US Taxes

Most international students and scholars are liable for taxation on any income earned in the United States (US) from the beginning of their arrival in the US. Income can include: salary, scholarships, fellowships, money earned from US mutual funds or US bank accounts.

Federal and State Taxes

Taxes for the calendar year (January 2019 – December 2019) are reported in spring of the following year. 2019 Federal and State of CA taxes must be postmarked by: April 15, 2020. Tax forms are filed with both the US government (federal) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US state(s) where income was earned. For example, if a student earned income in California (CA) and New York (NY), that student would file a federal tax form as well as separate state forms for both CA and NY. Refer to the How to File US Taxes section for more information.

“Non-Resident Alien” VS “Resident” for Tax Purposes

Being a non-resident (i.e. F/J visa status) for immigration purposes does not automatically make a student/scholar a non-resident alien (NRA) for tax purposes.

  • F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents are usually considered NRAs for tax purposes for their first five years in the US
  • J-1 scholars are also typically considered NRAs for their first two years in the US

To determine whether you are a “non-resident alien” or a “resident” for tax purposes, see IRS Publications 515 and 519. For further questions, go to the IRS web site, or call 1-800-829-1040.

Form 8843 for Non-Resident Aliens

All non-residents in F, J, M or Q status and each of their dependents must file federal form 8843 and Statement of Non-Residence every tax season, even if no income was earned.

OIS cannot advise on tax related issues. Students and scholars should consult with a qualified tax professional for individual assistance. 

Tax Exemptions

Some students and scholars may be exempt from certain taxes, depending on their country’s tax treaties with the US. Please review this section for details on such exemptions.

Tax Related Forms

Students and scholars who have earned income in the US should expect certain forms from their employer. These forms contain information needed to complete federal and state tax returns. Please keep all tax related forms in a safe place.

How to File US Taxes

There are a several ways to file US taxes. Please review the different options and select one method.