Chatham University

International Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions about Filing Your Taxes

DISCLAIMER:Chatham University does not provide tax advice. This information has been prepared for informational purposes for students of Chatham University only and is not intended as tax advice. Please consult a tax advisor if you need further information.

+1. Who must file an income tax return?

  • If you earned income in the United States: If you are visiting the United States from another country, and you are here on an F or J visa and you are classified as a nonresident for U.S. tax purposes, then you must file an income tax return every year that you have U.S.-source income.
  • If you did not earn any income: You need to file IRS Form 8843.
  • If you are a family member on an F-2 or J-2 visa: You must also file form 8843 for every family member who is here in the United States on an F-2 or J-2 visa.

+2. If I did not earn any U.S.-based income, do I need to file any tax forms?

Yes. You and all of your family members must file a Form 8843, even if you did not earn income in the United States.

+3. If I already had taxes withheld from my paycheck, do I still need to file an income tax return?

Yes. Taxes are withheld from your pay at the time when you earn your paychecks. You need to file federal (IRS), state, and city income tax forms after the end of the calendar year. The IRS will make sure the right amount was taken out of your paycheck when you file.

+4. If I arrived in the U.S. in December and I didn't work, do I still need to file IRS Form 8843?

Yes. Even if you were in the U.S. only for one day during the year you are filing for, you need to file IRS Form 8843. If you have family members here with you, they also need to file Form 8843.

+5. What will happen to me if I fail to file an income tax return?

If you owe taxes and don't file a tax return, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can charge you money. You might have to pay a penalty and also pay interest on any tax owed. These fines or penalties can cost more than the original tax debt.

If you are eligible for a tax refund but you do not file an income tax return, you will not receive a refund.

There can also be immigration consequences if you fail to file an income tax return. Example: "Green card" applicants who are applying for permanent residency are often asked to provide proof of having filed their taxes in the U.S.

+6. What should I do if I am being paid by a foreign employer?

Nonresidents will be taxed on their U.S.-source income only. If you are a non-resident for tax filing purposes, income earned from a foreign employer is not taxable.

+7. I did not have enough money taken out of my paycheck, and I received a 1099 form. What should I do? What will happen if I do not pay some or all of my taxes?

If not enough money was taken out of your paycheck, you need to pay the additional tax when you file your income tax return.

Note: The IRS receives copies of all Forms W-2 and 1099 and it matches these forms against your income tax return. If the IRS believes that you did not report your income correctly, it will send you a notice. If you do not report all of your income, this can result in harsh penalties, such as imprisonment.

+8. What are the differences between Form 1040NR and Form 1040NR-EZ? Which one should I use? Will using the longer form save me any money?

It is always a good idea to use the simplest form that will address all of your income and deductions. Look at the instructions for each form (available on the website) to see an explanation about who can file the form.

Using the longer form will only save you money if you have items to list that you were not able to list on the shorter form (for example, if you gave any gifts to U.S. charities).

+9. I worked in another state last year and paid state taxes. How should I report this on my federal income tax return? Will I need to file a state income tax return?

You could claim an itemized deduction on Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR for any state taxes that were withheld.

You might also need to file a state income tax return, as well as the federal income tax return. Check with the tax department of whichever state you worked in.

+10. Does the Office of International Affairs (OIA) offer tax assistance?

No. The OIA has provided you with some resources on our website that will help you to complete your tax filing requirements. However, the OIA staff are not trained tax professionals, we and will not be able to provide individual help with tax questions.

Note: Please consult a tax advisor if you need further information.

Questions about Tax Treaty Benefits:

+1. How do I know whether or not the U.S. has an income tax treaty with my home country?

For more information about tax treaty benefits, you should refer to IRS publication 901 U.S. Tax Treaties.

+2. How does a tax treaty help me on my income tax return?

Tax treaties typically allow a person to exclude a specific amount of U.S.-source income on their U.S. tax return. This reduces the tax liability since you do not have to pay taxes on that amount.

+3. I am looking at IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties. In the "amount" column of the charts, what does the term "unlimited" mean?

The term "unlimited" means that there is no maximum limit on the dollar amount that the individual can exclude. For more information, you can consult IRS publication 901 U.S. Tax Treaties.

Questions about Form 1098T:

+1. What is the form 1098T?

Form 1098T shows the amount of tuition you paid last year. This is helpful for people that are eligible to claim deductions such as the "Hope or Lifetime Learning Education credits or Earned Income Credit (EIC)."

Note: Non-resident filers will not be eligible for this credit.

DISCLAIMER: Chatham University shall not be held liable for the use of any of the information provided. You should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a tax professional if you require clarification or have any questions about filing your taxes.