Tax FAQs

Expand All / Collapse All

I did not work during the 2014 calendar year—do I still need to file a federal tax return?

YES; ALL international students and scholars who were physically present in the U.S. for one or more days during the 2014 calendar year (January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014) are required by law to file a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return to substantiate their non-residency status, regardless if you earned any U.S.-source income.

This is my first time filing taxes and I do not understand! What are taxes all about?

Please visit the main ISSO Tax Information webpage. The general overview is that the tax deadline is usually April 15th each year.  Qualified scholarship amounts, such as tuition, fees and books, are not subject to federal and state income taxes.  Teaching/research assistantships are taxable.  The room and board portion of your Brandeis scholarship is considered taxable income unless it is exempt by a tax treaty between your country and the United States.  Taxes are computed on a calendar-year basis (January 1 to December 31). 

Every January your employer (including Brandeis University) may issue you a Form W-2, which states all the money you have earned in the past year.  In March, you may receive a Form 1042-S, which states the taxable portion of stipend or fellowship income (it will not include tuition scholarship amounts as these are exempt from tax).  You may receive a W-2 and 1042-S, or you may just receive a W-2 or just a 1042-S, depending on the nature of your income.  Generally, the income tax rate for non-residents (for tax purposes) is approximately 30%, unless you are eligible for a tax treaty which lessens your tax burden.  Information on tax treaty eligibility is available online with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov); please refer to IRS Publication 519 “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens” and IRS Publication 901 “U.S. Tax Treaties”

I can’t find the mailing address for the 8843 form. Where do I send it?

The mailing address is listed on page 4 of the Form 8843 under “When and Where to File”.

Can the ISSO file my tax return for me?

NO; It is the individual’s responsibility to report income and pay taxes.  ISSO staff are neither tax preparers nor accountants, therefore we are not legally able to give tax advice.  However, we provide you with resources to assist you in completing your income tax filing requirements.  If you want professional assistance in filing your income tax returns, you can hire professional tax preparers or accountants for a fee to assist you in filing the documentation.  Please be sure that the tax preparer/accountant is knowledgeable about filing Non-Resident tax returns (which most international students and scholars would need to file) in addition to Resident tax returns -- they are different. 

Do I have to file Massachusetts Income taxes?

If your gross income for the 2014 calendar year was more than $8,000 — whether received from sources inside or outside of Massachusetts, you will be required to file Massachusetts income taxes.  Please note that if you resided in another state during the 2014 calendar year, you must check with that state to determine the income tax filing requirements.

NOTE:  State income tax return forms should NOT be mailed with your Federal income tax return forms.  Each State will have its own separate filing location.  Check the State income tax form instructions for the correct mailing address to send the completed forms.

Does the ISSO provide tax filing software?

YES; The ISSO has purchased limited licenses for the Windstar Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR) software which helps international students and scholars file their Non-Resident Federal U.S. Income Tax Return Forms and Massachusetts State Income Tax Return Forms.  Windstar FNTR does not have the ability to assist with filing State income tax returns with other States where you may have lived in addition to Massachusetts.

If you would like to purchase Windstar, please bring $6 (cash only please) to the ISSO on a to-be-determined date and receive an access code that allows you to access  Windstar software.

NOTE: Please note that Windstar FNTR Software will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve  basis only.

I’m currently living outside of the U.S. Do I have to file taxes if I was in the U.S. in 2014?

YES; ALL international students and scholars who were physically present in the U.S. for one or more days during the 2014 calendar year (January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014) are required by law to file a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return to substantiate their non-residency status, regardless if you earned any U.S.-source income.  If you are currently living abroad, you can download the appropriate tax forms online, complete and sign the forms, and mail them to the appropriate filing locations. 

Note that you will need to have the appropriate Forms(s) W-2, 1042-S, and/or 1099 from your employer in order to complete your tax forms if you had any U.S.-source income.  If you have not received these forms as you have moved abroad, please contact the payroll office at your employer(s)/school(s) to have duplicate forms sent to you for use in completing your income tax return [from Brandeis, duplicate W-2 and/or 1042-S can be requested from the Brandeis Payroll Office -- http://www.brandeis.edu/financialaffairs/allfinforms/index.html].

If you are interested in purchasing a Windstar Foreign National Tax Resource license, even from abroad, please email the ISSO (isso@brandeis.edu).

How do I get a refund of social security tax or medicare taxes withheld in error?

If you are in F-1 (student) status or J-1 Exchange Visitor (student, research scholar, short-term scholar, student intern, or professor categories), and eligible to file as a non-resident in your federal tax return, and had Social Security or Medicare Tax withheld in error, please see the link below for filing a request to refund those taxes withheld in error:
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=104936,00.html