Tax Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I fail to file my taxes?
If you owe taxes and don't file, the IRS can assess penalty and interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt. There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file taxes. Applicants for permanent residency "green cards" are frequently asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.
I am an F-1 student and I had no U.S. earned income or scholarships during the previous calendar year. Do I need to file?
Yes. You must file IRS Form 88-43. Dependent spouses in F-2 status must also file Form 8843.
I only arrived in the U.S. in December of the previous calendar year and I didn't work. Do I still have to file Form 8843?
Yes. If you were in the U.S. even one day during the previous calendar year, you must file Form 8843.
I had bank interest on my checking or savings accounts. Is that earned income and must I file another tax form?
No. Simple bank interest and interest on CD's are not considered earned income for non-resident aliens and therefore are not reportable. Your bank generally reports this interest on Form 1099. You should retain this form for your records but not mail it with your tax filing.
I only worked for a very short time during the previous calendar year, and I didn't earn very much. Do I still have to file?
Yes. If you had any U.S. source earned income or scholarship, you will need to file IRS Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR and Form 8843.
I just received my W-2 for the wages I earned during the previous calendar year. Can I file my taxes now?
Not necessarily. If you are from a country that has a tax treaty with the U.S. or you received a U.S.-based scholarship or fellowship, you may also receive Form 1042-S from payroll. This form is generally mailed about one month later than Form W-2. You will need to have both forms before you can file.
My country has a tax treaty with the U.S., and I earned below $5,000 which is the amount of wages exempt by my treaty. Do I still need to file?
Yes. You must file Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR. In the case where you earned more than the exempt amount of your treaty, you may receive both a Form W-2 and Form 1042-S or you may just receive only a Form 1042-S.
Can I deduct the cost of a computer as a valid educational expense?
Not generally. Equipment, such as a computer or educational supplies that are not required course items, are not deductible expenses.
Can students claim itemized deductions?
Yes, but they are limited. You can claim itemized deductions for state and local taxes, charitable contributions to churches or charities, casualty and theft losses, certain unreimbursed job expenses, and tax preparation fees.
Should I keep copies of my tax return and other tax forms?
Yes. Always keep copies of your tax return, W-2, 10420S, 1099 bank interest statements, and any other pertinent forms as proof that you have filed. The IRS can audit individual returns for up to three years following the filing deadline, and your tax records are essential in proving your case.
What is the deadline for filing my taxes?
If you are filing Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR, the deadline to file is April 15. If you are filing Form 8843 only, the deadline to file is June 15.
If I owe tax, to whom do I make the check payable?
If you owe taxes, make checks payable to United States Treasury. Make sure that your Social Security number is on the check and that in the memo section your write, "For 200_ income taxes" (replace "200_" with the applicable tax year).
Where do I mail my tax return?
Forms 1040NR-EZ, 1040NR, and Form 8843 should be mailed to:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Philadelphia, PA 19255
I'm unable to file by the deadline. What do I do?
File Form 4868, "Extension of Time to File," which extends the deadline to file until August 15. If you owe any taxes you must still mail your estimated tax payment by April 15 or you will be assessed penalty and interest as of April 15 on any payment owed.
I need tax forms or additional help or information. Where can I get the necessary forms or assistance?
- Walk-in service is free at the Customer Service Division of the Dayton IRS, 200 W. Second Street (Monday–Friday, 8a.m.–4p.m.).
- On campus, contact Mr. Jon Purple with tax questions.
- For questions about refund checks, call 1-800-829-4477.
- For problem resolution, call the Technical Services Division of the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
- To download tax forms and publications, go to the IRS website.
I am leaving the country before I can file my taxes. What should I do?
Make sure the payroll office has your foreign address so that your Form W-2 and/or Form 1042-S can be mailed to you. Download the appropriate forms and instructions and file your U.S. taxes from abroad. Save copies of all forms submitted for your records. Form instructions can be downloaded from www.irs.ustreas.gov/formspubs/index.html.
My employer withheld Social Security and Medicare taxes from my salary. Can I get this refunded?
Yes. F-1 visa holders are not subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes as long as they are considered a "non-resident alien" for tax purposes. (IRS Publication 519, page 39 and 40). Refund of these taxes may be requested from your employer. If your employer is unable to refund these taxes, you may file IRS Form 843 and Form 8316 for a refund from the IRS.
My address in Cedarville has changed since I began working or I am on Curricular Practical Training and now living in another city. How do I notify payroll of my address change so that I will receive my W-2 and/or 1040-S?
Send an email to the contacts below with your name, Social Security number, and new address.
I worked or attended a university in another state and paid state taxes. How do I report this on my federal tax return? Am I required to file a state tax return?
You may claim an itemized deduction on Form 1040NR-EZ (line 11) or Form 1040NR (line 35) for any state taxes withheld. You may also be required to file a state income tax return in addition to the Federal Income Tax Return.