following laws. It is also important for potential future immigration benefits. For example, you might be required to show proof that you filed if you wish to change your visa status, or obtain permanent residency, or regain entry into the United States once you have left.

Click here for more information.

May 17, 2021 (Extended from April 15th)

The U.S. currently has tax treaty with more than 50 countries. The purpose of the tax treaty is to decrease the likelihood that the non-resident alien (NRA) will be taxed on the same income both in the U.S. and the country of tax residency. In order for The University to honor your tax treaty and reduce your tax withholding you will need to complete the appropriate forms. Please check with the University’s Tax Services and Payroll Accounting.

For a list of U.S. Income Tax Treaties, visit U.S. Income Tax Treaties – A to Z

Please note that not all are the same.

A web-based service for filing tax returns. Sprintax was created specifically for international students, scholars, teachers and researchers in the U.S. on an F or J visa. They work specifically with non-residents for tax purposes to make tax prep easy and ensure they are fully compliant with the IRS tax rules. 

Yes. Optional Practical Training (OPT) is not a separate visa status. It is a benefit of F-1 status, and while engaging in OPT, you are still an F-1 student.

Sprintax is easy to use and works as follows:

  • Create an account or log-in
  • Answer some easy-to-understand questions
  • Sprintax then reviews the details for all applicable relief and deductions
  • Sprintax finalizes the calculations and prepares tax return
  • Print tax return and mail it to IRS.

Sprintax Steps

Please contact the Sprintax team. International student or scholar advisors are not tax professionals and cannot assist with advising on tax return preparation and filing.

The Sprintax team can help via online chat system, phone call: 1-866-601-5695 or email hello@Sprintax.com. They provide 24/7 support. They also have several informative videos on their YouTube Channel

Yes. In the beginning of the application, it will ask simple questions to determine what form should be filled out. It will guide you to the correct form.

Fill out the Sprintax Discount Code E-form through UAtlas (found under the “International Office” tab)

At the end of the application process, on the ‘Review Your Order’ page, everyone will be asked to enter the code provided by the University or pay additional amount (if applicable).

Yes. Log-in to Sprintax account and click on the "Download Returns" section on the drop down menu in the top right corner.

Amendments to a tax return cannot be done through Sprintax. A taxpayer must use Form 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct a previously filed Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ. An amended tax return cannot be filed electronically under the e-file system.

A tax payer can simply go back through the steps, correct information and submit the tax return again before sending it out to the IRS. Sprintax won’t ask to pay again for the amended tax return. However, no more than twenty changes are allowed and once this limit is reached, the Sprintax account will be automatically locked to protect the privacy and the security of the data.

When all steps are complete, Sprintax will create a set of documents, i.e. your tax return. This will include instructions, your completed tax return, and a copy for you to keep. You need to print these documents, sign the bottom of each form (there should be a pen icon where to sign), and mail the signed return to the address shown on the instructions.

**Sprintax will not mail your forms to the IRS on your behalf. Please carefully follow the detailed instructions provided by Sprintax with your tax forms.

**Please note that there may be multiple tax returns you need to sign and mail. For example, you might have a Form 8843, a Form 1040NR, and a Form 40N.

If you are a Resident for tax purposes, unfortunately you cannot use the Sprintax software to file your taxes. There are resources on campus that can help residents for tax purposes. Please see more information here about VITA tax clinics held on campus. You may also choose to use another tax software that specializes in preparing taxes for residents (TurboTax, H&R Block, etc.) or hire a tax professional. 

Tax filing requirements may be different for each individual depending on various issues. Since ISSS cannot provide advising on tax related issues, we encourage that you create a Sprintax account and contact Sprintax for questions and concerns. Alternatively, you may start the application process and the software can then evaluate your answers to determine what forms should be used, if applicable.

There are resources on campus that can help residents for tax purposes. Please see more information here about VITA tax clinics held on campus. You may also use alternate tax software (TurboTax, H&R Block, etc.) that specialize in preparing taxes for residents. 

Last Updated: 6/4/21