Taxes in the United States
The United States tax system may seem confusing to international visitors. Many people in the United States pay licensed tax preparers or attorneys to interpret tax laws, forms and filing requirements. While International Support Services is not legally allowed to give individual tax advice, this general information should answer some of your basic questions. Specific questions regarding your taxes should be addressed to KU Legal Services for Students. If you have questions about tax treaties or think your tax withholding is incorrect, please contact the KU Payroll Office.
Every year about 6 weeks prior to the deadline for filing your taxes with the US government, Legal Services for Students will hold tax workshops. They are a fantastic resource and we strongly suggest you attend a workshop if this is your first year filing taxes. These workshops are for international students, international visiting scholars and international employees.
Filing Tax Requirements
Many International student/scholars/employees who have been in the United States must file (submit) an annual tax return by the following year’s tax filing deadline, April 15. Income that is taxed includes wages, scholarships and earnings on investments. International scholars must file a tax return even if the scholar did not work in the United States.
In the spring semester, the University of Kansas provides tax assistance software, GLACIER, to help international students, scholars and employees submit tax returns. The International Support Services will email you this information during February/March.
Tax Withholding and the W-4 Form
When a person is working in the United States, the employer is required to deduct a portion of the salary in each pay period which contributes to income taxes. At the start of your employment, you will complete a W-4 Form (Employees Withholding Allowance Certificate). The information on the form determines how much will be withheld from your paycheck for taxes. Your employer should be able to help you complete the W-4 Form if you have any questions. KU employees can contact the Payroll Office with specific questions.
In the United States, tax law divides people into resident alien and non-resident alien for tax purposes. Your tax status can be determined by the Substantial Presence Test (SPT). There are different rules for submitting taxes based on whether you are resident alien or non-resident alien. This status is your tax status and is not the same as your immigration status.
Non-Residents Aliens for Tax Purposes
You are required to fill out a mail-in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition” if you were in the United States for any part of the calendar year. This is true even if you had no income from the United States (U.S. source income).
If you received any U.S. source income during the calendar year, you may have to fill out and mail in IRS Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ in addition to Form 8843, depending on the kind and amount of U.S. source income you received.
Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes
Resident aliens for tax purposes follow the same guidelines and use the same forms as United States citizens.
- You should first determine your filing status by reading IRS Publications: Filing Status and then determine whether you are required to file a federal income tax form.
- You may not be required to file any tax forms at all if your gross income is below the threshold found in IRS Publication 501: Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers.
- If you are required to file a federal tax form, information about which form to file is at IRS Publication 17.
Some countries have tax treaty agreements with the United States in which certain types of income may be exempted from federal tax. General information on tax treaty benefits can be found in IRS Publication 901. If you are a KU employee, you may wish to discuss possible tax treaty with your Payroll Office representative when you begin employment.