ALL international students and scholars are required to file a U.S. tax return, even if you do not have U.S. source income.
The ISSO is now providing Sprintax codes for the 2021 tax season. You can request a unique code by submitting a request in the Control Center of your ISSO Portal.
If you receive U.S. source income, including wages, stipends, or scholarship funds, you will have a tax liability for that income. There may be automatic tax withholdings from your paycheck, stipend or financial aid, meaning in some cases your U.S. source income will be reduced by the tax withholdings.
The tax filing deadline has been extended to May 15th, 2021. Please check this IRS statement for more information and tips on how to speed up the processing of your tax return.
How the ISSO Can Assist You
To make things easier for you, Brandeis University has teamed up with Sprintax, an online tool specifically designed for international students and scholars that helps you prepare your federal and state tax return in less than 20 minutes!
ISSO staff are not tax experts and therefore cannot help you prepare your tax return or provide you with tax advice.
Do you REALLY need to file? Yes, yes you do!
ALL international students and scholars who were in the U.S. for any period of time during any calendar year must file Form 8843 (PDF). If you received U.S. source income, you will additionally need to file a federal income tax return. Some international students and scholars will also need to file a state tax return. If you did not have any U.S. source income, you will ONLY file Form 8843 (PDF). If you have U.S. source income, your next step is to determine your tax filing status.
Filing a return is a legal requirement of the United States. Failing to file may impact the status of your current visa and make future U.S. visa applications difficult.
Avoid penalties – If you miss the April 15th deadline you may face late filing penalties. Filing prior to this date prevents this, so the earlier you file, the better.
You may be owed a tax refund – most international students filing a tax return are due a tax refund for overpaid tax.
Filing Your Tax Return
Before you begin your tax return, you will need to determine your tax filing status: nonresident or resident. Most Brandeis international students and scholars will be nonresident tax filers. However, some of you will be resident tax filers even though you have a nonimmigrant visa status. It is important to file in the correct status. If you do not know your tax filing status, Sprintax will help you determine it. Sprintax is only available for nonresident tax filers, so if Sprintax determines you are a resident for tax purposes, ISSO will refund your Sprintax fee.
Before you begin your tax return using Sprintax, you will need to collect your income statements. If you had U.S. source income you will receive one or more forms from the Brandeis Payroll Office indicating the type, source and amount of income received:
W-2 form - issued by the end of January for wages earned
1042-S form - issued by March 15th for stipend, scholarship, or fellowship income, as well as for income covered by a tax treaty
1099 form - issued for miscellaneous income, such as freelance or contract work
Schedule H-C - issued by your health insurance company to confirm your health insurance coverage (KEEP this form as you may need it if you file a Massachusetts state tax return)
If you received no U.S. source income in 2020, you do not need to use Sprintax; instead, file Form 8843 (PDF) on your own. Please follow the instructions on pages 3 and 4 of the PDF.
If you received any U.S. source income in 2020, wait until you have all your income statements before you begin the filing process.
Request a Sprintax Code at the ISSO
Request a Sprintax code in the Control Center of your ISSO Portal (a link can be found in the sidebar on the left). Once your request is approved, you will receive your unique Sprintax code by email. Do not share your code with anyone else!
The code will allow you to use Sprintax software to file your federal income tax return. If you need to file a state income tax return, you can pay an additional amount through Sprintax directly OR you can file your state return using another tax resource of your choice.
Get Started with Sprintax
Use the information on your tax documents to complete each section.
Sprintax will prepare your tax return.
Your return will be available for download in your online account.
Sprintax will populate the appropriate federal and state income tax forms for you. This software does not submit your tax returns electronically. You must print and sign the forms, attach the appropriate copies of your income statements, and follow the instructions to mail them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Keep copies of your returns for your records.
State Income Tax Filing
Sprintax can help file your Massachusetts state income tax return for an additional fee.
The State of Massachusetts (through the Department of Revenue Services) requires an annual report of income, and assesses tax on the same type of income that is taxed by the federal government. Individuals who earned less than the minimum filing requirement do not have to file. However, if any tax was withheld by the employer, the individual would want to file a return in order to be refunded for the withholding.
FICA Tax (Social Security or Medicare)
All residents and “resident aliens for tax purposes” are required to pay a FICA tax (Social Security and Medicare). “Nonresident aliens for tax purposes” are exempt from this tax. If your employer had Social Security or Medicare taxes withheld in error, you can file a refund request with the IRS.
Protect yourself from IRS scam phone calls & emails!Tax scams take many different forms. Many common scams consist of phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. They use the IRS name, phone number, logo, or a fake website to try to steal your money. They may try to steal your identity, too, by asking for personal information such as your Social Security number. See the IRS list of Tax Fraud Alerts to help you avoid being a victim of these tax scams. You can also find more information on what to do if you are contacted by a U.S. government official on the ISSO website.