Jan. 27, 2012
2011/2012 Tax Edition
Filing 2011 Tax Returns
ALL international students and scholars who were physically present in the U.S. during the 2011 calendar year (January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011) are required by law to file a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return, regardless if you earned any U.S.-source income.
For many of you going through this process for the first time, we know it can seem overwhelming. Please be comforted by the fact that everyone (international and American) files their tax return each year, so we are all truly sharing this experience together.
International students and scholars should review the information below to find helpful resources for completing the income tax filing process.
****Please be advised that the Staff of the ISSO are neither tax preparers nor accountants. We are NOT qualified, and are NOT legally able, to give tax advice. We are, however, providing you with resources to assist you in completing your income tax filing requirements. Apart from the information in the ISSOnews Email and on the ISSO website, we are unable to advise students and scholars with tax related questions. If the information in the ISSOnews and on the ISSO website does not address your tax related questions, you should contact a qualified tax accountant or tax attorney. The ISSO can provide you with a referall if you should need further assistance.****
If you earned no U.S.-source income in the year 2011...
You are only required to file the Federal Income Tax Form 8843, "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition." The purpose of this form is to confirm your non-resident tax status in the U.S. You will see that it is a very short form asking for your basic information. It should not take very long to complete.
If you are an international student and/or scholar who did earn U.S.-source income in the year 2011, you will need:
- Form W-2 from your employer(s) – including Brandeis University if you worked on-campus. These forms are mailed out around January 31st of each year. This form provides a summary of the income you earned from your employer and the taxes already withheld/paid to the government.
- Form 1042-S and/or a Form 1099 from the Brandeis Payroll Office by the mid-March 2011 if you claimed a tax treaty for 2011, or received funding from Brandeis that is not taxable.
What do you do with these documents?
These documents will assist you in being able to complete your Federal Tax forms. Since you earned U.S.-sourced income in 2011, you are required to file additional tax forms, depending on your tax residency status:
- As a nonresident or resident (for tax purposes), Federal Income Tax Form 8843
- As a nonresident (for tax purposes), Federal Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ
- As a resident (for tax purposes), Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040
- Depending on your earnings, you may be required to file a Massachusetts State Income Tax Return. Links to information on filing Massachusetts State Tax Returns are available on the ISSO website.
- If you lived, or attended school, in another State in the U.S. at any point during the 2011 calendar year, you may be required to file a State Income Tax Return in the State(s) you resided or attended school. Please consult the department of revenue or other appropriate State Government office/agency to confirm State Income Tax Return filing requirements for that State.
You will need to include a copy of the Form W-2, and any Form 1099 or 1042-S you receive if applicable, when filing your Federal Tax Return.
NOTE: If you are not sure whether you will be receiving a Form W-2, Form 1042-S, or Form 1099, you need to contact the Brandeis Payroll Office at 6-4454, 6-4475 or 6-4476.
Late January: You may receive a Form W-2 from your employer(s), including Brandeis University if you worked on campus
February 15, 2012, 2-5pm: ISSO Tax Information Session with Demonstration by Windstar. Alumni Lounge.
Mid-March: You should receive a Form 1042-S and/or a form 1099 from the Brandeis Payroll Office if you claimed a tax treaty for 2011, or received funding from Brandeis that is not taxable.
April 17, 2012: Your U.S. Federal Tax Return and Massachusetts State Tax Returns must be postmarked by this date or earlier.
HOW TO FILE TAXES
There are different ways you can file your taxes:
1. Complete the forms on your own (paper or online versions of the income tax return forms).
2. Hire a tax accountant to complete your taxes for you (you can do this if you are a non-resident or resident for tax purposes). Please note that there is a cost to hiring someone to complete your income tax returns on your behalf.
3. Use Windstar Non-Resident Tax Software, available for $5 from the ISSO (if you are a non-resident for tax purposes)
The ISSO will be giving a Tax Information Session on Wednesday, February 15 from 2-4pm in the Alumni Lounge, with a representative from Windstar Technologies who will give a demonstration of the Windstar Non-Resident Tax Software.
What is Windstar?
You can use Windstar if you are on an F-1 or J-1 visa, and have been enrolled as a student in the U.S. for less than five calendar years, or working in J-1 Research Scholar, Short-Term Scholar, or Professor categories in the U.S. for no more than two calendar years. The ISSO has purchased 500 licenses with individual access codes for Brandeis international students and scholars to access the software.
How Much Does Windstar Cost?
The cost to you is only $5.00. (Purchasing tax filing software programs on your own can be costly, averaging $35 and up).
When Can I Purchase Windstar?
Access codes can be requested at the ISSO beginning on Thursday, February 16 after 10:00am OR at the Tax Information Session on Wednesday, February 15 at 2PM in Alumni Lounge of the Usdan Student Center. In order to obtain an access code, you need to come by the ISSO in person to fill out a waiver form and pay $5.00. It would be very helpful if you can bring the exact amount in cash (we are unable to accept personal checks or credit cards). Once you complete the waiver form, within an hour the ISSO will send an email to with your Windstar access code and instructions on logging on to Windstar. This information will also be covered at the Tax Information Session.
More Important Info:U.S. Federal Income Tax Returns are due at the Internal Revenue Service by Monday, April 17, 2012. If you use Windstar to file your return, you will need to print out your tax return form(s), attach the appropriate tax document(s), and mail it to the Internal Revenue Service by this deadline.
***PLEASE be sure that you keep a copy of everything you file/mail to the Internal Revenue Service or State Income Tax office. ***
The Windstar software is designed to ask questions and guide you through the filing process, and has information links as needed. If you find that you are unable to use Windstar as you would not be able to file as a non-resident, we recommend that you consult the Tax Information on the ISSO website.
Please note that you are not required to use the Windstar software in order to file your U.S. Federal Income Tax Return – it is simply a tool that may assist you in the tax filing process. Since ISSO staff are limited in the tax assistance we can give you, we offer Windstar as an alternative resource.
J-1 STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS WITH A PROGRAM SPONSOR OTHER THAN BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY (i.e. FULBRIGHT, FORD, etc.)
Please first consult with your program sponsor before completing your 2011 tax returns or before purchasing a Windstar license. Your program sponsor may have important additional tax filing instructions.
Please remember that the ISSO has an updated Tax Information page on our website which provides links to helpful government resources and links where you can download both Federal and State tax instructions and forms as needed.
We hope you find this information helpful!