The information contained in this resource is intended to provide accurate information on federal income taxes for international students at Geneva College. It is provided with the understanding that Geneva College and its faculty and staff are not engaged in rendering legal services, and with the understanding that the content does not constitute legal advice. Geneva College disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance upon this general information. Where legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent attorney should be sought.
In general, nonresidents in the United States who are students at Geneva College must file Form 8843 (“Statement for Exempt Individuals”) and a PA tax return, whether or not they had any income. If there was any income earned in the United States, a federal tax return should also be filed. Further information about taxes, residency status and other clarifications may be found below.
There are a number of different types of taxes and agencies responsible for collecting them. These tax types include, but are not limited to personal property tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes (“FICA taxes”), local income tax, state income tax, and federal income tax.
For the most part, personal property tax depends on the purchase price of a vehicle, or whether a vehicle is owned. Its terms will vary by locale. Nonresident aliens in the United States are not exempt from this yearly tax.
FICA taxes are taken from earned income. Nonresident aliens in the United States who are in F, J, M, or Q categories are exempt from these taxes while they are “non-resident aliens” for tax purposes if their employment is authorized.
Local income tax will vary by locale, but may require a tax return to be filed. Pennsylvania requires that a state income tax return be filed for any income received for work in the United States while living in Pennsylvania. It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to follow the state’s tax rules. To see the website for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, please go to http://www.revenue.state.pa.us.
Definition of Income
For nonresident aliens in the United States, income (for tax purposes) is only taxable if it is earned in the United States. With some exceptions, this means that income received from outside the United States is not taxable in the United States. However, all income received from anywhere in the world is taxable for residents of the United States.
Income earned in the United States may include employment on a college campus, scholarships, assistantships, practical or academic training, and any compensation received in exchange for labor.
Definition of Residency
The United States Immigration Service (USCIS) defines a nonresident alien as someone living in the United States (1) who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident and (2) who has a residence abroad he or she does not intend to abandon (and so has not been provided with authorization to live in the United States permanently).
For tax purposes, however, the IRS divides everyone into residents and nonresidents. Residents include (1) all U.S. citizens, (2) lawful U.S. permanent residents, and (3) those defined by USCIS as nonresident aliens who meet the Substantial Presence Test. Nonresidents are all others, regardless of immigration status.
To pass the Substantial Presence Test, one must be present in the United States for a total of 183 days or more, counted over a period of three years as described in IRS Publication 519. Nonresident aliens in F, J, M or Q categories do not include the days they are “exempt individuals” in that count to 183. Those in F, J, M or Q categories and their dependents are exempt for a period of five years throughout their lifetime. J category non-students and their dependents are “exempt individuals” for a period of two out of every six tax years. So long as nonresident aliens are “exempt individuals”, they will not be counted as residents for tax purposes.
Filing a Federal Income Tax Return
All individuals in the United States who received income must file a tax return if their income is more than the personal exemption ($3650 for tax year 2010). Taxpayers may want to file if their income was less than the personal exemption, but this is not required by law. Those who are residents for tax purposes may complete IRS Forms 1040 or 1040-EZ. Those who are nonresidents for tax purposes must complete IRS Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040-NR.
All individuals who are nonresident aliens in F, J, M and Q categories who are “exempt individuals” are required to file Form 8843 (“Statement for Exempt Individuals”). This form does not mean that the individual is exempt from taxes, but that they are exempt from counting days toward the 183 days in the Substantial Presence Test. Even if a nonresident alien has no income in the United States, they must file Form 8843.
Photocopies of all tax returns must be kept by the taxpayer for a period of seven years, as required by law. Forms 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ are mailed to:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
All tax returns with accompanying forms W-7 are mailed with the ITIN application on top of the tax return to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
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