Every foreign national must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and a state tax return with the Missouri Department of Revenue regardless of whether or not income was received. What type of return should be filed is dependent upon whether or not income was received.
Note that the deadline for filing most tax returns is April 15 (if this date falls on a weekend, the deadline may be extended).
The tax year you are reporting on is for the previous calendar year (January 1 – December 31.)
When the phrase “tax return” or “return” is used, it is referring to the actual tax return (1040NR, 1040NR EZ) and accompanying forms (Form 8843).
The staff of the Office for International Students and Scholars is not trained in tax laws and cannot give tax advice or assist with the filing of your return and does not endorse any listed services. We are providing this information to you to help you meet the requirement of filing your tax return.
Beware of scams!
Remember that the Internal Revenue Service will never contact you via email.
Any communication from someone who claims to be the IRS should not be opened, as it likely contains some sort of virus or malware. Never provide your Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to anyone via an email.
Learn more about avoiding scams.
End-of-Year Documents You May Receive
The IRS requires employers to report wage and salary information for employees on Form W-2. Your W-2 also reports the amount of federal, state and other taxes withheld from your paycheck. The information on your W-2 is extremely important when preparing your tax return. W-2 forms will be mailed mid to late January.
Form 1042-S is used to report income paid to a nonresident, such as payments to an employee exempt under a tax treaty and payments for scholarship or fellowship grants. A nonresident employee could potentially receive both a Form 1042-S and Form W-2 or only a Form W-2 if they did not claim a treaty allowance.
Determine Which Form to Expect
|Form||Purpose of Form||When To Expect|
|1095-C||This is a new health insurance tax form which shows post-doctoral scholars and associates, and dependents if applicable, had minimum essential coverage for the prior year||End of January|
|1095-B||This is a new health insurance tax form which shows students, and dependents if applicable, had minimum essential coverage for the prior year||End of February|
|W-2||For taxable income not covered by a tax treaty||Beginning of February|
|1042-S||For tuition covered under a tax treaty||Mid March|
|1042-S||Issued for employment income covered under a tax treaty||Mid March|
|1042-S||Issued for all nonresident aliens receiving a stipend payment||Mid March|
Who to Call With Questions
If your employer was Washington University in St. Louis, you can address questions to the WashU Payroll Office.
If your employer was not WashU and you have questions about your forms, you should contact your employer.
If you are a nonresident alien and did not have any income in the last calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) you need to file Form 8843.
Though Form 8843 is not a tax return, when the OISS documentation cites “tax return” or “return,” we are referring to the actual tax return and accompanying forms, such as Form 8843.
Do I have to file an 8843?
Form 8843 is an informational statement required by the U.S. government for all nonresident aliens who entered the U.S. with visa types F, J, M, Q. Please be aware this includes dependents.
If you had no earnings or other monetary activity to report to the IRS, this form is the only form you must file. Completed forms should be sent to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
Please be aware that each individual who files only Form 8843 must not send it with anyone else’s form. This means the forms for your spouse and child(ren) would each go in their own envelopes.
If you are also required to file an income tax return to report income, stipend or other monetary activity, you should attach Form 8843 to the back.
If you are filing Form 8843 for an F-2 or J-2 dependent that is also claimed as a dependent on a tax return, attach the form(s) to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.
Please note that the GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) program may be used for completing Form 8843 for eligible individuals.
If you are not eligible for GTP, visit the IRS website for instructions on completing Form 8843 as well as the form itself.
GLACIER Tax Prep for Nonresident returns
GTP is a Web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and their dependents who are nonresident aliens. Some features of GTP include:
- Verifying each type of payment for any applicable income tax treaty exemptions
- Completing the correct U.S. income tax return – either Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ
- Preparing any additional statements or attachments, as applicable – Form 2106, Form 8843, Schedule C, and/or Scholarship/Fellowship Grant statement
- Printing the tax return and all attachments (please note, the IRS does not allow nonresident aliens to file a tax return electronically)
WashU makes this program available at no cost to WashU sponsored students and scholars.
Access codes will be sent to WashU sponsored students and scholars by mid-February.
Note the email is coming directly from the vendor (Arctic International), so check your inbox and spam folders for an email from glaciertax.com.
If you have not received a code by March 1, and believe you should have, or if you lost your code, you may complete the GLACIER Access Code Request Form.
Optional State Tax Return Assistance
After you have finished the federal tax return, if you are also required to file a state tax return, you will have the opportunity to leave GTP and “jump over” to Sprintax to have assistance in the preparation of your state tax return for a fee.
Sprintax is an online tax preparation software product that can assist in the preparation of state tax returns for all states in which a tax return is required.
It’s important to note that Arctic International LLC and Sprintax are two separate legal entities with separate responsibilities: Arctic International LLC provides GTP to prepare a FEDERAL tax return; Sprintax prepares a STATE tax return. Neither is responsible for the other’s activities.
If you choose not to use Sprintax, check the Missouri Return section below for additional filing assistance options.
Resident Alien for Tax Purposes
If you have attempted to use GTP and the program says you are a “Resident Alien for Tax Purposes,” then you cannot use the program to complete your tax return. The good news is that as a resident alien for tax purposes, you are able to file your taxes online and have access to a number of programs that prepare return, many of them for free.
If you prefer to have in person assistance, you may be able to take advantage of the the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA is an IRS sponsored program which offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with free electronic filing to qualified individuals.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
The OISS and the Law School’s Pro Bono committee will be hosting VITA workshops for the last four weeks before taxes are due. Assistance is available for both nonresident and resident tax returns at the following times:
- Thursday, March 22, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
- Monday, March 26, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
- Wednesday, March 28, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
- Wednesday, April 4, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
- Saturday, April 7, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
- Monday, April 9, 2:30 – 4:00 pm
- Saturday, April 14, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Registration and location available on Eventbrite.
There are a number of other VITA sites around the St. Louis area that have different dates/times available. You can find locations near you on the IRS website at Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers.
Internal Revenue Service Information and Assistance
The IRS has resources available to help with the filing of both nonresident and resident returns.
- Main IRS website
- International Taxpayers
- Foreign students and scholars
- Nonresident Aliens
- Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes
- International Taxpayers Explanation Videos on IRS YouTube page
- National IRS Hotline: (800) 829-1040
You may also be able to get assistance from the IRS Taxpayer Assistance office. Appointments are required. Find out how to contact your local office.
Missouri Department of Revenue Information and Assistance
The Missouri DOR also has resources available to help with the filing of your Missouri state return. (Remember, this is different from the federal return.)
Assistance For a Price
Unfortunately, neither Washington University nor the OISS is able to provide assistance or advice regarding filing taxes. If you are unable or uncomfortable with the free resources listed above, you can hire an accountant who understands international taxation.
Search for an accountant on one of the following online directories:
If you choose to hire an accountant, ask questions to determine if he/she understands international taxation and nonresident taxes. Be certain to ask about tax treaties, NRA exemption and deductions on tax returns.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators compiled a Federal Income Tax Brochure, which is designed to offer general guidelines only for federal income tax obligations, including determining tax residency and which forms must be filed and when. Included in the brochure is:
- What is Considered Income
- What is a Tax Return
- Who Must File a Tax Return
- What is a “NonResident” Alien
- Determining Tax Residency
- Where to Get Help Locally
- Additional Internet Resources