U.S. Taxes

Bunnell statue in a sunsetEvery spring between January 1 and April 15, residents of the United States prepare and submit annual tax reports for the preceding calendar year.  If U.S. income is received a tax return must be filed with the IRS by April 15.  International students are required to submit the IRS form 8843, even if they have not received any income in the U.S.  This form documents non-resident status.

IMPORTANT: Keep all of your receipts, copies of your tax forms and the Glacier Compliance report in one place (a large envelope). You should keep these records as long as you may be employed in the U.S. during your professional career.  In the future, if you apply for different visa categories, the immigration service has the right to ask for copies of all previous visa and tax documents.  UAF does not keep these records beyond three years.

Resident or Non-Resident for U.S. Tax Purposes

If you are receiving any kind of payment or award from UAF, you will be asked to complete information through the Glacier Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance System, commonly referred to as Glacier Immigration at UAF. The Glacier report will advise if you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes. This is important so that UAF makes all payments in compliance with U.S. tax regulations. You will receive an email with the Glacier Online Tax Compliance log-in information from your hiring department payroll/personnel staff person or Accounts Payable if you are required to provide forms and documents.
Glacier link

Simplified explanation for determining tax residency:
Special consideration for F and J statuses:  Generally, students in F-1 and J-1 status will be non-residents for their first 5 years of presence in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status.  J-1 Scholars and Student Interns will be non-residents for the first 2 years they are in the U.S. in J-1 status.  The years are any part of a calendar year.  For example a person arriving in F-1 status on December 31, uses one full year by arriving on that day.  Once the total number of years has been reached, generally if the person is in the U.S. for at least 183 days, they will be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes.  The Substantial Presence Test (SPT) must be performed.  See the calculation explanation below. 

For all other immigration statuses:  the possibility of gaining resident status begins the first year you are present in the U.S.  The SPT is calculated on a rolling three years.  The person must be present in the current year under consideration for at least 31 days, add the total number of days present in the U.S. in the previous year divided by 3; add the total number of days present in the U.S. in the second previous year divided by 6.  If the total is less that 183 days, the person is a nonresident for U.S. tax purposes.  If the total is equal to or greater than 183, the person is a resident for U.S. tax purposes.  For UAF employees and others receiving payments from UAF, this will be calculated through Glacier.  The residency test is referred to as the Substantial Presence Test (SPT).  If you are not receiving any form of payment from UAF, you will not be in the Glacier system and will need to have the test performed manually.     Again, this is a very simplified explanation.  The difference between a resident and non-resident is that different tax forms are required for those required to file a U.S. tax return and residents are subject to the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.   If you have questions, contact IPI.

Payroll Income

If you are employed by UAF in any kind of position, but generally as a Research or Teaching Assistant or student employee, you will be required to complete and submit payroll withholding forms through your departmental Payroll/Personnel Assistant to UAF Human Resources. The forms and related documentation allow UAF to appropriately process any U.S. tax withholding required. 

The following forms will be prepared during the Glacier Immigration process. This will enable UAF to process your pay with the proper tax withholding assessed. Forms will need to be submitted to your department assistant responsible for payroll. This person is usually referred to as the Payroll/Personnel Assistant (PPA).

IRS Form: W-4

In addition, if you are eligible to claim Tax Treaty Benefits you will need to complete and submit the following:

IRS Form: 8233

Letter to accompany Form 8233, if required. (See your department Payroll/Personnel Assistant to obtain the letter.)

Fellowship/Scholarship Income:
This is money that is not paid through the payroll system. It is paid by a monthly check, deposited into your bank account or posted to your student account. Students are not required to teach or do research. Depending on the type of fellowship or scholarship awarded, U.S. federal income tax will either be deducted from the award or added to the student account at a required tax rate of 14%. Examples: Graduate School Thesis Completion Award, EPSCOR Fellowship, Athletic Award. If you are eligible to claim Tax Treaty Benefits for fellowship/scholarship income, you must complete the IRS Form W-8BEN to claim the benefit. This form will be prepared through the Glacier system. It must be submitted to the UAF Financial Services Office with the required immigration documentation.

Tax Treaty Benefits:
Note that these may be different based on the type of income. The U.S. may have tax treaty agreements with countries that provide benefits for payroll income, but not for scholarship income and vice versa. If you are do not know if you are eligible to claim tax treaty benefits, contact your department PPA or International Student/Scholar Advisor for assistance. Also, if you do not formally claim the benefits in advance, you may claim them on the tax return when it is filed.

Tuition Awards:
Tuition awards are a form of scholarship posted directly to student accounts which pay some or all of the tuition for the specified semester. Students receiving tuition awards will be asked to establish a Glacier system account.

Additional Information:
If you are directed to establish a Glacier Compliance account, in addition to the tax forms (W-4, 8233 and/or W8-BEN) and Glacier report, you will be required to provide copies of the following: passport identification page, visa page, electronic I-94, current entry stamp and I-20 or DS-2019.) This will be specified in the Glacier email instruction. Note: Canadians are not required to have a U.S. visa for entry to the U.S.)

Forms Issued by UA:
If you are working, and all or part of your income is NOT exempt by treaty, you will receive a Form W-2 at the end of January.DO NOT SUBMIT (REPORT) TAX FORMS in January. You might receive additional tax forms in March.

You will also receive a Form 1098-T at the end of January. If the Form 1098-T states that you received a scholarship from the University, you may receive a Form 1042-S after March 15th. This form is also referred to as the “useless” form as it serves no purpose for international students.

If you have income that was exempted from income tax withholding because of tax treaty benefits that you claimed by filing an IRS Form 8233 or if you received a taxable and reportable scholarship or fellowship, you should receive a Form 1042-S. This form is required to be mailed to recipients from UA by March 15.

Tax Return Filing:
Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ must be completed and mailed to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by April 15 of the following calendar year.

Information and help in completing your U.S. income tax return (form 1040-NR or 1040-NR-EZ) will be available after the spring break in March. For more information, visit our Tax Informationpage.

DO NOT FILE YOUR TAXES ON A FORM 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND EXCHANGE VISITORS WHO ARE CONSIDERED NON-RESIDENTS FOR U.S. TAX PURPOSES MUST USE THE FORM 1040-NR OR THE FORM 1040-NR-EZ. Also, do not use tax return preparation software that has not been specifically recommended by the Office of International Programs and Initiatives. Most tax preparation software available for sale does not prepare non-resident tax returns.

EXCEPTION: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERED A RESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES ONLY, YOU WILL USE THE FORM 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Generally, this applies if you have been in the U.S. longer than 5 years in F-1 or J-1 student status. If you are unsure of your tax residence status, please contact the Office of International Programs and Initiatives.

Definitions:

  • Assistantship: Financial award to a student that requires services specified in award agreement. (You are on payroll, submit a timesheet and receive a paycheck. Example: teaching or research assistant).
  • Income: Any money you receive in the U.S. from a U.S. source. (Example: University paycheck, direct deposit or scholarship.)
  • Fellowship or Scholarship: Financial award to a student for purposes of study; may include tuition waiver; no services to the department or university are required. (You are not on payroll, no timesheet is submitted and no paycheck is received.) You may receive a monthly check through Accounts Payable at UAF Financial Services. These awards may be subject to tax withholding. See qualified and non-qualified scholarship below.
  • Stipend: May be any of the above types of payments. It may be subject to tax depending on any requirements placed on the individual receiving the award.
  • Qualified scholarship: Financial award to a student for tuition, book and required fee expenses; not subject to tax withholding. (Example: tuition waiver.)
  • Non-qualified scholarship: Financial award to a student for expenses other than those included in qualified scholarship; withholding of tax occurs at 14% unless exempted under U.S. regulations. (Example: room and meal plan charges.)
  • Tax Treaty: An agreement between the U.S. and some foreign countries exempting certain types of payments from U.S. income tax withholding.
  • Tax Withholding: Prepayment of U.S. tax on money received from U.S. source. Example: U.S. Federal Income Tax.
  • Filing your tax return: Between March 15 and April 15 of each year, you are required to complete the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms that show all of your income and withholding, calculate the actual amount of taxes due, to determine if you receive money back (a refund) or if you owe additional tax.

Employment:
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is the only legal employer for international students. There are two exceptions, both of which require that the off-campus employment be directly related to your course of study. Contact OIPI if you want to accept off-campus employment.

Students accepting employment on campus, who are eligible for and wish to claim tax treaty benefits for exemption from U.S. I.R.S. income tax withholding, must submit an IRS form 8233 and attachment letter to the UAF Human Resource Office.

A listing of countries with tax treaties with the U.S. can be found at this website.

Select the correct Summary since scholarship and employment treaty benefits are not always the same for each country.

Medicare and Social Security Taxes:
F-1, J-1 and M-1 status holders who are lawfully employed and are nonresidents for U.S. tax purposes performing services in accordance with the primary purpose of the status, are not subject to Medicare or social security tax withholding. However, the law requires that social security tax be withheld from wages received from illegal employment. Therefore, wages received by nonresident alien F-1, J-1, or M-1 status holders (a) working on the campus indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019, (b) performing off-campus work with U.S. immigration authorization, or (c) undergoing approved practical or academic training are not subject to social security tax withholding requirements for the first 5 calendar years of presence in the U.S. Verification of immigration status and proof of permission to work must be provided to the employer.

If you are in F, J, or M status and are considered a resident alien for tax purposes, your wages are subject to Medicare and social security tax withholding on the same terms which apply to U.S. citizens. J-2 and H visa holders, whether resident or nonresident, are also subject to social security tax*. Social security tax and benefits apply to U.S. permanent residents on the same basis as U.S. citizens.

Regardless of immigration or tax residency status, income from the following is NOT subject to social security tax:

  • Services performed by an enrolled student for the school he/she regularly attends while enrolled on a full-time basis.
  • Services performed for state or local government, unless an agreement with the federal government is involved.
  • Services performed for a foreign government.
  • Services performed for an international organization.

Errors:
Students in F-1 and J-1 status are exempt from social security and Medicare tax deductions for the first five calendar years of presence in the U.S. Because this is based on calendar years, students arriving in late December to begin their programs the following January, count the December calendar year as the first year of presence.

Occasionally Medicare and/or social security tax is withheld in error. If you see Medicare or social security deducted from your pay, contact your department payroll contact or our office to have the deduction(s) reimbursed to you. If you discover an error after the end of the calendar year, you may not request a refund on the annual income tax return (Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR). Instead, you must contact the employer who withheld the tax for assistance. If the employer is unable to provide a refund, you may complete IRS Form 843, “Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement” and submit it with copies of your Form W-2, Form I-94, and proof of permission to work to the Internal Revenue Service Center where the employer files their tax reports. If the location of this service center is unknown, submit your request to:

Internal Revenue Service Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19255

Include a statement from your employer showing the amount of refund requested and the amount (if any) reimbursed by the employer. If you cannot obtain such a statement, you must verify that you have contacted your employer and that the employer was unable to assist you with the refund.

International Social Security Agreements:
The United States has concluded social security agreements with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These conventions eliminate double social security taxation for the same work. Under certain of these agreements, individuals not ordinarily exempt from U.S. social security taxes may establish exemption. For more information, contact the local Social Security Administration or write:

U.S. Social Security Administration
Office of International Policy
PO Box 17741
Baltimore, Maryland 21235

In addition, if you are eligible to claim Tax Treaty Benefits:you will need to complete and submit the following:

IRS Form: 8233

Letter to accompany Form 8233, if required. (See your department Payroll/Personnel Assistant to obtain the letter.)

Note: Tax Treaty Benefits may be different based on the type of income. The U.S. may have tax treaty agreements with countries that provide benefits for payroll income, but not for scholarship income and vice versa. If you do not know if you are eligible to claim tax treaty benefits, contact your department PPA or International Advisor for assistance.

A listing of countries with tax treaties with the U.S. can be found at their website.

Additional Information:
If you are working, and you have not claimed tax treaty benefits, you will receive a Form W-2 at the end of January. DO NOT SUBMIT (REPORT) TAX FORMS in January.

If you have income that was exempted from income tax withholding because of tax treaty benefits that you claimed by filing an IRS Form 8233, you should receive a Form 1042-S in March.

Information and help in completing your U.S. income tax return (form 1040-NR or 1040-NR-EZ) will be available after the spring break in March through our office. For more information, see our Tax Information page.

DO NOT FILE YOUR TAXES ON A FORM 1040, 1040A OR 1040EZ. INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE VISITORS MUST USE THE FORM 1040-NR OR THE FORM 1040-NR-EZ.

EXCEPTION: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERED A RESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES ONLY, YOU WILL USE THE FORM 1040, 1040A OR 1040EZ. Generally, this applies if you have been in the U.S. longer than 5 years on an F visa; 3 years on a J visa. If you are unsure of your tax residence status, please contact the Office of International Programs & Initiatives.

Tax Residence:
Tax residency is determined by applying the “Substantial Presence Test”. As a J-1 researcher or professor, generally you are exempt from requirements in the test, and are a nonresident for U.S. tax purposes if you have (1) not been in the U.S. in J-1 or J-2 status in the last 6 years or (2) this is the second year you have been in J-1 or J-2 status in the last 6 years.

Residents for U.S. tax purposes must report and are subject to U.S. tax on all worldwide income, not just income received in the U.S. from U.S. sources such as UAF.

Definitions:

  • Income: Any money you receive in the U.S. from a U.S. source. (Example: University paycheck, direct deposit or award.)
  • Stipend: May be any of the above types of payments. It may be subject to tax depending on any requirements placed on the individual receiving the award.
  • Tax Treaty: An agreement between the U.S. and some foreign countries exempting certain types of payments from U.S. income tax withholding.
  • Tax Withholding: Prepayment of U.S. tax on money received from U.S. source. Example: U.S. Federal Income Tax.
  • Filing your tax return: Between March 15 and April 15 of each year, you are required to complete the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms that show all of your income and withholding, calculate the actual amount of taxes due, to determine if you receive money back (a refund) or if you owe additional tax.

Medicare and Social Security Tax:
People in J-1 status, performing services in accordance with the primary purpose of the Exchange Visitor program are not subject to Medicare and social security tax withholding for the period that they are non-resident aliens.

If you are in J-1 status and are considered a resident alien for tax purposes, your wages are subject to Medicare and social security (FICA) taxes at the same rates that apply to U.S. citizens. Dependents in J-2 status, whether resident or nonresident, are always subject to Medicare and social security tax.

Errors:
Occasionally social security tax is withheld in error. During the calendar year, if you discover that Medicare and social security taxes have been withheld in error, contact your department payroll assistant (PPA) for a refund. If you discover an error after the end of the calendar year, you may not request a refund on the annual income tax return (Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR). Instead, you must contact the employer who withheld the tax for assistance. If the employer is unable to provide a refund, you may complete IRS Form 843, “Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement” and submit it with copies of your Form W-2, printed Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) electronic I-94 record, and proof of permission to work to the Internal Revenue Service Center where the employer files their tax reports. If the location of this service center is unknown, submit your request to:

Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Include a statement from your employer showing the amount of refund requested and the amount (if any) reimbursed by the employer. If you cannot obtain such a statement, you must verify that you have contacted your employer and that the employer was unable to assist you with the refund. If you need assistance, you may contact the Office of International Programs & Initiatives.

International Social Security Agreements:
The United States has concluded social security agreements with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These conventions eliminate double social security taxation for the same work. Under certain these agreements, individuals not ordinarily exempt from U.S. social security taxes may establish exemption. For more information, contact the local Social Security Administration or write:

U.S. Social Security Administration
Office of International Policy
PO Box 17741
Baltimore, Maryland 21235