value in the nation among public colleges & universities (Consumers Digest 2015)
Income Tax Issues
Who is subject to taxation?
- ALL international students must file either the 1040NR or 8843.(*see note for 1040NR and 8843) Failure to file tax return correctly may danger a student's immigration status.
If your income is more than $3,950 – you file 1040NR
If your income is less than $3,950 – you file 8843
Non-residents are subject to taxation on U.S. source income. Income can include compensation for services, scholarships, prizes and awards, honorarium payments, and reimbursement of expenses. (**see exception for Indian students)
The rules on scholarships are as follows – it is not taxable if:
The taxpayer is seeking a degree and:
- The money is used for tuition, books, etc. (NOT for lodging and meals)
- The taxpayer is not expected to render any service in return. (Note: “Scholarship hours” worked by students at Truman ARE taxable).
Scholarships in excess of tuition and books are taxable income. In other words:
- Scholarship > Tuition, books, etc. – The excess scholarship is taxable
- Scholarship < Tuition, books, etc. – No tax on scholarship
U.S. tax law requires all individuals on an F or J visa who have US income over $3,950 annually to file income tax returns on the form 1040NR each year. 1040 NR can only be mailed to the IRS and cannot be e-filed online. Free on-line software is not designed to handle the special rules for international students; therefore, using this will give you the wrong tax liability which could cause you problems later.
** Note that there are special rules provided by tax treaties, but the rules vary from country to country. International students do not receive the standard deduction that U.S. citizens receive, unless the student is from India, where the tax treaty specifies that Indian students receive the standard deduction ($6,200 in 2014)
However, depending on the tax treaty that the US has with your country you may be exempt from tax on scholarship see the last part of this document.
EXAMPLES – Se-In is from South Korea and has a salary of $7,000 from a summer internship and a scholarship of $10,000 and would pay tuition of $8,000. She is unmarried with no dependents. All persons (whether international or American) are allowed to earn $3,950 before paying tax. Referring to the table at the end of this document, we see that under the South Korean/US tax treaty $2,000 of her salary is tax-exempt and all of her scholarship is exempt. Thus, she will have to pay tax on only $1,050 ($7,000 minus her personal exemption ($3,950) minus her treaty provision ($2,000)).
Anh is from Vietnam and has the same income that Se-in, however, referring to the treaty table at the end of this document, the US does not have a tax treaty with Vietnam; therefore, she will be taxed on $3,050 of her salary (after her personal exemption of $3,950 – available to everybody) plus $2,000 of her scholarship (the amount above her tuition).
When do I file my annual tax return?
Income tax returns for the previous calendar year are due by April 15.
Free Income tax assistance
Tax returns are fairly complex and online tax programs generally do not have free 1040NR filing, therefore, doing tax returns yourself is not the best option.
Every spring semester, Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) (an on-campus association of accounting students) offers FREE income tax preparation assistance by the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This is the single best resource international students have to fulfill the annual tax filing requirements. IRS certified volunteers will be able to help you file federal return 1040NR or form 8843 and state return MO-1040, claim your salary or scholarship exemptions, and get back your FICA taxes if the employers mistakenly withheld them. You are strongly encouraged to utilize this free service every year.
The schedule for VITA sessions in spring 2015 is as follows (or can be found at Beta Alpha Psi’s website):
Location: Truman State University Violette Hall 1424.
- Saturday, February 7, 2015, 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
- Saturday, February 14, 2015, 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
- Saturday, February 21, 2015, 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
- Saturday, February 28, 2015, 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
- Saturday, March 21, 2015, 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
What to bring to VITA
- Photo ID (Truman ID is sufficient)
- Income Forms (such as a W-2 for wages ask employer, 1099 for investment income, 1098-T for scholarship available on TruView, etc.)
- Bank routing number and account number for direct deposit
- A copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns if available
Exemptions from FICA Taxes
- Lawfully employed F-1 and J-1 visa holders with non-resident tax status are not subject to Social Security and Medicare (FICA) tax withholding.
- Certification of all exemptions from FICA taxes must be made with your employer.
- To prove to your employer that you are not subject to FICA – direct them to Publication 519. This exemption ends after five calendar years when an individual on a student visa meets the substantial presence test by being physically present in the United States for more than 182 days in the sixth calendar year.
Note: If Social Security tax has been withheld in error from your wages, you should first request a refund from your employer. If you are unable to get a refund from your employer, you will need to file Form 843 and Form 8316 to request a refund.
The ISAO staff cannot assist with tax preparation.
The ISAO staff does not assist in the completion of personal income tax forms for international students or staff. We urge each of you to utilize the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service provided by Beta Alpha Psi in the spring semester. We especially urge you to contact a competent tax consultant before responding to the IRS if you receive an IRS letter declaring that you have a tax liability. The IRS publishes information booklets which are available through the IRS public service system ( or http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/).
- 519 U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
- 901 U.S. Tax Treaties
- 8843 Statement for Exempt Individuals (with instructions)
- 1040NR Non-Resident Alien Income Tax Return (with instructions)
- 1040NREZ U.S. Non-Resident Alien Income Tax Return (with instructions)
Forms for State of Missouri Tax Returns can be found at http://dor.mo.gov/.
Please check the Beta Alpha Psi website (http://bap.truman.edu/) for information or dates of free income tax preparation.
Tax Treatment of International Students (Pub 901)
|Bangladesh||2 years||$8,000||No limit||21|
|China, People’s Republic of China||No limit||$5,000||No Limit||Does not apply to Hong Kong||20|
|Cyprus||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||21|
|Czech Republic||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||21|
|Egypt||5 years||$3,000||No Limit||23|
|Estonia||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||20|
|France||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||21|
|Germany||4 years||$9,000||No Limit||20|
|Iceland||5 years||$9,000||No Limit||19|
|Indonesia||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||19|
|Israel||5 years||$3,000||No Limit||24|
|Kazakhstan||5 years||N/A||No Limit||19|
|Korea, South||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||21|
|Latvia||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||20|
|Lithuania||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||20|
|Morocco||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||18|
|Netherlands||No Limit- Sal3 yr- Schol||$2,000||No Limit||22|
|Norway||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||16|
|Pakistan||No limit||$5,000||No Limit||13|
|Philippines||5 years||$3,000||No Limit||22|
|Poland||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||18|
|Portugal||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||23|
|Romania||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||20|
|Russia||5 years||N/A||No Limit||18|
|Slovak Republic||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||21|
|Slovenia||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||Can apply to graduate school||20|
|Spain||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||22|
|Thailand||5 years||$3,000||No Limit||22|
|Trinidad & Tobago||5 years||$2,000||No Limit||19|
|Tunisia||5 years||$4,000||No Limit||20|
|Venezuela||5 years||$5,000||No Limit||Can apply to graduate school||21|
"The atmosphere at Truman is warm. People here are friendly and are willing to help you whenever you need it. Also, there are plenty of organizations available to help international students to make new friends, understand new cultures, and enjoy life in America."
– Anh Duc M., Mathematics & Economics, Vietnam