Tax

All international students, scholars, and their dependents present in the U.S. during any part of the 2016 calendar year are responsible for filing annual tax forms.  Filing tax forms is required for all International Students in F1 student visa statuss even if you did not work or earn income in the U.S. 

Tax Filing Deadlines:

  • April 18, 2017
  • June 15, 2017 (If you had no income in 2016)

F1 students who have income in 2016 could seek assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) at San Francisco State University.

If you are an International student in F1 student visa status and had no income, you must file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition".  Social security numbers are not required to file Form 8843.  Form 8843 is not an income tax return. It is merely an informational statement required by the U.S. government for certain nonresident aliens (including the spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).

To file Form 8843, following the steps below:

Step 1

Complete the top of the Form 8843, also the "Part I General Information" and "Part III Students" section.

For questions 9 on Part III, write:

San Francisco State University (SF State)
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
415-338-1111

For questions 10 on Part III, you would write:

(Your Department's Name)
San Francisco State University (SF State)
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
415-338-department's main extension

Sign your name the 2nd page when you are done.  

Step 2

Mail it to the following address by June 15, 2017:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

OIP staff are neither qualified nor permitted to give individual tax advice. Students with complicated tax situations may wish to consult with a tax preparation service, professional tax accountant, or tax attorney who is knowledgeable about nonresident tax law.  

Income Tax Filing Resources:

  1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) at San Francisco State University provide free tax return preparation assistance.  When visiting the VITA office, please bring passport, photo ID, social security card or ITIN, W-2 forms for all jobs held in 2015, 1042-S and 1099-INT forms (if applicable), voided check or bank account and routing numbers if you prefer direct deposit, and a copy of last year's tax return (if any). In addition, the income limitation is $53,000

Free Online Resources:

The International Student and Scholar Services at The State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) has created two useful income tax online:

Non-Resident Aliens for tax purposes:  

  • Go to http://wings.buffalo.edu/intlservices/tax.html
  • Click link for “Federal (IRS) Income Tax Workshop Powerpoint” and download the presentation.  This presentation includes the information on how to complete Form 8843 and Form 1040NR-EZ

Resident Aliens for tax purposes:

Alien: Any person who is not a U.S. citizen

Non-Resident Aliens for tax purposes:  F-1 students who had been in U.S. for 5 years or less

Residents Aliens for tax purposes: F-1 students who had been in U.S. for 5 years or more

Compensation/Earnings: wages, salaries, tips

Income: wages, salaries, tips, interest, dividends, some scholarship/fellowship grants

IRS: Internal Revenue Service

Income Tax Return: statement filed (submitted) by individual taxpayer to the IRS

U.S. Federal (IRS) Income tax: Income tax imposed by Federal government

California State Income Tax: Income tax imposed by California State government

Social Security and Medicare Taxes:  Anyone who works in the U.S. is required to have a Social Security Number to be hired and for use in completing tax return forms. Social Security (FICA) and Medicare are U.S. government programs that provide benefits for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, usually for retirement. It is financed by taxes withheld from the paychecks of working people.

F-1 students who are Non-Resident Aliens are not required to pay Social Security taxes. Those in J-2 status and those in F-1 and J-1 status who have become "residents for tax purposes," must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. If Social Security and Medicare taxes are withheld in error, you can obtain a refund by following the instructions in IRS Publication 519.

International students can file Federal Income Tax by completing the Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents (Non-Resident Aliens for tax purposes), Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return (Non-Resident Aliens for tax purposes), or Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (Resident Aliens for tax purposes). 

You can use form 1040NR-EZ if all of the following conditions are met.  If you do not qualify to file Form 1040NR-EZ, you must file 1040NR:

  1. You do not claim any dependents
  2. You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return
  3. You are not a married nonresident alien from Canada, Mexico, or the Republic of Korea, a U.S. national, or an Indian student who is claiming a spousal exemption
  4. Your taxable income is less than $100,000
  5. You do not claim any itemized deductions other than for state and local income taxes
  6. Your only U.S. income was from wages, salaries, tips, refunds of state and local income taxes, and scholarship or fellowship grants. (If you had taxable interest or dividend income, you cannot use this form.  Note that bank or credit union interest is not taxable for non-residents and is not counted as income)
  7. You are not claiming any adjustments to income other than scholarship and fellowship grants excluded
  8. You are not claiming any credits
  9. You do not have any "other taxes" (other than social security and Medicare tax on tip income not reported to employer or household employment taxes)

Federal Form 1040NR-EZ and Instructions
Federal Form 1040NR and Instructions
Federal Form 1040 and Instructions

The State of California (through the Franchise Tax Board) requires an annual report of income, and assesses tax on the same type of income that is taxed by the federal government. Individuals who earned less than the minimum filing requirement do not have to file, however if any tax was withheld by the employer the individual would want to file a return in order to be refunded for the withholding. 

California State Tax Income Forms: California 540 & 540A Personal Income Tax Forms and Instructions

IRS will NEVER – not ever – send F1 students an email.  No exceptions.  And, in no case should they ever respond to an email from the IRS (or any other governmental agency) seeking personal or banking information.  IF the IRS needs to reach someone or has a question, the IRS will print a letter and then use the U.S. postal mail system. And, if there is missing information from a tax return, the original or a copy of the tax return is usually sent along with the letter requesting information, in which case, the person would re-submit the filing.  The IRS will NEVER solicit a taxpayer to try to file a form to avoid paying tax.

The State of California (through the Franchise Tax Board) requires an annual report of income, and assesses tax on the same type of income that is taxed by the federal government. Individuals who earned less than the minimum filing requirement do not have to file, however if any tax was withheld by the employer the individual would want to file a return in order to be refunded for the withholding.