U.S. federal Income Taxes:
If you receive money earned in the U.S. or a scholarship/tuition waiver from a U.S. school, this money is considered U.S. income and is subject to federal income tax by the U.S. government. The Internal Revue Service (IRS) is the federal agency, which is responsible for federal income taxes.
The tax year is from January 1 - December 31st each year. Some of this earned U.S. income may be non-taxable (exempt) by tax treaties the U.S. has established with many countries. Tax treaties are specific to each of these tax treaty agreements. The effect of these treaties is to reduce the amount of income that is considered taxable by the U.S. government.
All international students must file one U.S. tax form. The form 8843 indicates to the U.S. federal government that you are an international student and considered a non-resident of the U.S. for income tax purposes. This is important if you also may have earned income from outside the U.S. during the tax year. If you do not file this form, the out-of-country income may be taxable.
Filing your student tax return
As an international student or scholars in the US you are obligated to file a US tax return during your stay. Understanding the US tax system and filing a tax return is an overwhelming and confusing experience for any student.
That’s why, to make things easier for you, Central Washington University has teamed up with Sprintax - an online tool specifically designed for international students and scholars which helps you prepare your federal and state return in less than 20 minutes!
For students who work on campus, we recommend that you take advantage of Glacier Tax Prep through your Glacier account, which offers many of the same benefits, but is limited to CWU international employees.
Why should you file a tax return?
- The most important reason to file a return is that it is a legal requirement of the United States. Failing to file may impact the status of your current visa and make future US visa applications difficult.
- Avoid penalties – If you miss the April 18th deadline you may face late filing penalties. Filing prior to this date prevents this, so the earlier you file, the better.
- You may be owed a tax refund – most international students filing a tax return are due a tax refund for overpaid tax. The average refund is $800 - $1000. It’s worth checking if you are due a refund.
Get started with Sprintax
1) Register here
2) Complete each section
3) Sprintax will prepare your tax return
4) It will be available for download in your online account.
Other forms related to U.S. income taxes:
W-4 The form you fill out when you accept on campus employment.
W-2 The form will be sent to you by your employer(s) sometime in the January of the year following the previous January 1 -December 31st income tax year. It shows how much money you earned in each positiion you held during the tax year, how much tax money was withheld for the federal government income tax, and how much Social Security tax, if any, was withheld. Remember, non-residents are not subject to Social Security withholding, so if money was withheld, you should talk to your employer about getting it back.1099-INT This form will be sent to you by your bank. It shows the amount of interest income you earned last year. While U.S. residents are taxed for this income, non-residents are not subject to taxes on interest. Please bring this form with you to the tax workshop because you may need to indicate the interest earned on your tax form.1042-S This form will, in most cases, be sent to you by CWU if you received a scholarship or graduate assistantship. If you received a tuition waiver you will receive a letter from ISS. The scholarship or waiver which went for tuition or books is non-taxable income. However, if your scholarship included money for room and board, this income is taxable and must be reported.
1040NR or 1040NR-EZ You will need one of these forms to file a federal tax return. The latter is a simplified version of the 1040NR and will be what most of you will use.