Filing U.S. Taxes

Every international student and scholar must file a US tax return, regardless of whether or not they receive income. Federal tax returns are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Missouri state tax returns are filed with the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Taxes must be filed by April 15 of the current calendar year for the previous calendar year (January 1 – December 31). For example taxes for January 1, 2020-December 31, 2020 are filed by April 15, 2021.

2020 TAX FILING DEADLINE EXTENSIONS:

  • The IRS announced that it is extending the April 15 filing deadline for 2020 federal taxes to May 17, 2021. This means that you must mail your federal tax return and supporting documentation to the IRS by May 17, 2021.
  • The Governor of Missouri announced that the May 17, 2021 extension also applies to the 2020 Missouri state tax filing deadline. Please note that this extension may not apply to all states, and it is your responsibility to ensure you file state and federal taxes on time, according to their respective deadlines.

“Filing taxes” is the process of preparing and mailing the tax returns and required documentation to the IRS and/or state department of revenue office.

“Tax return” or “return” refers to the actual tax form (1040NR) and accompanying forms (Form 8843) that you will submit to the government.

The staff of the Office for International Students and Scholars is not trained in tax laws, cannot give tax advice or assist with the filing of your return, and does not endorse any listed services. We are providing this information to you to help you meet the requirement of filing your tax return.

U.S. Tax Timeline

Preceding Calendar Year:

  • International Students and Scholars are physically present in the US or receive US income.

January – March, Current Calendar Year:

  • International Students and Scholars receive tax documents from Washington University (and any other US organizations from whom you received income).

March, Current Calendar Year:

  • Internationals who are Nonresident Aliens for Tax Purposes will receive an email from GLACIER with their GTP code. They will use GTP to prepare their federal tax return, using the data from the tax documents they received from WashU (and other organizations). They also prepare any required state tax returns.
  • Internationals who are Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes will use other resources to prepare their federal tax return, using the data from the tax documents they received from WashU (and other organizations). They also prepare any required state tax returns.

April 15, Current Calendar Year: You must file taxes by April 15 for the current calendar year.

  • All Internationals will print their tax returns and will mail their federal tax returns and supporting documents to the IRS.
  • All Internationals will prepare and print their state tax returns and will mail their state tax returns and supporting documents to the appropriate state offices.

Tax Documents You May Receive

You may be sent the following documents between January and March if you received US income during the previous tax year. You will use the information in these documents to prepare your tax return.

Form Description of Form
W-2 Form W-2 is used to report wages and salary paid by an employer to an employee. The W-2 also reports the amount of federal, state, and other taxes withheld from your paycheck. If you have worked in the US during the tax year and received wages or a salary, you will receive a W-2 from your employer.
1042-S Form 1042-S is used to report income paid to a nonresident, such as payments to an employee exempt under a tax treaty and payments for scholarship or fellowship grants. A nonresident employee could potentially receive both a Form 1042-S and Form W-2 or only a Form W-2 if they did not claim a tax treaty allowance.
1099 Form 1099 is used to report various types of income other than a salary paid by an employer. If you worked as an independent contractor, for example, you would receive a 1099 from your employer instead of a W-2.
1095-C Form 1095-C is a health insurance tax form that shows that post-doctoral scholars and associates (and dependents, if applicable) had minimum essential coverage for the prior year.
1095-B Form 1095-B is a health insurance tax form that shows that students (and dependents, if applicable) had minimum essential coverage for the prior year.

WHO TO CALL WITH QUESTIONS

International Students & Scholars can email questions about tax documents issued by Washington University in St. Louis to the WashU Payroll Office.

If your employer was not WashU and you have questions about your forms, you should contact your employer.

Taxpayer Identification Numbers – SSN or ITIN

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (SSN)

The Social Security Number, or SSN, is a nine-digit number issued to US citizens, permanent residents, and nonresident aliens who are eligible to work in the US. The SSN is used to report wages to the government, track Social Security benefits, and for other identification purposes. F-1 students who are not working do not need an SSN. Internationals who are employed on campus or students who have CPT/OPT work authorization are eligible to apply for an SSN. You can read more about SSNs and how to apply for one here.

INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (ITIN)

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, is a nine-digit tax processing number issued to individuals who are not eligible to receive a SSN, but still need to file taxes. If you are not employed, but received taxable income in the US, you should use tax Form W-7 to apply for an ITIN. You can read more about ITINs and how to apply for one here.

Filing Form 8843

Form 8843 is an informational statement required by the U.S. government for all nonresident aliens who entered the U.S. with visa types F, J, M, Q, including any dependents. This means that whether or not you received income, you must file Form 8843.

Though Form 8843 is not a tax return, when the OISS documentation cites “tax return” or “return,” we are referring to the actual tax return (1040NR) and accompanying forms, such as Form 8843.

If you had no earnings or other monetary activity to report to the IRS and will only file Form 8843:

  • Form 8843 is the only form you must file. Completed forms should be sent to: Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service Center Austin, TX 73301-0215
  • Please be aware that each individual who files only Form 8843 must not send it with anyone else’s form. This means the forms for your dependents (spouse and children) should each be sent in their own separate envelopes.

If you had income in the form of salary, stipend, or other monetary activity, and will file Form 8843 and a tax return:

  • You should include Form 8843 with your tax return.
  • If you are filing Form 8843 for an F-2 or J-2 dependent that is also claimed as a dependent on a tax return, include their forms 8843 with the tax return on which they are claimed.

Nonresident Aliens for Tax Purposes can use GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) can complete Form 8843 while using GTP to prepare their tax return.

Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes are not eligible for GTP, and should visit the IRS website for instructions on downloading and completing Form 8843.

GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) used by Nonresident Aliens for Tax Purposes

GTP is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for international students, scholars, and their dependents who are nonresident aliens. Features of GTP include:

  • Verifying each type of payment for any applicable income tax treaty exemptions
  • Completing the correct U.S. income tax return – Form 1040NR
  • Preparing any additional statements or attachments, as applicable – Form 2106, Form 8843, Schedule C, and/or Scholarship/Fellowship Grant statement
  • Printing the tax return and all attachments (please note, the IRS does not allow nonresident aliens to file a tax return electronically)
  • Providing instructions for mailing the tax return and all documents to the IRS

WashU makes this program available at no cost to WashU-sponsored students and scholars. Access codes will be sent to WashU-sponsored students and scholars in March. The email will be sent by Arctic International, the company that owns GTP, so check your inbox and spam folders for an email from @glaciertax.com. If you have not received a code by March 20 or if you lost your code, please submit the GLACIER Access Code Request Form.

OPTIONAL STATE TAX RETURN ASSISTANCE

After you have finished the federal tax return, if you are also required to file a state tax return, you will have the opportunity to leave GTP and use another online tax preparation system, Sprintax, to assist you in preparing your state tax return. You must pay a fee to use Sprintax.

It is important to note that Arctic International LLC and Sprintax are two separate legal entities with separate responsibilities: Arctic International LLC provides GTP to prepare a FEDERAL tax return; Sprintax prepares a STATE tax return. Neither is responsible for the other’s activities.

If you choose not to use Sprintax, check the Missouri State Tax Return section below for additional filing assistance options.

Resources for Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes
If you have attempted to use GTP and the program says you are a “Resident Alien for Tax Purposes,” then you cannot use GTP to complete your tax return. The good news is that as a Resident Alien for Tax Purposes, you are able to file your taxes online and have access to a number of programs that prepare return, many of them are free.

If you prefer to have in-person assistance, you may be able to take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an IRS-sponsored program that offers free tax help to qualified individuals. See below for more information about VITA.

IRS RESOURCES

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with free electronic filing to qualified individuals.

There are VITA sites around St. Louis that have different dates/times available. You can find VITA sites near you on the IRS website at Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers or Metro-St. Louis Community Tax Coalition.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Information & Assistance (for Federal Tax Returns)
The IRS has resources available to help with the filing of both nonresident and resident federal tax returns.

You may also be able to get assistance from the IRS Taxpayer Assistance office. Appointments are required. Find out how to contact your local office.

Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) Information & Assistance (for State Tax Returns)

The Missouri DOR has resources available to help you file your Missouri state tax return. Remember, your state tax return is different from the federal return.

Avoid Scams

Beware of scams! The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never contact you via email, text message, or social media.

Any electronic communication from someone who claims to be the IRS should not be opened, as it likely contains some sort of virus or malware. Never provide your Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to anyone via email, text message, or social media.

Learn more from the IRS about tax scams, or about avoiding scams in general.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can someone at WashU help me prepare my US taxes?

Unfortunately, neither Washington University nor the OISS is able to provide assistance or advice regarding filing taxes. Please see the above resources for more information.

Can I pay someone to prepare my US taxes?

If you are unable to file taxes or are uncomfortable using the resources listed here, you can hire an accountant who understands international taxation. Search for an accountant on one of the following online directories:

If you choose to hire an accountant, ask questions to determine if they understand international taxation and nonresident taxes. Be sure to ask about tax treaties, Nonresident Alien exemptions, and deductions on tax returns.

I am on OPT or STEM OPT and did not get a GLACIER code to use GTP to prepare my tax return. How can I get one now?

You can request a GTP code on our online request form. Check your Washington University email address for an email from @glaciertax.com. Students have access to their WashU email account after graduating.

I graduated last year and am no longer in the US. Do I still need to file US taxes for last year?

Yes, if you were physically present in the US or received US income during the previous calendar year, you would need to file taxes, even if you have returned home and are not in the US currently.

International students and scholars can prepare their tax return from outside the US and mail it to the IRS from abroad. Internationals who are nonresidents for tax purposes can use GTP to prepare their tax return from abroad. Check your Washington University email address for an email from @glaciertax.com. Students have access to their WashU email account after graduating. Internationals may also need to file the appropriate state taxes and mail them from abroad as well.

How do I know if I need to file US taxes?

Every international student and scholar must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you were physically present in the US during the previous calendar year, you would need to file taxes, even if you did not earn income. You may also need to file state taxes.

What if I did not work or earn any money in the US?

For the purpose of filing taxes, “income” refers to money earned while working in the US, as well as money received in other ways. For example, if you are the recipient of a scholarship, stipend, or grant in the US, those funds could be considered taxable “income,” and you would have to file a tax return (form 1040NR).  If you are a Nonresident Alien and did not have any income in the last calendar year (January 1-December 31), you still need to file Form 8843.

I was not able to travel to the US because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do I still need to file taxes?

If you received income from the US, you may need to file taxes, even though you were not physically present in the US and were studying from outside of the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should contact the WashU Tax Office if you have questions about this.

What if I was in the US in a previous tax year and did not file taxes?

You can file taxes for previous years. You should file the prior year tax return as soon as possible. You can download prior year tax return forms at IRS.gov and complete the returns yourself. Or, if you are a Nonresident Alien for Tax Purposes, you can purchase a prior year tax code from GLACIER Tax Prep to use GTP to prepare the tax returns for previous years. Contact the WashU Tax Office with questions about your tax documents from the university for previous years.

How do I know if I owe the government taxes or if the government will give me a refund for the taxes that were already withheld?

You will not know if you owe money or if you are due a refund from the government until you prepare your tax return.