Frequently Asked Tax Questions
- 1. What happens if I fail to file my taxes?
- If you owe taxes and don't file, the IRS can assess penalty and interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt.
- There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file taxes. Applicants for permanent residency "green cards" are frequently asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.
- 2. I'm an F-1 or J-1 student and I had no U.S. earned income or scholarships for 2012. Do I need to file?
- Yes. You must file IRS Form 8843. Dependents in F-2 and J-2 status must also file Form 8843.
- 3. I only arrived in the U.S. in December of 2012 and I didn't work. Do I still have to file Form 8843?
- Yes. If you were in the U.S. even 1 day in 2012, you must file Form 8843.
- 4. I had bank interest on my checking or savings accounts. Is that earned income and must I file other tax forms?
- No. Simple bank interest and interest on CD's are not considered earned income for non-resident aliens, and therefore are not reportable. Your bank generally reports this interest on Form 1099 and you should retain this form for your records, but not mail it with your tax filing. If you file taxes as a "resident alien" using form 1040, bank interest is taxable income.
- 5. I only worked for a very short time in 2012 and I didn't earn very much. Do I still have to file?
- Yes. If you had any U.S. source earned income or scholarship you will need to file IRS Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR and Form 8843.
- 6. I'm married and have a child who was born in the U.S. Can I claim personal exemptions for my wife and child?
- Generally, no. Only students & scholars from certain countries can claim exemptions for their dependents (Mexico, Canada, Korea, Japan. and India.).
- 7. I am a non-resident for tax purposes. Can I claim the HOPE or Tuition Tax Credit or the Earned Income Credit?
- No. Nonresident aliens can not claim the HOPE or Tuition Tax Credit or the Earned Income Credit. Once you qualify to file as a resident alien for tax purposes, you may be eligible to claim these credits.
- 8. Can I use my WPI Student ID number as my tax payer identification number?
- No. You must have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). See Social Security: FAQ for more information.
- 9. My country has a tax treaty with the U.S. and I earned below $5000, which is the amount of wages exempt by my treaty. Do I still need to file?
- Yes. You must file Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR. In the case where you earned more than the exempt amount of your treaty, you may receive both a Form W-2 and a Form 1042-S or you may just receive only a Form 1042-S.
- 10. I had a teaching assistantship or research assistantship at WPI. Is this the same as a scholarship or fellowship?
- No. TA and RA salary payments are not considered scholarships or fellowships. Income from TA and RA positions is considered earned income and is taxable.
- 11. I had a TA or RA position. Can I deduct or exclude the cost of my tuition, books and/or fees?
- No. Only those students who had bona fide scholarships or fellowships (no work was required as a condition of receiving the award) may deduct expenses paid for tuition, books and fees up to the amount of the scholarship/fellowship.
- 12. I am a student from India. Can I claim the standard deduction?
- Yes. Due to a tax treaty provision, ONLY students from India may claim the standard deduction on the non-resident forms. Note: Visiting Scholars and Researchers from India cannot claim the standard deduction.
- 13. Should I keep copies of my tax return and other tax forms?
- Yes. Always keep copies of your tax return, W-2, 1042-S, 1099 bank interest statements and any other pertinent forms as proof that you have filed. The IRS can audit individual returns for up to 3 years following the filing deadline and your tax records are essential in proving your case.
- 14. What is the deadline for filing my tax return?
- If you are filing Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR, the deadline to file is April 16, 2013. If you are filing Form 8843 only, the deadline to file is June 15, 2013, although we recommend submitting the form before the end of tax season on April 16.
15. If I owe tax, to whom do I make the check payable?
If you owe, make checks payable to United States Treasury. Make sure that your Social Security Number is on the check and that in the memo section you write, "For 2012 Income Taxes."
16. Where do I mail my Federal tax return?
Forms should be sent to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-2015
17. I am leaving the country before I can file my taxes. What should I do?
Make sure the Payroll Office has your foreign address so that your Form W-2 and/or Form 1042-S can be mailed to you. Download the appropriate forms and instructions and file your U.S. taxes from abroad. Save copies of all forms submitted for your records.