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International Students and Scholars Tax Filing Obligation

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 July 15, 2020 (extended from April 15, 2020). 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. Most international students on F, J, M or Q visas are non-residents for tax purposes. All U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and non-resident aliens who have met the ‘Substantial Presence Test’ are considered residents 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.

IRS publication 519 explains the rules to determine tax residency for those who are not U.S. citizens.

Filing Tax Returns in 2020 (for the 2019 tax year)

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. However, to assist students and scholars with tax filing in 2020 for the 2019 tax year, ISSS provides a limited number of pre-paid access codes through an online tax software called Sprintax.

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.


Sprintax is a web-based software used to prepare U.S. federal and Utah state tax documents. This service is free for international students and scholars U.S. federal tax returns when using an access code. Sprintax is easy to use:

  • Create an account
  • Answer a few simple questions
  • Wait for Sprintax to review your information, complete all calculations and review applicable deductions, then
  • Wait for Sprintax to prepare your tax return
  • Finally, print your tax return and mail it to the IRS

To create an account visit the Sprintax website:

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

How to Request a Code

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

Please note: ISSS has arranged for a limited number of pre-paid access codes to use through Sprintax to help you 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 2019.

Options for Filing State Tax

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


Documents You May Need

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

  • Passport or other valid photo ID
  • US entry and exit dates for current and all past visits to the US (form I-94)
  • All tax forms, including Forms W-2, 1042-S and/or 1099 - if you received them
  • Immigration information, such as Form DS-2019 (for J visa holders) or  Form I-20 (for F visa holders)
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • If you do not have an ITIN, Sprintax still can help you!
  • 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 Terms

Term Explanation
NRA Nonresident Alien
W-2 Withholding tax

You will receive your W-2 from your employer(s) identifying how much you earned in 2019, as well as the amount of money withheld from your earnings, both Federal and State taxes. This form is necessary to complete your Federal and Utah State Tax returns.

Form 1040NR U.S. Non Resident Alien Tax Return (Instructions)
Form 1040NR-EZ

U.S. Income Tax Return for certain non-resident Aliens with no Dependents (Instructions - Short Form)

FICA Federal Social Security Tax
IRS Internal Revenue Service – the branch of the U.S. Government that collects taxes.
Tax payer You

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.

july 15, 2020

(extended from April 15, 2020)

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 F, J, M and Q visas, 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.

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 They provide 24/7 support.

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 Access 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, you cannot use the Sprintax software to file your taxes. Instead, you may choose to prepare your own return, use a commercial tax software (such as H&R Block, TurboTax, or other), 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.

Last Updated: 7/30/20