Understanding your U.S. Tax Obligations
International students and scholars in the U.S. have certain U.S. tax obligations. All international students and scholars are required to file a U.S. (federal) tax return even if you do not have U.S. source income. Below are a few things you need to know.
- If you receive U.S. source income, including wages, stipend, or scholarship funds, you will likely have federal and state tax withheld from your checks (unless you benefit from a tax treaty.)
- The U.S. tax system is a pay-as-you go system in that there may be automatic tax withholdings from your paycheck, stipend or financial aid. These means that in some instances your available income will be reduced by the tax withholdings. When you file your annual tax report in April of each year, you will calculate the exact amount of tax due. Some years you may get a refund and in others you may owe additional taxes.
- The tax year is from January 1 to December 31 of any given year. You file your tax return in the spring of the following year with a filing deadline of mid-April.
- OISS provides more specific tax filing information in the spring of each year (please return to this site at that time)
- In addition to filing a federal return, some students and scholars must also file a CT state return.
New to Yale?
Upon arriving at Yale, you should be certain you understand your tax obligations and are ready when the filing season arrives. Here is what you can do to get prepared.
- Register with the Yale University Tax Office. The Yale International Tax Office must assess your situation to determine your withholding and tax filing status. This process will also determine if there is a tax treaty that will benefit you. If you are eligible for a tax treaty benefit, you will need either an SSN or ITIN and you will need one of these numbers to file your annual tax return.
- If you are eligible for a U.S. social security number (SSN), apply for one now.
- If you are receiving funds from Yale and are not eligible for an SSN, apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) now.
How can OISS assist you?
By the end of February, OISS will provide all F-1 and J-1 students and scholars access to a tax preparation software (FNTR). This software will help you prepare your federal tax return. In addition, OISS will post up-to-date information about tax filing on our website often referencing you to the rich resources in the FNTR program. OISS staff are not tax experts and therefore cannot help you prepare your return.
Do I really need to file? YES!
ALL international students and scholars who were in the U.S. for any period of time during any calendar year must file a federal tax statement, called an income tax return. And some international students and scholars will need to file a state tax return(s). If you did not have any U.S. source income, you will only file Form 8843. If you have U.S. source income, your next step is to determine your tax filing status.
Your Tax Filing Status
Before you begin your tax return, you will need to determine your tax filing status: nonresident tax filer or resident tax filer. Most, but not all, Yale international students will be nonresident tax filers. Most J-1 scholars will be nonresident tax filers for the first two calendar years in the U.S. However, some of you will be resident tax filers even though you have a nonimmigrant visa status. It is important to file in the correct status. If you do not know your tax filing status, FNTR (Foreign National Tax Resource) will help you determine it. FNTR is only available for nonresident tax filers. If you are a tax resident you will not be able to use FNTR. You can find more information on the IRS website.
This information is intended only for international students and scholars with income sources and level typical of students and scholars at Yale University. Although the information contained in this site has been reviewed carefully and should be adequate to assist most international students and scholars, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a qualified tax accountant. If your visa status has changed in the past year, or you believe you have a complicated tax issue, please consult the IRS or a qualified tax accountant.
In addition, while the tax preparation software, Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE™ FNTR, is being provided to help you with your tax filing obligations, you are individually responsible for verifying that the correct information has been entered into the tax preparation software and included on all forms and/or other documents printed or derived from the tax preparation software, and ultimately responsible for any errors or omissions.