Filing Tax Returns

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 this year is April 18th.

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.

Avoid Scams

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

Form W-2

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.

Forms 1042-S

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.

Form 8843

If you are a nonresident alien and did not have any income in the last calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) you may still need to file Form 8843. Form 8843 is an informational statement required by the U.S. government for nonresident aliens who entered the U.S. with visa types F, J, M, Q. This form is the only form filed when a person has no monetary activity to report to the IRS. Form 8843 must also be included with the taxpayer’s monetary tax return. 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.

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.

If you are also required to file an income tax return, 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 to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.

If you are not required to file an income tax return, send Form 8843 to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Please be aware that each individual who files Form 8843 must not send it with anyone elses form. This means the forms for your spouse and child(ren) would each go in their own envelopes.

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 March 15.
Note the email is coming directly from the vendor (Arctic International), so check your inbox and spam folders for an email from
If you have not received a code by March 15, and believe you should have, or if you lost your code, you may complete the GLACIER Access Code Request Form.

Free Assistance for Resident returns

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. However, free assistance with Resident returns is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Generally, no appointment is needed, and at some locations, English is not required.
Find a VITA location near you at either url below:

IRS Assistance

The IRS has resources available to help with the filing of both nonresident and resident returns.

You may also be able to get assistance from the St. Louis IRS office. Appointments are required. Find out how to contact your local office.

Missouri Department of Revenue 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.

Informational Resource

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