Skip to navigation menu

Skip to main content

Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
teachers college logo columbia univertsity logo

Office of International Services

Taxes and Social Security > Annual Tax Return Information

Annual Tax Return Information

Introduction: Tax Return Filing Obligations for International Students

The following information is to assist F-1 and J-1 students, and their dependents, in understanding and meeting their U.S. tax return obligations for the previous tax year.  If you are an F-1 or J-1 student and you were present in the U.S. at any time during 2013, you (and your F-2 / J-2 dependents, if any) are required to file a "tax return" or other tax documents, even if you earned no U.S.-source income.  Note that the deadline for filing your tax return is April 15, 2014.

Why Am I Required to Comply with U.S. Tax Laws?

International students and their dependents are expected to comply with U.S. laws and regulations -including any applicable tax laws - while studying and residing in the U.S.  It is important to comply with tax regulations in order to avoid the possibility of violation or future penalty under U.S. tax law and U.S. immigration law. Because of the importance of complying with U.S. tax regulations, we recommend that you read through the following information carefully.

Furthermore, it may be to your benefit to file a tax return, even if you owe no tax. If you were employed or received U.S.-source income in 2013 that had taxes withheld, you may be eligible for a refund of some or all of these withheld amounts.  In order to claim a refund of withheld taxes, however, you must follow the procedures outlined below for filing a tax return.  Therefore, it may be to your advantage to file a tax return in order to receive a refund of part or all of the taxes that were withheld from your earnings.

Non-Resident versus Resident Taxation: Does This Information Apply to Me?

In most cases, F-1 and J-1 students and their F-2 and J-2 dependents are considered 'non-residents' for tax purposes. Note that 'non-resident' for immigration purposes can be a 'resident' for tax purposes, and vice versa. The following information focuses specifically on non-resident taxation.You are a non-resident if:

  • if you you were physically present in the U.S. at any time during 2013 in F or J status (including F-2 or J-2 status)
  • if you have been in the U.S. in F or J status (including F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2) for five (5) tax years or less.  Note that a tax year counts if you were in the U.S. in F or J status at any time during that year, even if for only one day. For example, if you arrived in the U.S. as an F-1 student on December 31, 2013 then 2013 counts as one tax year.

Most F and J students and their dependents are considered 'non-residents' for tax purposes. However, if you have been in the U.S. in F or J status for more than 5 years, you will most likely be considered a resident for tax purposes and file your tax return similarly to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.  Additional information about resident taxation is available at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) web site at http://www.irs.gov   Consult Chapter 1 of IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more details about resident and non-resident taxation. The IRS also has information about free on-line tax preparation services for residents at http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html. Tax residents may also use commercial tax preparation services, such as H&R Block, to help filing their tax return.

Special Note for J-1 Sponsored Students

Students in J-1 status who are sponsored by an external agency such as the Institute of International Education (IIE) should be able to obtain tax advice and assistance from their sponsor.  If you are a J-1 student not sponsored by Teachers College, please contact your sponsor for information about your 2013 U.S. tax filing obligations.

Refund Of Social Security And Medicare (FICA) Taxes

In general, any income earned by an F-1 or J-1 student considered a non-resident for tax purposes should not be subject to Social Security and Medicare (FICA) tax withholding.  This applies to income earned through on-campus employment, F-1 curricular or optional practical training, J-1 academic training, or severe economic hardship employment.  If you earned income in 2013 and had FICA taxes withheld, you must first speak to your employer to request a refund.  Refer them to the Social Security / FICA provisions in IRS Publication 519 for more information  If your employer is unable or unwilling to refund your FICA taxes, you must file IRS Form 843 and IRS Form 8316 with your federal income tax return. Please note this must be completed and submit this form to HR every January.


Procedure for Meeting Your Tax Obligations

Step 1: Determine Your Tax Status For 2013

Refer to the following table to determine your tax status for the 2013 calendar year (January 1 -- December 31, 2013).  Please remember that tax filing obligations apply if you were physically present in the U.S. during 2013 even if for only one day and even if you earned no income whatsoever during the 2013 calendar year.

In general, if you had no income or only interest income during 2013, you will have tax filing obligations to the U.S. federal government's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) only.  If you earned income during 2013, you may have tax filing obligations to New York State or your state of residence as well as to the IRS.

TAX REFERENCE GUIDE (Non-Resident Taxation Only)

Your Tax Status During the 2013 Calendar Year

Your Tax Filing Requirements:

How to file:

(A) I was not present in the U.S. during 2013; I arrived in the U.S. on or after January 1, 2014.

 

 No filing requirements

 Not applicable

(B) I was present in the U.S. during 2013, but I did not have any U.S.-source income

 

 File IRS Form 8843 only  

 Use GLACIER or download the paper form from www.irs.gov 

(C) I was present in the U.S. during 2013, and my only source of U.S. income was interest earned from a savings account.  I had no other U.S.-source  income.

 

 File IRS Form 8843 only 


(D) I was present in the U.S. in the U.S. during 2013, and I had U.S.-source income (from salary/wages, interest or dividend income, or taxable scholarships and fellowships)

 

 File IRS Form8843   andIRS Form 1040NR-EZ  (or 1040NR) by April 15.

 &

 (For New York State residents) File New York State tax forms IT-203
and IT-203B if you lived in New York and earned more than $7,500 (if you are single) or;$7,500 (if you are married).

 Residents of New Jersey or Connecticut who earned income in New York or in their home states may have different tax obligations. Consult the tax sites of the individual states (see below) for more information.

 


 

 also provides the option of producing state tax forms through an  agreement with H&R Block (fee may apply)

Step 2: Prepare the Following Information

Before you begin to prepare your tax returns, make sure you have the following documents and pieces of information in front of you.  In general, the following information will be helpful or required:

  • Your passport and travel history, with an estimate of the number of days you spent inside and outside of the U.S. during 2013 and previous years, if applicable.
  • The name and address of your academic program.  For most students, the correct address will be:

Department / Program Name
Your Program Director or Chair
Teachers College
525 West 120th Street
New York, NY  10027

  • If applicable, tax forms and statements that you have received from U.S.-based employers, banks or other financial institutions, and scholarship agencies that reflect your U.S.-source income from employment, interest, and scholarship or fellowships.  Some of the forms and statements that you may have received include the following.  Note that different persons will receive different forms depending on their employment/financial activity for 2013.
    • W-2 Wage and Tax Form from each employer you worked for during 2013, verifying your 2013 wages/earnings and tax withholding.
    • 1099-INT Form from each bank or financial institution, verifying your interest income during 2013
    • 1099 Form from each employer from whom you received miscellaneous income (this form is typically used to report compensation paid to any person as an independent contractor or consultant rather than as a salaried employee)
    • 1042-SForm that reports scholarship or fellowship income, and/or any amounts excludable from taxation due to a tax treaty between your country of residence and the US.  (NOTE: If you received a TC scholarship, or had income exempt from taxation due to a tax treaty, you should receive a 1042-S from Teachers College or your employer by end of January each year.)
    • NOTE: Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, is issued by Teachers College to reflect your total tuition and fee payments to the College for 2013.  The information on the form is not typically relevant to students who are non-residents for tax purposes.

If you believe that you had income or scholarship/fellowships that are tax reportable, but you have not received the appropriate form, contact your employer, financial institution, educational institution or sponsoring agency.

Step 3: Log On To GLACIER Tax Prep (GLACIER) International Tax Preparation Software for Nonresident Aliens

TGLACIER Tax Prep is now available through your Teachers College MyTC portal!  GLACIER is designed for non-resident alien students and scholars (who have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years) and who have tax filing obligations.  If you are a TC international student with a valid TC UNI/ID, you may log on to GLACIER to prepare your U.S. tax return for the Internal Revenue Service.  GLACIER will ask you a series of questions and then will generate the appropriate U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format.  You will then be able to print out the forms, sign them, and mail them to the appropriate IRS tax center.  Furthermore, after you have completed your federal tax return, if you have state tax filing obligations, GLACIER Tax Prep does not complete state tax forms; please review the tax information on the websites of the states in which you lived and/or worked during 2013 for more information.  You need to file a New York State tax return only if you earned income or salary exceeding $7,500 (for singles) or $7,500 (for married individuals) and/or you are requesting a refund of any withheld New York taxes.

--You should not use GLACIER if you have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years, because you will most likely be a resident for tax purposes.  The IRS also lists free on-line tax preparation services for U.S. citizens and resident at http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html.  Popular commercial tax preparation services include TurboTax (http://www.turbotax.com) and H&R Block (http://www.hrblock.com).

Cost for using GLACIERFree for federal IRS tax forms, including IRS Form 8843

To log on: Log in to GLACIER Tax Prep for 2013 via the MyTC Portal

If you prefer not to use GLACIER, you may download updated Adobe Acrobat PDF versions of tax return from the appropriate tax web sites (see below for links).  Please keep in mind that due to legal restrictions, the OIS is unable to assist you in completing your individual tax return.

Step 4: Print Out and Mail Your Tax Return

Once you have entered your information, GLACIER will produce your tax forms in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.  You will need to print out the forms, sign where indicated, and mail them to the appropriate tax office.  GLACIER will print out an instruction sheet along with your tax forms with information about your tax obligation or your tax refund, if any.  If you owe additional taxes, you will be instructed to submit payment along with your tax forms. You can pay by personal check, money order, or certified check. IMPORTANT: KEEP COPIES OF YOUR TAX RETURN AND ALL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR OWN PERMANENT RECORDS.

For Federal Taxes:

Please consult the Instructions page of the Form 8843, Form 1040NR, and/or Form 1040NR-EZ for the most up-to-date mailing address.

For New York State Taxes (if any):

Please consult the Instructions page of the Form IT-203 and/or Form IT-203B for the most up-to-date mailing address.

Deadline for Filing Your Return: April 15 of each year.

Special Notes

Dependents in F-2 or J-2 Status

Dependents in F-2 or J-2 status are required to file IRS Tax Form 8843.  J-2 dependents who had employment authorization and worked during 2013 must also file federal IRS and the appropriate state tax forms.  You may use GLACIER to assist your dependents in filing these forms.

Reporting Your Social Security Number

If you and/or your dependents have a Social Security Number, you should use that number on all tax forms that you submit to the IRS and/or state tax authorities.  However, if you and/or your dependents are filing Form 8843 only and do not have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), you do not need to report a SSN or ITIN.  Do not use your TC ID number formatted "T000xxxxxx" on any tax returns; this number is for internal TC purposes only.

Tax Forms and Further Advice

All tax forms, and further information about U.S. federal and individual state tax requirements, are available on the following tax web sites:

Internal Revenue Service 

http://www.irs.gov

New York State Department of Taxation 

http://www.tax.ny.gov/

New Jersey State Division of Taxation

http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/

Connecticut Department of Revenue Services 

http://www.ct.gov/drs/site/default.asp

Tax advice is also available through H&R Block and other commercial tax preparation services.

Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: