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
As a Foreign National student or scholar, you may need to file tax forms each year with the IRS by May 17th, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations.
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. ISSS 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.
- IRS information for foreign students and scholars
- IRS website
- State of Illinois Department of Revenue website
- IRS Taxation of Nonresident Aliens webpage
- IRS free tax help
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for Tax Residents
- To find a tax consultant in the Champaign-Urbana area, search online for “Champaign Urbana Illinois Tax Consultants”.
Best practices To File your Taxes
- File your tax return as early as possible. The last day to file your tax return is May 17, 2021.
- 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.
IRS IMPERSONATION SCAM:
This scam is targeting individuals associated with educational institutions, specifically students and staff who have an “.edu” email address. The phishing emails seemingly come from “irs.gov”, display an impressive, yet fake IRS logo and use various subject lines, such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” The email directs the individual to click on a link and submit personal information to claim their tax refund. “IRS-impersonation” scam that is targeting individuals associated with educational institutions, specifically students and staff who have an “.edu” email address. The phishing emails seemingly come from “irs.gov”, display an impressive, yet fake IRS logo and use various subject lines, such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” The email directs the individual to click on a link and submit personal information to claim their tax refund.
INDIVIDUALS WHO RECEIVE THIS SCAM EMAIL SHOULD NOT CLICK ON ANY LINK IN THE EMAIL.
As a reminder, the IRS will NOT initiate email contact with a taxpayer without consent. The 2020 tax return is the first year that the IRS has included the option for the taxpayer to insert an email address. IF the taxpayer inserts an email address, the IRS may choose to send an email; however, any email from the IRS will NOT include links to claim a refund or ask for any secure information such as social security number, date of birth or bank account information.
The IRS asks that individuals who receive such an email to please send it to them. For security reasons, they should not forward the email, rather they should save the email using “save as” and then send that as an attachment to email@example.com or forward the email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org .
GLACIER Tax Prep
GLACIER Tax Prep© is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students, scholars, and others. Access information will be sent to students and scholars by mid-February. If you do not receive this e-mail, please contact ISSS. Please also make sure that you check your spam filters to add our email address (students) email@example.com/(scholars) firstname.lastname@example.org, to ensure that you receive all emails regarding GLACIER Tax Prep. Access to GLACIER Tax Prep will expire in June.
Fulbright sponsored J-1s should not use the GLACIER Tax Prep. All other non-University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign sponsored J-1 should check with their program sponsors to determine if they will provide them with assistance first.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Both Federal (U.S. government) and State of Illinois tax returns are due on May 17, 2021.
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.
Yes. 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.
This depends on your tax status. Generally, nonresident international students and scholars use form 1040-NR for their Federal (U.S. government) taxes. "NR" means non-resident for tax purposes. Individuals who are residents for tax purposes use the same 1040 forms as U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents. GLACIER Tax Prep software will determine if you are a resident or a nonresident for tax purposes. All F and J international students and scholars (including dependents – F2 or J2) who had no US income must file Form 8843.
GLACIER 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) 1040-NR and 8843.
Access to GLACIER Tax Prep will be done via Sunapsis. ISSS will send you an email in February with the instructions on how to access the software.
No, once you have used the GLACIER Tax Prep software, you cannot be issued a refund.
Generally, F-1 and J-1 students are considered nonresidents for tax purposes for five calendar years regardless of date of entry (e.g., Anna enters the U.S. as a F-1 Student on August 6, 2016, she will remain in Nonresident Alien Tax Status through December 31, 2020). This period is shortened to two calendar years for J-1 Research Scholars and Professors. Visit the IRS Substantial Presence Test webpage for more information. Your tax status (nonresident 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. GLACIER Tax Prep will automatically determine your residency status for tax purposes. Foreign Nationals who are considered residents for tax purposes should not use GLACIER Tax Prep.
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
- 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.
- 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)
- U.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)
- A copy of the previous year's federal income tax return, if filed
Form W-2 is a summary of total wages earned in the U.S. and taxes withheld for the calendar year. Form 1042S summarizes taxable scholarships and fellowships and any income exempt from tax under a tax treaty.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (or your employer for OPT or CPT) will mail a paper W-2 and/or paper 1042-S forms via the U.S. Postal Service. The university also offers employees the option to receive their W-2 and/or 1042-S form electronically. If you are employed by the university you may access your W-2 online via NESSIE. Information about requesting duplicate tax forms, wages and withholdings information can be found on the OBFS payroll webpage.
If all of your employment-based income was exempt from tax under a tax treaty or if you only received a scholarship or a fellowship, then you will not receive a W-2. If you had taxes withheld from employment-based income and have not received your Form W-2 by January 31st, contact your employer(s).
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 from your employer first. If your employer refuses, please file the appropriate tax forms (Form 843) 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 H-1B and J-2 status are not exempt from FICA taxes.
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 IRS tax treaties webpage. The Office of Business and Financial Services can assist Foreign Nationals with tax treaty benefit analysis. Please visit the OBFS website.
All resident and nonresident aliens for tax purposes who earned income in the State of Illinois in 2020 must complete and file Illinois Form 1040. If you worked in another state in 2020, then you will need to file a return for that state. You may be able to use an additional software, Sprintax, to complete your IL 1040, but it will cost an additional fee. Please note that the State of Illinois considers the term “nonresidents” as someone who has lived in a different U.S. state other than Illinois.
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 the State of 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.
1040-NR Tax Returns may be submitted to the IRS via e-file or mail.
If you are e-filing, please review https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040nr.pdf
If you are not enclosing a payment, mail 1040-NR to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215
If you are enclosing a payment, mail 1040-NR to:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303
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.
Yes. 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 by June 15, 2021.
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.
Not legally. If you are a non-resident alien you must file 1040NR. 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.
Please contact a tax professional for assistance. The rules for non-residents are different from those for Americans.
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. You may also call the Philadelphia Office at (267) 941-1000. This is not a toll-free number, but the operators are familiar with nonresident tax issues. 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.
An ITIN is an Individual Tax Identification Number. The IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals who have federal tax reporting requirements but are not eligible for a social security number. There are several ways to apply for an ITIN, including visiting a Certified Authorized Agent in the Champaign-Urbana area. More information about ITINs can be found on the IRS website. A list of local Certified Authorized Agents has been provided by Student Legal Services and can be accessed by following these steps from the Dean of Students .
It may take up to four months.
Please use the helpful websites listed in this page for assistance. If your question is related to GLACIER Tax Prep please use the resources available in their Menu page.
If you believe that you may have filed the incorrect Federal tax return, call the IRS at 1-800-829- 1040 or (217) 782-3336. They will provide instructions for how to amend your federal tax return. You will most likely need to correct your state tax return, too. Instructions for how to correct your State of Illinois tax return may be found here
Since you had completed the degree requirements and the program end date of your immigration document was not within tax year 2020, you did not receive the email.