ISSS cannot give tax advice, so we cannot help international students and scholars determine whether they should have received a recovery rebate. We have compiled the following resources to help individuals find answers to their questions.
Will international students and scholars receive a recovery rebate?
On May 7, 2020 and December 29, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service released specific guidance on who qualifies for the Economic Impact Payments. If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, reference the question: Does someone who is a resident alien qualify for the Payment?
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Is my tax status the same as my immigration status?
International student and scholar’s immigration status can be different from the individual’s tax status. All international students and scholars who are F-1 or J-1 visa status are considered in nonimmigrant visa status.
For tax purposes, however, you may be either a non-resident or resident alien depending on how long you have been in the United States. To help you determine your tax status, you may use the IRS Determine Alien Tax Status resource or the other options listed on the Tax Information webpage.
If I already received a recovery rebate, what do I need to know?
According to the UMN Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program: “International students and scholars who are nonresident aliens cannot keep the stimulus payment. In these cases, it is likely individuals who received a payment incorrectly filed as a resident alien."
If you are not considered a resident for tax purposes, you will need to repay the stimulus payment. The IRS published detailed instructions on how to repay the stimulus payment on their Economic Impact Payment Information Center website, please review this question: What should I do to return an Economic Impact Payment (EIP)? (added May 6, 2020)
How should I file a correction?
The UMN Nonresident Volunteer Tax Assistance Program recommends doing the following to correct this situation with the IRS:
- For students and scholars who filed incorrectly as a resident alien and are considered nonresident aliens, you need to file an amended return for your 2018 and/or 2019 federal taxes (additionally, it is likely you will need to correct your MN tax return).
- Be aware that the NRVTAP Tax Clinics cannot help you with filing a correction. Your only free option will be for you to prepare your return yourself. The IRS website and MN Department of Revenue both have forms and instructions about how to fill out your amended returns.
- Alternatively, you can seek paid professional assistance to prepare your tax returns. We cannot recommend any specific preparers, but we have provided a list of possible resources below.
- If you are not considered a resident for tax purposes (see IRS website for eligibility), you will need to repay the stimulus payment.
- The IRS has publish detailed instructions on how to repay the stimulus payment on their Economic Impact Payment Information Center website, please review this question: What should I do to return an Economic Impact Payment (EIP)? (added May 6, 2020)
- If you need to return a stimulus payment, remember to keep copies of the check, any correspondence and to send with some kind of delivery tracking. This may be helpful information to prove you complied with all tax regulations on any possible future immigration applications.
Where can I get assistance preparing a correction?
What other resources are available?
These resources are not affiliated with the University of Minnesota or International Student and Scholar Services and have not been fully 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.
- IRS: How to determine your Substantial Presence Test
- IRS: Economic Impact Payments
- IRS: Economic Impact Payments Information Center
- IRS: Dual Status Residency
- IRS: References for Foreign Student and Scholars
- Covid-19 Government Programs
- Government Report Confirms Many Nonimmigrants Eligible for Stimulus Payment, by Murthy Law Firm
- Immigrants, Public Benefits, and COVID-19 presentation by Cornell Law School
- This table provides a general overview of some of the federal public programs available to support individuals and families during the COVID-19 crisis under existing law: Immigrant Eligibility for Public Programs During COVID-19