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U.S. Tax Information for Scholars & Interns

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What is Federal and State Income Tax?

  • Federal and state taxes may be withheld from your paychecks from income or scholarships from sources within the U.S.
  • There is a possibility to get a refund if you paid too much tax in payroll deductions
  • The U.S. government (IRS) requires you to submit a federal tax return form if you earned any money or received a scholarship in the previous calendar year The IRS requires most international scholars to file a Form 8843 regardless of whether they are filing a tax return
  • The State of California Franchise Tax Board has a separate filing process for tax returns
  • Tax returns are usually due by April 15th for the previous year

Are J-1 Scholars residents or non-residents for tax purposes in the U.S.?

Please refer to the Sprintax Research Scholar Tax Guide to learn about the substantial presence test. If you are exempt from the substantial presence test, then you file non-immigrant tax forms. If you are not exempt, you file regular tax forms, the same as U.S. citizens. 

Tax Preparation Services

W-2 Form

If you worked in the U.S. in the previous year, you should be looking for a Form W-2 from your employer to arrive sometime in January or February. If you moved, contact the payroll office of your employer(s) or school(s) and give them your current mailing address right away.

Forms Filed with the IRS

Form 8843

Form 8843 is required for everyone who does not meet the Substantial Presence Test who was in the U.S. the previous year regardless of whether you earned money or received a scholarship

Form 8843 provides proof that you should not be considered a resident for tax purposes for the past tax year. If you are not considered a resident for tax purposes you are responsible to pay less income tax. This is important if you plan to be here more than a couple of years over the next few years
If you are filing a tax return, you will submit the 8843 along with your Federal Tax return (1040-NR or 1040-NR-EZ)
If you don't have to submit a tax return and do NOT qualify as a resident for tax purposes, then just submit the 8843 to the address on page 3 of the instructions
Form 8843 with Instructions

Non-Resident Federal Income Tax Form

This form is filed if you made money or received a scholarship from an organization in the U.S. 
Form 1040-NR Tax Return
Form 1040-NR Instructions

California State Income Tax Form

Review State of California Franchise Tax Board Nonresident or Part-Year Resident Booklet for instructions and forms

Filing Dates and Where to Mail Forms

  • Check your form for the filing date. The date is usually on or around April 15th.
  • Mail your tax return to the address on each form. Send your 8843 with your Federal tax form 1040NR or 1040NR EZ. If you are not filing a tax return, you submit the form 8843 to the address on the instructions sheet.
  • Retain photocopies of all completed tax return forms and any documents submitted.
  • Do NOT bring your forms to the International Center. We are not tax experts and we cannot submit your forms for you.

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