Skip to Main Content

International Student Resources: U.S. Taxes

This is a libguide with resources for international students at Eastern Nazarene College

This page refers to U.S. income taxes and associated filing requirements, not sales tax or other kinds of taxes.

Understanding Your U.S. Income Tax Obligations

All international students and scholars have a federal tax filing requirement even if you do not have U.S. source income.

Below are a few things you need to know.

U.S. Income Tax System Basics

  • The U.S. tax system is a pay-as-you go system in that there are usually automatic tax withholdings from your paycheck, stipend or financial aid.
  • This amount is estimated based on information you provided in your W-4 or other tax documents as well as your tax filing status and possibly your residency (due to a tax treaty).
  • This means that your available income may be reduced by tax withholdings. Look carefully at your first ENC paycheck to make sure the amount of taxes withheld is accurate.
  • The Internal Revenue Service, usually referred to as the IRS, is the name of the U.S. tax collection agency.
  • When you file your annual tax return in April for the preceding year, you will calculate the exact amount due. This will be compared to the amount that you actually paid. Some years you may get a refund (this is why it is called a tax return) and in others you may owe additional taxes.
  • In addition to filing a federal return, some students and scholars must also file a Massachusetts Tax Return.

Timing and Due Dates

  • The tax year is from January 1 to December 31 of any given year. You file your tax return in the spring of the following year.
  • The ENC DSO provides more specific tax filing information in the spring of each year, including access to a tax preparation software, Sprintax. The filing deadline for the 2021 tax year is April 18, 2022.
  • If you don’t comply with your tax obligations, you may encounter complications when applying for U.S. visas in the future.

Do I Really Need to File? YES!

ALL of the following individuals who were in the U.S. for any period of time during the calendar year have federal tax filing obligations the following year:

  • international students
  • dependents of international students

Determining Your Tax Filing Status

Before you begin your tax return, you will need to determine your tax filing status: nonresident tax filer or resident tax filer.

  • This status determines how you are taxed and which forms you need to fill out.
  • This status is only a tax filing status and does not mean that you are a resident for other purposes. Some students and scholars are considered to be resident tax filers even though they have a nonimmigrant visa status.
  • Your tax filing status may change over time so it is a good idea to review these guidelines each time you complete your taxes.

Important Note:

It is important to file in the correct status. The guidelines below are general guidelines only. To accurately determine your tax filing status, please see the IRS's website or Sprintax's blog page. If you are still not certain, you should create a Sprintax account and Sprintax will ask you a series of questions based on the substantial presence test to determine your residence status for federal tax filing purposes. 

  • Generally, most international students and scholars who are on F visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes.
  • F-1 students are considered nonresident tax filers for their first five calendar years in the U.S.
  • F-1 students usually become resident tax filers after being present in the U.S. for five calendar years.
  • You can find more information about determining your tax status on the IRS website or the Sprintax blog.

Form 8843

What is a Form 8843 and Who Must File One?

Form 8843 is not a U.S. income tax return. It is an informational statement required by the IRS for nonresidents for tax purposes. It should be filled out for every nonresident present in the U.S. for the previous year, including spouses, partners, and children.

Nonresident Tax Filers

  • If you are a nonresident tax filer with U.S. source income and are using Sprintax to file your tax return, your Form 8843 will be included in the forms that Sprintax generates for filing.
  • If you are filing your 1040NR form yourself, you must also include a Form 8843.

Resident Tax Filers

  • If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, you are not required to file Form 8843.

Who Should Complete ONLY Form 8843?

If you are a nonresident tax filer, and have NO U.S. source income in 2021 you only need to complete the IRS Form 8843 to fulfill your federal tax filing obligation. Continue reading to find out how you can file this form.

What Does it Mean to Have No U.S. Source Income?

It means you did not receive wages, salary, taxable scholarship or fellowship (i.e. scholarship or fellowship that exceeds the amount of your tuition) from a U.S. institution, organization, or company. Financial support, such as sabbatical salary or a scholarship, from your home country or an organization outside the U.S. is not considered U.S. source income.

Instructions for Completing Form 8843

You only need to fill out certain parts of Form 8843 depending on your visa status. Read the following sections for information specific to your status.

Important Note: if you are using Sprintax to file your tax return, your Form 8843 will be included in the forms generated for filing so you do not need to file this form separately.

First, obtain Form 8843:

  1. Download the PDF from the IRS website
  2. Next, do one of the following:
    • Fill out the form* on your computer using Adobe Acrobat and print
    • Print the form and fill it out* very clearly using a black pen

*When filling out the form, use the instructions below to determine which sections you must fill out and which you can leave blank.

Top Portion

  • Complete the top portion of the form with your name and addresses.
  • If you have an SSN (Social Security Number) or ITIN (Individual Tax identification Number), you can write it in the top right box (Your U.S. taxpayer identification number, if any). However, you do not need an SSN or ITIN if you are only filing Form 8843. You can leave this box blank if you do not have either of them.

Part I: General Information

Answer each question. Here are tips to help clarify some of the questions:

  • Line 1a: Write your visa status for your most recent entry the U.S. and the date of entry
  • Line 1b: Write your current nonimmigrant visa status (mostly the same as line 1a)
  • Line 4a: Write the actual number of days you were physically present in the U.S. for the years indicated
  • Line 4b: Write the same number of days you wrote in 4a for 2021.

Part II: Teachers and Trainees

Skip this section.

Part III: Students

Answer each question. Here are tips to help clarify some of the questions:

  • Line 9: Write Eastern Nazarene College, 23 East Elm Ave. Quincy, MA 02170. (617) 745-3000
  • Line 10: Write David Restrick, DSO, 23 East Elm Ave. Quincy, MA 02170. (617) 745-3000
  • Line 11: Write your visa status only for the years you were present in the U.S. Otherwise leave blank.

Part IV: Professional Athletes

Skip this section.

Part V: Individuals With a Medical Condition or Medical Problem

Skip this section.

Bottom Portion

Sign and date on the last line of page 2.

Next Steps

  • Make a copy of the completed form and save it for your records
  • Mail the form to the IRS using the information at the bottom of this page

What is the Deadline for Submitting Form 8843?

April 18, 2022

Where Do I Mail My Completed Form 8843?

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

The instructions for completing Form 8843 can be found on page 3 and 4 of IRS form 8843. The information above is a simplified version of these instructions.