International Student Services

Income Tax Information for WIU International Students 

All Western Illinois University (WIU) International students MUST submit their taxes BY July 15, 2020*. (*Note: deadline extended due to COVID-19)

Please read the information below carefully and thoroughly. This page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute expertise in the subject matter of income tax law.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail. Avoid scammers pretending to be the IRS by following these steps. 

Filing Tax Returns

ALL INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FILING THEIR OWN TAXES. THE SCHOOL OF GLOBAL EDUCATION AND OUTREACH WILL NOT FILE THEM FOR YOU. Below is helpful information and links to the forms each student will need to fill out and send to the IRS.

As an international student or scholar, you need to file tax forms each year with the IRS, even if you earned no income or have made any money while at WIU. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations. 

United States (U.S.) tax laws can be complex and the laws that apply to foreign nationals are not the same as those that apply to U.S. citizens. This page is meant to serve as a general introduction. The School of Global Education and Outreach staff are not able to give tax advice about individual cases as we are not tax professionals. These resources and best practices should help you to better understand your tax obligation, to learn what and where to research, and to successfully submit your tax forms.

Do NOT file your taxes online UNLESS you use specific international student tax software such as Glacier or Sprintax. 

Best Practices for Filing Your Return
  • File your tax return as early as possible. The last day to file your tax return is  July 15, 2020*. (*Note: deadline extended due to COVID-19).
  • Mail your tax return directly from the post office.
  • Be aware of scams. The IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. They will contact you by mail.
  • ****DO NOT USE TURBO TAX.*****
Sprintax Tax Preparation for Nonresidents

Sprintax Tax Prep© is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students, scholars, and others. This is the best, most affordable option when filing your state and federal taxes. Please note that you MUST file BOTH state and federal taxes each year. The correct forms for international students are NOT available through online tax software such as TurboTax.

The last day to file your taxes is July 15, 2020*. (*Note: deadline extended due to COVID-19) .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I am an international student or scholar. Do I have to file taxes?

  • Yes, all international students and scholars as well as their dependents are required to file at least one tax form for every year they are present in the U.S. regardless of whether or not they earned any money. This does not necessarily mean you have to pay taxes. ALL INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FILING THEIR OWN TAXES. THE SCHOOL OF GLOBAL EDUCATION AND OUTREACH WILL NOT FILE THEM FOR YOU.

What tax returns do I need to submit?

  • Federal (U.S. government) Tax, Illinois State Tax and Form 8843 .

When is my tax return due?

  • Both Federal (U.S. government) and Illinois State Tax returns are due on July 15, 2020*. (*Note: deadline extended due to COVID-19) .

What is Sprintax Tax Prep?

  • Sprintax Tax Prep© is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees, and their dependents to aid in preparing U.S. federal income tax forms (returns) 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ. 

How do I access Sprintax Tax Prep?

  • Log on to sprintax.com , create an account, answer a few simple questions, Sprintax checks deductions and treaty benefits, Sprintax prepares the tax forms, print forms, and send to tax authorities.

How do I determine if I am a resident or non - resident for tax purposes?

  • F-1, J-1 students are considered non-residents for tax purposes for five years from the date they first enter the U.S. on a student visa. For J-1 scholars this period is 2 years. After this period the substantial presence test must be applied to determine residency for tax purposes. Your tax status (non-resident or resident) is separate from your immigration status. You may be a resident for tax purposes even though you are still a non-resident for immigration purposes. Sprintax Tax Prep will automatically determine your residency status for tax purposes. Visit the IRS Substantial Presence Test webpage for more information. Foreign Nationals who are considered residents for tax purposes should not use Sprintax Tax Prep.

What documents do I need to file my taxes?

  • Before you begin the filing process, be sure you have all the following information available:
    • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement
    • Form 1042-S (Contact payroll at WIU for more information.)
    • Form 1099 (if applicable): The 1099 form documents miscellaneous income. For example, if you had CPT authorization to work as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of an organization, you might receive Form 1099 instead of Form W-2 to document your earnings.
    • Passport
    • I-20 (F-1 status) or DS-2019 (J-1 or J-2 status)
    • Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification number (generally not required if you will file only Form 8843)
    • Address information (current U.S. address and foreign address)
    • S. entry and exit dates for current and past visits to U.S.
    • Academic institution or host sponsor information (name, address, phone)
    • Scholarship/fellowship grant letter (if any)

What is a W-2 or 1042-S?

  • Form W-2 is a summary of total wages earned in the U.S. and taxes withheld for the calendar year. Form 1042-S summarizes taxable scholarships and fellowships.

Which tax forms do I use?

Q. Where do I file my tax return?

  • All forms 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ are mailed to:

Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

State tax forms should be mailed to the address indicated on the tax form instructions for the state(s) in which you worked during the year. 

If you are including a payment, you will need to send all forms and payment to:

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303
USA

Q.   What is a tax treaty and how do I figure out if I am eligible?

  • The U.S. has negotiated tax treaties with many countries of the world. If you are a resident of a country that has a tax treaty with the U.S., you may be eligible to reduce or eliminate U.S. tax on your income. If you are eligible for a tax treaty benefit, more tax treaty information can be found on the IRS tax treaties webpage.

Q.   I am on scholarship. What is my tax obligation?

  • If your scholarship is from sources inside the United States, the portion of your scholarship used for room and board as well as for other "non-educational expenses" is taxed at a flat rate. Individuals from countries with which the U.S. has negotiated tax treaties may be able to reduce the amount of tax on their scholarships. The portion of your U.S. scholarship granted and used to pay tuition and required fees is exempt from U.S. tax. You will receive Form 1042-S from your sponsor to report the taxable portion of your scholarship. If your scholarship is provided by an entity outside the United States you will not pay taxes to the U.S. on your scholarship. Check with your sponsor to determine if you have any U.S. tax obligations on your scholarship. 

Q.  My employer has deducted taxes from my paychecks. Do I still need to file a tax return?

  • The U.S. tax system is based on self-reporting of income. The law requires U.S. employers to withhold a standard percentage of tax from each employee and to pay that tax to the U.S. government. Individuals must file a tax return at the end of each year to determine whether they owe additional taxes or if their employer deducted too much tax and request a refund from the U.S. government.

I received Form 1042-S but no Form W-2. What should I do?

  • If you worked in the U.S. but have not received Form W-2 by February 1st, contact your employer to request a copy. If you did not work in the United States during the year or if all of your income was exempt under a tax treaty, you will not receive Form W-2.

Q.  I did not work in the U.S. this year and I did not receive any scholarships from any U.S. sources. What should I do?

  • If you were present in the U.S. in F or J immigration status during the year but had no U.S. source of income, you must file Form 8843(PDF) .

Q.   I arrived in the U.S. last December and I didn’t work. Do I still have to file Form 8843?

  • If you were in the U.S. in F or J status for even 1 day during the tax year, you must file Form 8843 for that year. 

Q.  What happens if I do not file a tax return?

  • If you have no tax liability, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not penalize you if you do not file (although you must still file Form 8843). However, the terms of your visa require that you stay in compliance with all laws of the United States, including income tax filing. If you want to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. at a later date you will be asked to prove that you have complied with all tax laws. If you owe additional tax for the year, you must file a return and pay those taxes on time to avoid late fees. The IRS charges substantial interest and penalties on past due taxes. 

Q.  I worked in another state for part of the year. What should I do?

  • In addition to your Federal tax return you must complete a tax return for each state in which you worked during the year. If you worked in Illinois and another state during the year, you'll need to file “part-year resident” forms for the other state(s) where you worked during the year. Multiple state tax returns can become complicated because you must report total income earned during the year to both states then calculate a prorated amount of tax applicable to the earnings from each state. If you need assistance please contact a tax professional. 

Q.   My friend filed Form 1040 and received a larger refund. Can I do that too?

  • Not legally. If you are a non-resident alien you must file 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Failure to file the correct form is fraud and can place your immigration status in jeopardy. The additional money you might receive is not worth the trouble. Do not use Turbo Tax.

Q.   I am a nonresident visitor and my employer withheld FICA taxes from my paycheck. Can I get a refund?

  • F-1 and J-1 nonresident aliens are exempt from FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes on wages earned from legal employment in the United States. If your employer withheld FICA taxes in error, you can request a refund. The law requires that you first ask your employer for a refund of the FICA taxes. If your employer refuses, please file the appropriate tax forms with the IRS to request a refund from the government. Please contact the IRS or a tax professional for assistance. Wages earned by those in J-2 status are not exempt from FICA taxes.

Q.   My American friend told me something different than what is written here. Which is correct?

  • Please contact a tax professional for assistance. The rules for non-residents are different from those for Americans. Sprintax has a 24 hour, 7 days a week available phone number as well as an online chat service available through their website.

Q.   Who should I contact if I have questions regarding tax issues?

  • If you have questions regarding tax issues, tax forms or anything in regards to federal taxes, please visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website or contact them by phone toll free at 1-800-829- 1040 or (217) 782-3336. Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

For State of Illinois tax inquiries, please visit the State Tax Commission website or contact them by phone toll free at 1-800-732-8866. Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Q. How long does it take to receive my tax return?

  • It may take up to four months.

Q.  I have more questions. Who do I ask?

Tax Sessions 

There will be two information sessions in
Horrabin Hall 25 for students to learn about  completing their 2019 tax forms:

  • Monday, March 16  9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
  • Friday, March 20 3:00 -4:00 p.m.

Resources