International Student and Scholar Taxes
The subject of taxation can be complicated for Americans, let alone visitors to the United States. UC International is here to assist you in any way we can.
Every year the US government (Federal) and the individual state governments (in most cases at UC, this would be Ohio), require that we file what is known as a Tax Return (Report) to each government. A tax “return” is a type of “report” that you will send to each government (Federal and State) that states how much you earned, were taxed, and should have been taxed in the past year.
EVERYONE who was in the United States in 2020 has to submit a Tax Report, even if you did not have any US income.
New UC Employees
If you are going to work and be paid by UC (student job, assistantship, faculty or staff), you will need to determine how much you should pay in federal taxes on your salary.
About the time you begin your employment, you will receive an email from our Tax Compliance office giving you instructions to log on to a system called Sprintax TDS. Enter the date necessary on this system and follow the instructions. If you did not receive instructions, or have questions about Sprintax TDS, contact the UC Tax Compliance department.
Do not use Sprintax TDS until you have your Social Security Number.
File your taxes
Most of you will have until April 15, 2021 to file this tax report for 2020. Some of you may get a refund (money returned because you paid too much in taxes), and some of you may owe money (because you did not pay enough taxes).
How you file a tax return depends on multiple factors, including the following:
- Whether you are a non-resident alien or resident alien in the United States
- If you have or have not received income in the past year
- If your country has or does not have a tax treaty with the United States
You must file a 2020 tax report if you were present in the United States (even for one day) any time between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 on the following visas:
- TN, or
This includes dependents (F-2, J-2), regardless of their age.
You are required to file a tax return even if you have no income from US sources, or if your income is exempt from US taxes due to treaties between the US and your home country.
Sources of US income may include the following:
- on-campus employment,
- graduate assistantships,
- practical or academic training, and
- any compensation received for labor.
Most foreign students do not have to pay taxes on interest paid to them by US banks. Note that "income" is not limited to wages paid to you in cash, but also includes that portion of your scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship that is applied to your housing and meal expenses. The portion applied to your tuition fees, books, and supplies is not counted as income. For example, University Graduate Scholarships (UGS) are not counted as income.
The payroll office and UC International will help you make these distinctions. Be sure to inquire about the applicability of any tax treaty that might exist between your country and the United States.
You need a Social Security number (SSN) if you are authorized for employment in the United States.
An ITIN is needed if you are not eligible to work in the United States but need a tax ID number to be paid an honorarium, certain scholarships or awards, or are being claimed on a Tax Return as a dependent.
If you do not file a tax return, you could be
- denied visas at US Embassies,
- denied future immigration benefits (such as H-1B and Permanent Residence)
- fined for not paying your taxes
If you owe the IRS money and don't have the money to pay the amount owed initially, an extension can be granted.
- Send in their tax return by April 15 with a letter requesting an installment agreement.
- You will pay penalties and interest on all amounts owed. There is also a fee for requesting an installment agreement.
- The amount owed must be substantial to qualify for an installment agreement.
If you are a nonresident and failed to file a tax return for a previous year, you can always do so now.
- Get a copy of the appropriate tax form (1040NR or NREZ) for the year in question and the 8843 for the tax year in question from the IRS website.
- Filing procedures are the same.
If taxes were owed for a previous year, you will be assessed interest and penalties. If you were entitled to a refund, the refund will be paid as long as the tax year is not more than 3 years in the past.
If you are a nonresident alien and discover an error in a prior year's return, you may submit an amended Form 1040-NR or 1040-NR EZ within three years of filing the original return or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later.
To amend a previously submitted Form 1040-NR or 1040-NR EZ, partially complete Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
You may may also use Form 1040-X if you are a resident alien who erroneously filed a nonresident return or a nonresident alien who submitted Form 1040, 1040-A, or 1040-EZ.
If you are currently a student at a different US institution (transferred out), we can no longer help you. Contact your current school for assistance.
If you have already returned home or are somewhere outside the Cincinnati area, there is assistance available to you. If you do not have access to iBearcatsGlobal, please contact James Tenney at James.Tenney@uc.edu.
In the Subject line, type “Long Distance Tax Help Request.” In the body of the message provide the following details:
- Last Name,
- First Name,
- UC M#,
- Date of Birth,
- Current Mailing Address,
- Current Immigration Status,
- Date that your Immigration Status began
He will arrange either software access, line by line instructions, or information on other forms of online help, depending on your particular tax situation.
Common Tax Documents
This section provides an overview of some of the most common tax documents. Not everyone will receive all of these documents. However, you need to know which documents are necessary to file your tax return.
W-2's are issued to anyone who worked and was paid wages by an employer during the previous year, unless all wages paid were exempt under a tax treaty at the time they were paid.
If you have not received a W-2 from UC by February 8, 2021 you can request a duplicate.
Do not use this link until after February 8, 2021. It may take some time for your W-2 to reach you.
If you worked off campus for another employer in the past year, be sure that the off-campus employer sends you a W-2 or 1099-MISC for that period of employment.
The Form 1042-S is issued to anyone who received a nonqualified scholarship or any amount paid as exempt under a tax treaty or certain types of fellowships in 2020. NOT EVERYONE will get a 1042-S.
University Graduate Scholarships (UGS) are not considered nonqualified scholarships. You will not receive a 1042-S reporting what you received in the form of a UGS.
However, you may receive a 1042-S if you received one or more of the following:
- A nonqualified scholarship for expenses other than tuition, such as grant in aid, an athletic scholarship, a fellowship that covers living expenses, or a stipend. NOTE: Some summertime fellowships may fall into this category.
- A Tax Treaty benefit, meaning that some, or all, of your 2020 salary was paid as exempt from Federal income tax by UC. You would have signed a Form 8233 at some point at UC International Services to take advantage of a treaty benefit.
- Sometimes, payments for student health insurance (payments made by UC departments in connection to an assistantship or some full UGS awards), may be reported.
However, if you meet one of the above criteria and you have not received an email regarding your Form 1042-S from UC by March 15, 2021, you can send an email to email@example.com – be sure to put “1042-S Question” in the Subject Line.
The 1042-S is not mailed. They will be available in Sprintax TDS (not to be confused with Spintax NR) after March 1. If you are using Sprintax NR to file your tax return (see Non-Resident Alien for Tax Purposes with US Income) there is a function in Sprintax TDS that will allow you to transfer the data to Sprintax NR. Or you can enter the details into Sprintax NR manually if you prefer (this will needed to be done if you received a 1042-S from a non-UC source).
If you are Chinese, entered the US as F-1 or J-1 and earned money this past year, you will most likely be receiving a 1042-S. This is not guaranteed. Check your UC email for instructions before you attempt to do a Federal Income Tax return.
Students who Switched from F-2 / J-2 to F-1 / J-1
If you entered as F-2 or J-2, later changed to F-1 or J-1, and worked on campus, you do not receive tax treaty benefits. Therefore, you will not receive a 1042-S reporting tax treaty protected income. You may get one for any fellowship positions you worked in 2020.
Indian F-1 Students
If you are an Indian Student on an F-1 visa and worked on campus in a student position, it is likely the only thing you will receive is a W-2.
However, you may also receive a 1042-S if you received any nonqualified scholarship payments or certain fellowships. Wait for your 1042-S to file your tax return if you believe you received something like this in 2020.
If you are a non-student (for example, a J-1 Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar) and received money from UC or CCHMC while claiming a tax treaty you will receive a Form 1042-S.
As a Non-Resident Alien for Tax Purposes, you DO NOT need to worry about getting this form. Students who were enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan will receive a 1095-C from United Healthcare, which provides our student health insurance plan. United Healthcare will issue that form. If you get one, put it away.
Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes DO NEED a Form 1095-C from each employer that they worked for that also provided health insurance benefits.
If you are student AND qualify as a Resident Alien for Tax Purposes AND you had the UC Student Health Insurance Plan in the past year, you will need a 1095-C from United Health Care. You can call them at 1-800-767-0700 to obtain this or ask questions.
Full-time UC employees (typically scholars, although also small number of students), will receive a Form 1095-C in the mail if they were enrolled or eligible for enrollment in a UC medical plan. The “UC medical plan” refers to employee plans, not the UC student health insurance plan.
The 1098-T is made available online in early January. IRS Form 1098-T, "Tuition Statement," is sent to everyone that had tuition expenses of some kind.
Form 1098-Ts should only be used by Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes, or US citizens. In most cases, if you are in the US under F-1 / J-1 immigration status, you should not need this form.
Some of you may receive one or more versions of form 1099. Not everyone will get a 1099.
A 1099 form is mailed to people to document incomes that would not be reported on a W-2 or 1042-S.
You may receive a 1099 for the following reasons:
- 1099-DIV: Money made on Stocks, Dividends, Bonds etc.
- 1099-G: Refund of your State of Ohio (or other state) Taxes from 2019 (not a typo--the refund of 2019 state taxes that you received in the year 2020 is now taxable by the Federal Government)
- 1099-INT: If you received interest on a savings account (most of you will not need to report this on your Federal Income Tax Return)
- 1099-R: Refund of any money you paid into PERS (Ohio retirement fund)
- 1099-MISC: Money paid to you as an independent contractor