Taxes Overview

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 file your tax returns or answer tax-related questions. 

PLEASE NOTE:

  • These resources 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. 

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How to Determine Your Tax Status

A student or scholar’s tax status may be different from your immigration status. Depending on your tax residency, you may have different tax requirements, exemptions, and forms to complete. 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. 

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 status, you can use the NRVTAP's Residency Tool or a Tax Software (for example, Glacier or Sprintax). 

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.” You could also try NRVTAP’s residency tool

Tax Documents

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

1042-S

Did you receive a stipend, scholarship, fellowship income, and/or travel grant from UMN during 2020? If so, you will need to have a 1042-S form when preparing your income tax returns.

Please be aware that the UMN will not send these forms until mid-March. If you want to know if you will receive 1042-S, please email [email protected] to ask. This requirement does not apply to individuals who only received tuition reductions or exemptions.

1098-T

You may have received a 1098-T Tuition Form from the Office of Student Finance. This form does not generally apply to international students and scholars, however, as non-residents are not eligible to claim education expense tax credits.

Minnesota Property Tax Refund 

If you rent, you may have received a notice from your landlord that says you can file for a "Property Tax Refund" on your taxes. Be cautious about applying for this refund, and consult an expert on non-resident tax issues first. The rules are very complicated, and you can be liable for repayment with penalties and interest. Review the information from the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Resources for Non-residents

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

UMN IRS VITA Student Group

Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (NRVTAP) - The Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (NRVTAP) provides free tax services to qualifying international students and scholars at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities, Duluth, Crookston, and Rochester campuses. Appointments are given on a first-come, first serve basis, and more information about NRVTAP's services can be found at www.nrvtap.com. Video tutorials are also available on the NRVTAP website, as well as a list of office hours.

Please note: If you will receive a 1042-S form, you should schedule an appointment after mid-March (although you can make a reservation now). You will need this form to prepare your taxes, and the University of Minnesota will not be sending 1042-S forms until then.

Tax Preparing Software Options

Most tax softwares 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. Some tax softwares prepare state returns depending on the company. 

Tax Providers 

  • 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. 

Additional Information

You can also access Sprintax’s resources such as the Sprintax Blog and YouTube videos that all open for any international student to access covering important topics related to nonresident tax. Sprintax will also offer the following informational webinars that will cover an overview of nonresident tax for international students and scholars to learn more about their filing obligations:

Resources for Tax Residents

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

UMN IRS VITA Student Group

Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VTAP): These clinics should only be used by individuals preparing resident tax returns.

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 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.

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. 
     

Tax Return Warnings

Some organizations may offer services to international students that are not in your best interest, and may even have serious consequences.

Whether these services are offered free or for a charge, please be aware of the following:

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 erred 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.

Last updated: August 6, 2021