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 2020. Do I need to file?
- 3. I only arrived in the U.S. in December of 2020 and I didn't work. Do I still have to 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 2020 and I didn't earn very much. Do I still have to file?
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 (Mexico, Canada, Korea, Japan, and India) can claim exemptions for their dependents due to tax treaty benefits.
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 cannot 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?
- 9. My country has a tax treaty with the U.S. and I earned below $5,000, which is the amount of wages exempt by my treaty. Do I still need to file?
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. In addition, if you decide to file for Permanent Residence ("Green Card") in the future, part of the application looks at your previous 3 years of tax documentation.
- 14. What is the deadline for filing my tax return?
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 2019 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. If you don't receive your forms by mid-February, make sure to contact the payroll office for your employer/WPI, and have them mailed or scanned to you abroad. Download the appropriate forms and instructions (PDF) and file your U.S. taxes from abroad. Save copies of all forms submitted for your records.