Filing Taxes

All international students present in the U.S.A. must file an income tax form each year regardless of whether you were employed in the U.S. or not. You will need to obtain the appropriate tax return forms online or at the campus or local libraries. ISSS advisors are not tax experts and are legally unable to provide tax advice for international students. However, we have prepared the following list of information, sites, and resources that you may find helpful:

Tax Filing Deadlines

  • April 15th of each year (April 18th in 2016)

Basic Tax Vocabulary

Adapted from the IRS Understanding Taxes Glossary:

  • IRS: Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. federal agency responsible for tax collection
  • Alien: Any person who is not a U.S. citizen
  • Non-Resident Alien for Tax Purposes: Generally, aliens that do not meet the "substantial presence test"
  • Resident Alien for Tax Purposes: Generally, aliens who meet one of the two criteria in the "substantial presence test"
  • Subsantial Presence Test: Defined in detail here by the IRS.
  • Compensation/Earnings: Wages, salaries, tips, etc.
  • Income: Wages, salaries, tips, commissions, interest, dividends, some scholarship/fellowship grants
  • Exemptions: Amount taxpayers can claim for themselves, their spouses, and eligible dependents. There are two types of exemptions-personal and dependency. Each exemption reduces the income subject to tax.
  • Refund: Money owed to taxpayers when their total tax payments are greater than the total tax. Refunds are received from the government.
  • Income Tax Return: Statement filed (submitted) by an individual taxpayer to IRS
  • U.S. Federal Income Tax: Income tax imposed by U.S. federal government
  • California Income Tax: Income tax imposed by California state government
  • Social Security & Medicare Taxes: Social Security (FICA) and Medicare are U.S. government programs that provide benefits to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, generally for retirement. The programs are financed through paychecks of working individuals. Students that are classified as Non-Resident for tax purposes are not required to pay into Social Security or Medicare. Those in J-2 status may be required to pay into Social Security, as are students who have become classified as Resident for tax purposes.

Helpful Tax Sites & Resources

  • Tax Preparation Software:
    • GLACIER is a company that assists international students with federal tax filing. UCSC has a license with GLACIER.
    • Sprintax is a company that assists international students with both federal and state tax filing. Although UCSC does not have a contract with Sprintax, we have arranged for a $3 discount access for online state tax preparation Sprintax.

Resident Aliens

Resident Aliens with a tax treaty exemption to be claimed should:

·File as a Resident Alien using Form 1040 (not Form 1040A nor Form 1040-EZ);

·Complete all the income lines as applicable and including any amounts that are tax treaty exempt;

·On Line 21 (Other Income), enter a negative number for the total amount of tax treaty exemption so that when Line 22 is totaled, the tax treaty exempt amount will in effect be subtracted;

·In the box on Line 21, write “U.S.-{country} tax treaty, Article {article number}”;

·Attach Page 5 of Form 1040-NR to the back of Form 1040. On Page 5, write the name, SSN and “Resident Alien with Tax Treaty Exemption” written at the top and ONLY question L completed;

·IF the person received a Form 1042-S, attach Copy C to the front bottom section of Form 1040;

Mail the tax return and Page 5 of Form 1040NR to:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service

Austin, TX 73301-0215, if no tax due or

Internal Revenue Service

P.O. Box 1303

Charlotte, NC 28201-1303, if a payment is due,