Tax Guidelines for International Students
Filing tax forms is a yearly event in the U.S. Taxes and immigration status forms are based on the January 1 – December 31 calendar year.
Tax forms are due to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by April 18 of the following year. For instance, to file 2020 tax and status forms with the IRS, the deadline is April 18, 2022.
If April 18 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the IRS typically moves the reporting deadline back by a few days.
All international students and scholars in F and J visa status who were in the U.S. for any period of time during any calendar year must file a federal tax statement Form 8843. Some international students and scholars will need to file a state tax return(s).
If you did not have any U.S. source income, you may only file Form 8843. If you have U.S. source income, you will file Form 8843 and others based on your resident or non-resident filing status. Failing to file your taxes can violate your F- or J-visa immigration status.
For those who earned money while working in the United States, filing a tax form could mean a refund. However, a refund is not guaranteed.
How Do I File U.S. Tax Forms?
International Services offers Tax Workshops in February, March and April of each year to help students understand the process. Find more details about these workshops on the ISSS Facebook page.
Step 1: Determine your filing status as a non-resident vs. resident
- F-1 status individuals who have lived in the U.S. for more than any part of five (5) calendar years file as a resident. This includes previous F or J student status, such as a high school exchange student.
- J-1 scholars who have lived in the U.S. for more than any part of two (2) calendar years.
Most international students at WSU are considered non-resident for tax purposes.
Your filing status is for tax purposes only. Being a resident for tax purposes does not mean that you are eligible for any Minnesota state system tuition rates, etc.
Step 2: Determine the right resources for reporting your U.S. federal tax requirements
It is wise to consult a tax adviser to assist with your tax reporting requirements, and there are several in the Winona area.
Forms vary based on income, investments and other personal details.
If you did not earn any income in the U.S. during the previous calendar year, you still need to file Form 8843 to confirm the number of days that you spent in the U.S. during the previous calendar year.
Simply print off Form 8843, fill it out and mail it to the address included in the instructions.
If you earned any income, it gets more complicated based on any tax treaty that exists between your home country and the United States, any social security tax that might have been withheld and how much you earned.
We suggest using one of the online options to learn more details and file your tax return:
The IRS Multi-Lingual Gateway is also a good resource of information.
Step 3: Determine if you need to report your tax information to the state of Minnesota
As noted on the Minnesota Department of Revenue website, you should “[u]se the same filing status to file your Minnesota return that you used to file your federal return. Put an X in the oval box for your filing status.”
As with the federal reporting requirements, these may be different based on your situation. We suggest you consult with a tax professional for assistance.
Minnesota taxes follow the same guidelines as the federal return form 1040NR.
The M-1 form (PDF) is required for single students earning income above $10,400. Income includes scholarship or grant money along with earnings from employment.
If you are self-employed and have earned $400 or more in the current tax year, then you will need to file taxes.
Please check the State Revenue website for guidelines as to who needs to file. You may be able to file your state tax return with one of the online options listed above.
Are You Renting an Apartment, House or Townhouse in Minnesota?
According to the MN state revenue website, you do not qualify for a refund if "you are a nonresident alien living in Minnesota and:
- your gross income was less than $4,050, and
- you received more than 50 percent of your support from a relative."
If you earned more than $4,050 income and receive less than 50 percent of your financial support from a relative, you should file the M1-PR form. You may be eligible for a refund.