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Office of International Studies and Programs

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Email: intlprog@cwu.edu
Phone: +1-509-963-3612
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Central Washington University
Office of International Studies and Programs
Hebeler Hall 102
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7408

Taxes

U.S. federal Income Taxes:

If you receive money earned in the U.S. or a scholarship from a U.S. school, this money may be 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 or a Form 8843 for each year of your stay. Understanding the US tax system and filing a tax return is an overwhelming and confusing experience for any student.

Most international students should not use the most commonly advertised tax preparation services, because they do not account for nonresident tax situations.

For students who work on campus, we recommend that you take advantage of Glacier Tax Prep, which is free through your Glacier account and considers nonresident tax situations.

If you do not work on campus, you can prepare your tax return or Form 8843 through Sprintax, which considers nonresident tax situations.

Sprintax is an independent tax services provider that charges fees for its services. It does not have a relationship with Central Washington University, but it and Glacier are the only tax preparation services we know of that account for nonresident tax circumstances.

If you do not have US income, you need only file a Form 8843. If you want to avoid tax service provider charges, you can complete your Form 8843 yourself. International Student & Scholar Services will send announcements through Canvas with more information before the filing deadlines for each form.

If either Sprintax or Glacier Tax Prep determine that you were resident for tax purposes during the year for which you were filing, you can use resident tax preparation services. Most students in this situation can use a free file option.

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.

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.

Sprintax maintains a blog and a YouTube channel that can help answer some of your tax questions.

Other forms related to U.S. income taxes:

W-4 The form you fill out when you start a job in the U.S.
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 may 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.
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 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.

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