All nonresident international students and scholars (and their dependents) who were physically within the United States must file tax paperwork.
Below are some resources to help you determine your tax status, file your tax returns, and answer tax-related questions.
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.
- For help with determining your tax residency status, you can use the NRVTAP's Residency Tool or a Tax Software (for example, Glacier or Sprintax).
- For more information on how to determine your tax residency, visit the IRS website, Introduction to Residency Under US Tax Law. The IRS also has a Tax Guide for nonresident tax filers.
- If you are not sure if you are a resident for tax purposes or a “dual-status alien” for tax purposes, according to the IRS Taxation of Dual-Status Aliens webpage: “You are a dual-status alien when you have been both a U.S. resident alien and a nonresident alien in the same tax year.”
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 is providing limited support now that the tax season is ending. They will continue to offer 24/7 access to their free tools, guides, and video demos through October 17, 2022. Their tax software is free, and enables almost all non-residents to e-file their federal and state tax returns. To request a free membership and access their materials, please visit their website.
NRVTAP has completed their series of clinics and office hours for the tax season, and is no longer offering individual appointments for tax assistance. NRVTAP will continue to provide limited email support, but be aware that they may not be able to resolve all issues over email, and that response times will be longer after the end of April.
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 tax software can help you determine your tax status, prepare non-resident tax forms for individuals who have not earned income, or file federal income tax returns. Tax software may also help you prepare state returns, depending on the company.
- TaxSlayer (Free through the NRVTAP website)
- You can use Taxslayer through October 17, 2022, even if the deadline for filing has passed.
- You can use Sprintax to file even if the deadline has passed.
- 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.
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 residents. You could try this IRS tool to see if it is helpful in finding assistance: 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.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) offers free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. Use the VITA Locator Tool to find options near you. This resource should only be used by individuals preparing resident tax returns.
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
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:
- UMN Office of Human Resources Tax Information Website for Students, Scholars, and Visitors
- UMN Information for Students and Parents
1042-S and W-2
Did you receive a stipend, scholarship, fellowship income, and/or travel grant from UMN during 2020? 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-March. After the forms are delivered, you can also access your 1042-S and/or 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 a Resident Return
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 whether you were present in the U.S. for the majority of the last five calendar years.
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.
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!
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 OPTIONAL 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.