As an international student or scholar in the U.S., you are obligated to file a U.S. tax return during your stay.
Taxes can be confusing. That’s why Trinity College works with Sprintax, an online tool designed for international students and scholars to help them prepare federal and state tax documents in fewer than 20 minutes.
“Filing” taxes is not the same as “paying” taxes!
In the United States, taxes are withheld automatically from your paycheck. So if you have a job on campus, you’ve already been paying taxes each time you get paid.
Filing your taxes means showing the United States government how much money you have already paid in taxes. Most international students discover after they file their taxes that the government has removed too much money from their paychecks (damn them!). These students will receive a tax refund. Tax refunds usually range from about $600-$1,000, which you would receive as a check in your campus mailbox. Note that not all students will receive a refund! Some may even owe money.
Students from countries which have negotiated tax treaties with the United States might enjoy a reduced tax rate. It is also possible that these students will owe nothing in income taxes at all; nonetheless, they will still need to file their taxes through Sprintax. Countries with tax treaties include China, India, Pakistan, Canada, the UK, and many more.
Do I need a Social Security Number to File My Taxes?
Nope. However, if you don’t have one you’ll need to apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number.
You are legally obligated to file your taxes!
Failing to file may impact the status of your current visa and make future US visa applications difficult.
If you miss the April 15th deadline, you may face late filing penalties. Filing before this date prevents this, so the earlier you file, the better. That said, better late than never. Sprintax allows you to “backfile” for previous years, and you should do this. If you have not been filing your taxes, please contact OISS immediately for a consultation on how to move forward. It’s going to be okay, but let’s get this sorted out!