It’s income tax season here in the United States. Americans (and others who earn income in the U.S.) must complete their tax forms and make any needed payments by April 18. This process is called filing one’s taxes.
As an international student, do you need to file taxes in the U.S.? Maybe or maybe not. You might need to submit a form to prove that you do not need to file taxes.
F1 Students (and F2 Dependents)
If you are in the U.S. on an F1 (student) or F2 (dependent) visa, you probably do not have to pay taxes. Individuals with these visas are generally not allowed to work in the U.S., so they have no U.S. income.
However, you do need to file Form 8843. This tells the government that you are exempt from filing a tax return. It’s a short and simple form, and you need to complete one for each member of your family who has an F1 or F2 visa. The form includes mailing instructions on page 3 under “Where and When to File”. Information about F1 and F2 visas is on page 4 under “Part III – Students”.
IF you receive any sort of financial aid from your American school, including a work-study job, you must file a tax return. This does not apply to students at IEI since we don’t offer scholarships or on-campus jobs. However, it may apply to some international students at colleges and universities. Check with your school’s international student services offices to find out what forms you need.
Resident Aliens (Green Card Holders) and U.S. Citizens
If you have a green card or are a U.S. citizen, you must file a regular income tax return. If you didn’t have any income, you still must file a tax return in most cases. The basic tax form is Form 1040.
The U.S. government allows taxpayers to deduct some educational expenses from their taxes. However, tuition and fees to IEI are not deductible from your taxes. We are not an eligible educational institution for U.S. tax purposes.
The State of Tennessee does not have a state income tax, but many states do. If you’re not attending IEI or another school in Tennessee, check your state’s requirements.
Help with your taxes
IEI staff members are not trained to assist students with tax preparation. You can get free tax help through United Way, Nashville Public Library, or other locations listed here. For F1 and F2 visa holders who need help, Glacier Tax Prep offers tax preparation for international students for $39.