All international students and scholars (and associated dependents where applicable) must file the appropriate Federal and Alabama State income tax forms each year in compliance with Federal and State Income tax laws.
The information here is provided as an overview and may not reflect changes, additions or other modifications applicable to filing income taxes at the federal and state levels. It is in no way intended to provide definitive instructions for how to complete your tax forms. The information here is subject to change at any time. Each individual student and scholar is responsible for ensuring that they have secured and verified the information appropriate and relevant to their individual and family circumstances for Federal and State of Alabama income tax purposes.
Failure to file the appropriate federal and state income tax returns may cause you to lose future immigration benefits and may subject you to additional penalties including but not limited to fines and collections fees.
Tax Returns are generally due by April 15th following the end of the tax year.
This due date is for federal and state tax filing.
Federal Tax Returns
IRS Publication 519 is the official US tax guide for Aliens. Federal tax forms and other publications can be accessed via the IRS website.
State Tax Returns
The State of Alabama has different tax laws than those of the federal government. Please refer to the State of Alabama Department of Revenue’s website for instructions and information concerning your State of Alabama return.
The State of Alabama also has a local taxpayer service center that you may contact with questions concerning your state return.
Can the International Program or Controller’s staff help me with my taxes?
No. Neither the Office of International Programs nor the Office of the Controller is trained to provide tax advice. You will need to seek assistance from a private preparer (charges a fee).
Do I need to file a return if I earned no income in the US in the tax year that we are filing for?
If you are an individual in F, J, M or Q status, and earned no US income in the tax filing year, you are still required to report your days of presence in the US. You will need to file form 8843. You can find Form 8843 and instructions on how to complete and mail on the IRS website.
Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN)?
All foreign nationals who are legally admitted with permission to work in the United States are required to have a SSN. JSU is required by law to furnish your SSN to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You are also required by law to file a U.S. income tax return, which requires your SSN. Visit the Social Security Administration website for eligibility requirements.
I do not qualify for a U.S. Social Security Number. How do I apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)?
You will need to complete form W-7 and mail it with your tax return. Instructions for completing form W-7, attachments that are required, and instructions on where to mail can be found on the IRS website.
What part of my scholarship is taxable to me?
Section 117 of the International Revenue Code exempts from federal tax any scholarship, fellowship and/or grant amounts that pay for tuition, required fees and books. These amounts are referred to as “qualified scholarships.” Amounts paid in excess of these charges are considered “nonqualified” and are subject to 14% federal tax withholding, unless exempt by tax treaty. Examples of nonqualified charges include: housing and meals.
What does “treaty exempt” mean?
“Treaty exempt” means that if all criteria are met and the proper forms are completed, you will not have to pay federal tax on all or a portion of your income under provisions of a tax treaty between the United States and your country of tax residence.
What taxes are covered under any income tax treaty?
The income tax treaty covers federal income tax. The State of Alabama does not honor income tax treaties.
How do I know if I’m eligible to claim a tax treaty benefit?
You must fulfill four criteria in order to claim a tax treaty benefit:
- You must be a nonresident for tax purposes (this is different than your immigration status).
- You must receive US source of income from salary and/or a scholarship.
- You are on an F-1, J-1 or an H1-B visa.
- You were a resident of one of the following countries listed in the IRS Publication 901 immediately prior to coming to the US.
What forms do I have to fill out?
That depends on your residency status and whether you made US source income in the previous calendar year, whether you need to apply for an ITIN, whether you will claim a tax treaty benefit, and whether you will claim a refund on Social Security and Medicare taxes.
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