Understanding Your 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.
- The U.S. tax system is a pay-as-you go system in that there are usually automatic tax withholdings from your paycheck, stipend or financial aid. Unless you benefit from a U.S. tax treaty, this means that your available income may be reduced by tax withholdings. Look carefully at your first Yale paycheck to make sure the taxes withheld are correct. When you file your annual tax return in April for the preceding year, you will calculate the exact amount 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. OISS provides more specific tax filing information in the spring of each year, including access to a tax preparation software, Sprintax. The filing deadline is April 15th.
- 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.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires Yale University to apply specific federal tax withholding and reporting rules consistent with your U.S. tax status, i.e., resident or nonresident tax filers. Resident tax filers are taxed same as U.S. citizens, while nonresident tax filers are taxed under different withholding and reporting rules. Non U.S. student and scholar receiving payments from the University (e.g., compensation, stipend, fellowship, etc.) are required to complete the Foreign National Information System (FNIS) application with the International Tax Department. Once the FNIS application is completed and submitted to the International Tax Department, you will receive notification regarding U.S. tax residency, treaty eligibility and instructions for completing Form W-4 and CT-W4. If you have not received the FNIS application link, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 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, Sprintax will help you determine it. Sprintax is only available for nonresident tax filers. If you are a tax resident you will not be able to use Sprintax. You can find more information on the IRS website.
How Can OISS Assist You?
By the end of February, OISS will provide all F-1 and J-1 students and scholars who are nonresident tax filers will receive an email with information about how to access the tax preparation software Sprintax. This software will help you prepare your federal tax return. For an additional fee, Sprintax can assist you in preparing your state income tax form. OISS staff are not tax experts and therefore cannot help you prepare your return.
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, Sprintax, 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.