U.S. Income Taxes

International students and scholars (and their dependents) who were physically within the United States on an F or J visa during 2023 must file taxes by the April 15th deadline, regardless of whether they earned any income.

Below are some resources to help you determine your tax status, file your tax returns, and answer tax-related questions. 

Current Updates

PLEASE NOTE: Resources provided below are not affiliated with the University of Minnesota or International Student and Scholar Services and have not been vetted. Notification of a resource should not be construed as an endorsement by the University of Minnesota. We are aware of these resources, but it is fully any student's responsibility to investigate and choose whether or not to utilize its services. Some of the resources listed below charge for their services. We recommend that you compare costs prior to making a decision.

Determine Your Tax Status

A student or scholar’s tax status may be different from your immigration status. Depending on your tax residency (nonresident, resident, or dual-status), you may have different tax requirements, exemptions, and forms to complete. In general, students in F or J status are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first five calendar years of their stay in the U.S. Scholars in J status are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first two calendar years of their stay.

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Resources for Non-Residents

If you have determined that you are a non-resident for tax purposes, here are resources.

Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (NRVTAP)

The NoRTH & NRVTAP International Tax Clinic provides free tax assistance for residents and nonresidents.  They will open on January 29, 2024, and will again be providing free tax software, tools, guides, and support to help UofM students, scholars, teachers, researchers, and staff prepare and file their 2023 federal and state income tax returns.  To request a free membership and access their materials, please visit their website.

NoRTH & NRVTAP will be conducting a series of tax clinics and office hours to provide additional assistance for members preparing their tax returns. Tax clinics are both in-person and remote (Zoom) formats, while office hours are remote only.  Appointment times are limited, so book your appointment soon for the best choice of dates/times.  Note that if you will receive a 1042-S form this will be delivered approximately mid to late March, so you should book an appointment for after that date.  NoRTH & NRVTAP also provide email support to answer tax questions and resolve e-filing and software issues.

If you receive a letter from the IRS or Minnesota Department of Revenue, you can reach out to NRVTAP and they will help you understand what the letter means and suggest options for how to respond. 

Tax Preparing Software Options

Most available tax software is designed for U.S. tax residents, and will assume that you are also a resident.  The software will generally not even ask questions to help you determine your tax status.  If you use tax software without first confirming your residency status you may file an incorrect return, which you will need to fix by filing an amended return, and paying back any refunds, plus interest, that you received but were not eligible for.  

However, there are some software options that do support preparation of nonresident tax forms (with or without U.S. income), and that may also help you in determining your tax residency.  Tax software may also help you prepare state returns, depending on the company.  Unless specifically stated, these software programs are not free, and you will have to purchase them.

  • Am I A Nonresident Alien?  (NoRTH’s free residency determination tool)
  • TaxSlayer (Free through the NRVTAP website)
    • You can use Taxslayer to prepare your 2023 return through October 31, 2024, even if the deadline for filing has passed.  
  • Sprintax 
  • You can use Sprintax to file even if the deadline has passed.
  • Glacier

Tax Providers 

  • Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (NRVTAP): Assists with non-resident tax issues, including federal and state nonresident alien returns, as well as help to prepare ITIN application forms (with free CAA Services). 
  • The Nonresident Tax Help Group: Assist with non-resident tax issues, including federal and state nonresident alien returns, prior year and amended returns, dual-status returns, as well as help to prepare ITIN application forms (although no CAA Services).
  • GW Carter, Ltd Certified Public Accountants: Dual year returns and complicated tax situations for resident and nonresident tax preparers. 

Resources for Tax Residents

If you have determined that you are a resident for tax purposes, here are resources.

Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (NRVTAP)

The NoRTH & NRVTAP International Tax Clinic now provides free tax assistance for tax residents!  They will open on January 29, 2024, and will again be providing free tax software, tools, guides, and support to help UofM students, scholars, teachers, researchers, and staff prepare and file their 2023 federal and state income tax returns.  To request a free membership and access their materials, please visit their website.

NoRTH & NRVTAP will be conducting a series of tax clinics and office hours to provide additional assistance for members preparing their tax returns. Tax clinics are both in-person and remote (Zoom) formats, while office hours are remote only.  Appointment times are limited, so book your appointment soon for the best choice of dates/times.  Note that if you will receive a 1042-S form this will be delivered approx. March 15th, so you should book an appointment for after that date.  NoRTH & NRVTAP also provide email support to answer tax questions and resolve e-filing and software issues.

If you receive a letter from the IRS or Minnesota Department of Revenue, you can reach out to NRVTAP and they will help you understand what the letter means and suggest options for how to respond.

Tax Vendors/Preparers

If you are filing as only a resident for tax purposes (not dual status), you should be able to use the tax preparers and vendors that are available to other U.S. citizens and tax residents. 

The IRS has several options for free tax preparation assistance:

Free tax software for qualifying individuals:  IRS Free File Program

  • There are multiple vendors that provide free tax software through this link.  Please note that each of them has different criteria for their free products, generally based on your total income and your age.  Review your options carefully as not all software providers will prepare state tax returns for free. 

Free tax preparation for qualifying individuals:  

IRS VITA Tax Preparation Clinic Search

MN Dept. of Revenue Free Tax Preparation Clinic Search

  • The NoRTH & NRVTAP International Tax Clinic provides free tax assistance through this program.  
  • There are other VITA tax clinics in the Twin Cities that will provide free tax preparation for qualifying taxpayers.  Generally the criteria for service is based on your total income and location, and you will need to go to their site for services.  Some clinics are appointment based, while others are walk-in and wait.  These clinics will generally NOT assist nonresidents, so be sure to confirm your tax residency first.  

This IRS tool has these and other helpful resources: IRS: Tools for Individual Taxpayers.

Consulting a Tax Professional

GW Carter, Ltd Certified Public Accountants: Dual-year returns and complicated tax situations for resident and nonresident tax preparers.

 

Resources for Dual-Status Aliens

If you have determined that you are a dual-status alien for tax purposes, here are resources.

Tax Providers for Dual Status Aliens

  • The Nonresident Tax Help Group - Assist with non-resident tax issues, including federal and state nonresident alien returns, prior year and amended returns, dual-status returns, as well as help to prepare ITIN application forms (although no CAA Services).
  • GW Carter, Ltd Certified Public Accountants - Dual year returns and complicated tax situations for resident and nonresident tax preparers. 

Other Tax Resources

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UMN Tax Information and Forms (1042-S and W-2)

Students who work at the university or receive a scholarship or fellowship may find these resources helpful: 

1042-S and W-2

Did you receive a stipend, scholarship, fellowship income, and/or travel grant from UMN during 2023? If so, you may need to have a 1042-S and/or W-2 form when preparing your income tax returns.

Please be aware that the UMN will not send these forms until mid to late March. After the forms are delivered, you can also access your W-2 form through MyU. If you want to know if you will receive 1042-S or W-2, please email [email protected] to ask. This requirement does not apply to individuals who only received tuition reductions or exemptions.

Phone and Email Scams

International students and scholars are targeted by phone and email scams. The Internal Revenue Service and other governmental agencies will NEVER contact you by phone to demand an immediate payment, and the IRS does not contact individual taxpayers by email or phone.

If you receive a call from someone saying you must pay immediately to resolve a tax problem, it is fake, so you should hang up.

If you receive an email from someone claiming they are the IRS, delete the email. Do not respond or click on any of the links in the email.

Filing with Incorrect Tax Residency Status

If you are classified as a Non-Resident, you may NOT file a Resident return. Residence, for tax purposes, is determined by the Substantial Presence Test, which considers your presence in the U.S. during the tax year and the two prior years. Individuals with an F or J visa may not count days toward this test depending on how long they have been in the U.S. on that visa (generally 5 years for F/J students, 2 years for other J visa holders). 

Some organizations may tell you that you can choose, often because they do not know how to complete non-resident returns, so they would like to file a Resident return for you. It is not a matter of choice! Only people who are determined to have "Resident" Filing Status may complete a Resident Return. Most students and scholars will be classified as Non-Residents for tax purposes.

Locally, some free tax assistance sites have erroneously filed resident returns for non-residents, who were promised larger refunds by this method. This could result in a charge of tax fraud against you, which may jeopardize your legal status. The fact that your preparer made a mistake will not excuse you from liability. Please protect yourself!

Use NRVTAP’s tax residency tool to confirm your federal tax residency.

Taxpayer Identification Number

Few students will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN). The only students or scholars who should need an ITIN are those with non-work U.S. income, such as scholarship or investment dividends. A Taxpayer ID number is NOT REQUIRED on the Form 8843, and working students will have a Social Security Number instead. ISSS has become aware of some local organizations that will offer a service for hire of applying for this Taxpayer ID number for you. There is no need for this. It is also important not to hand over your official documents to such an organization.

NRVTAP provides free ITIN assistance to international students and scholars at the University of Minnesota. They will help you confirm if you need and are eligible for an ITIN number, and assist you with completing the forms to apply for an ITIN number if you are eligible. Contact them at [email protected].

Last updated: February 12, 2024