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U. S. Taxes

Helpful information and resources for federal and state taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State of California may require F-1 and/or J-1 visa students to file income taxes.

Tax Information for F-1 and J-1 Visa Students

What is Federal and State Income Tax?

  • Federal and state taxes may be withheld from your paychecks from income or scholarships from sources within the U.S.
  • There is a possibility to get a refund if you paid too much tax in payroll deductions
  • The U.S. government (IRS) requires you to submit a federal tax return form if you earned any money or received a scholarship in the previous calendar year. The IRS requires most international students and scholars to file a Form 8843 regardless of whether they are filing a tax return
  • The State of California Franchise Tax Board has a separate filing process for tax returns

Tax Preparation Services

Sprintax Non-Resident Tax Filing is a low-cost online tax preparation service.

Gary R. Engler & Company, Certified Public Accountants & Advisors is a tax preparation service for international students and scholars.

Forms you may receive

Check with your tax preparer about what to do with these forms you will receive prior to submitting your tax return:

  • W-2: If you worked in the U.S. in the previous year, you should be looking for a Form W-2 from your employer to arrive sometime in January or February. If you moved, contact the payroll office of your employer(s) or school(s) and give them your current mailing address right away
  • 1098-T: Cal Poly will send you this form that states how much scholarship money you received
  • 1042-S: Cal Poly will send you this form that states how much you paid in tuition for the year

Forms you file

Form 8843

Form 8843 is required for everyone who does not meet the Substantial Presence Test who was in the U.S. the previous year regardless of whether you earned money or received a scholarship

  • Form 8843 provides proof that you should not be considered a resident for tax purposes for the past tax year. If you are not considered residents for tax purposes you are responsible to pay lower income tax. This is important if you plan to be here more than a couple of years over the next few years
  • If you are filing a tax return, you will submit the 8843 along with your Federal Tax return (1040-NR or 1040-NR-EZ)
  • If you don’t have to submit a tax return and do NOT qualify as a resident for tax purposes, then just submit the 8843 to the address on page 3 of the instructions

Tips for Students

Sample Form for Students

Form 8843 with Instructions

Non-Resident Federal Income Tax Form

1040-NR Form

This form is filed if you made money or received a scholarship from an organization in the U.S.

1040-NR (PDF)

Read the following instructions to see if you qualify to use the 1040-NR form.

1040-NR Instructions (PDF)

Non-Resident State of California Income Tax Form

540NR California State Income Tax Form

This form is filed to the State of California if you made money or received a scholarship from a U.S. organization.

To download the form and instructions, search for the keyword “540NR” in the

List of State of California Income Tax Forms

Other U.S. State Tax Forms

If you earned wages or collected a scholarship funds while you lived in another U.S. state besides California last year, you need to submit a tax return to that state.

Other U.S. State Tax Forms

Filing dates and where to mail forms

  • Check your form for the filing date. The date is usually on or around April 15th.
  • Mail your tax return to the address on each form. Send your 8843 with your Federal tax form 1040NR or 1040NR EZ. If you are not filing a tax return, you submit the form 8843 to the address on the instructions sheet.
  • Retain photocopies of all completed tax return forms and any documents submitted.
  • Do NOT bring your forms to the International Center. We are not tax experts and we cannot submit your forms for you.

Helpful Resources