Ask an OISS Advisor: Filing Taxes

I got an e-mail about filing taxes and I am completely lost…what can I do?
by Jason Marquart, Team Leader

ANSWER: International students often say that income taxes are one of the most confusing aspects about living in the United States.  The truth is that income taxes are not that complicated if you know the basics.  If you are confused about income taxes, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Every international student must complete and file a tax form!

It is true that every international student or scholar must complete and file a tax form.  This is true even if you did not earn income.  In the United States we file our taxes at the end of each calendar year, so this means that anyone who was in the US in 2016, even if just for a few days, must now complete and file a tax form.  This is why the relevant tax forms now all say 2016.

The good news is that it is easy to get started in determining which Federal tax forms you must file.  To get started, simply log in to the the GLACIER Tax Prep software and follow the prompts.

GLACIER will help you determine which forms you must complete and file

The GLACIER Tax Prep software is seriously the best way to get started.  The software will ask a few questions that will help you determine which forms to complete.  Follow the steps as directed.

If you are reading this and have never heard of GLACIER Tax Prep, you can request more information through our online request form.

If you earned income, you must also file a state tax return

If you earned income in 2016, you must also file a State of Missouri tax return.  After you complete the federal taxes with Glacier, the software will offer you the option of using Sprintax to file the Missouri taxes.  This option does come with a small fee ($25-35 in most cases), but in terms of time and money, it is probably well worth the cost.

The deadline to file is April 18, 2017

The deadline to file the 2016 tax returns is April 18, 2017.  If you have not yet filed your tax forms, you should get started as soon as possible.

By the way, if you were in the United States in 2015 or previous years and did not file taxes, it is not too late to file forms for previous years, but you may want to talk to a tax professional.

If you are a resident alien for tax purposes

If you have been in the United States for a while, you may have become a “resident alien for tax purposes.”  GLACIER will let you know if this is the case; however, you will not be able to use GLACIER to file your taxes.  Do not fret!  You can use one of the e-file options recommended by the Internal Revenue Service.

You may also be eligible for assistance from a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center.  Hiring a tax professional may also be a good option, especially if you have complicated tax questions.  For more information about using a VITA center or hiring a tax professional, go to: https://oiss.wustl.edu/payroll-taxes/filing-tax-returns/

 


Send us your questions! “Ask an OISS Advisor” is a regular feature in the International Voice where OISS advisors answer questions that have been submitted by International Students and Scholars from Washington University. This means that we need your help! If you have a question that you would like to have answered in this column, please send it to us. It might be a question for which you don’t know the answer or it may be a particular issue that you have noticed causes confusion for many other international students. If you’re not sure if it’s a good question for this feature, go ahead and send it in, and we will decide. Please send your questions to the editor of the International Voice at: mark.bass@wustl.edu . Indicate if you prefer for your question to be anonymous.

 

 

 

Ideas, comments, suggestions for the newsletter are welcome! Contact the editor, Mark Bass, at: mark.bass@wustl.edu