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International Tax Information

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For the current 2021 U.S. tax filing season (2020 tax year), Cranwell International Center, in coordination with International Support Services and the Controller’s Office, is pleased to provide current international students and scholars at Virginia Tech with access to the Sprintax online tax software to assist you with your tax filing obligations. The International Tax Software Access Form is now closed.

Please keep in mind that faculty and staff in Cranwell International CenterInternational Support Services, and the Controller's Office are not tax experts and are not able to give tax advice. Be sure to review the detailed information on this webpage to help you better understand your tax obligation and how to submit the required tax forms. 

Use this link to access Tax Modules provided by the Controller's Office to assist with questions regarding filing your taxes. Once you follow the link, hit the Payroll tab to see the 8 modules and other helpful information.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is intended as general information and should not be considered legal tax advice. Individuals should consider consulting a professional tax advisor of their choosing for an assessment of their individual situation.

The IRS is the U.S. government agency that collects taxes. As a nonresident F-1 or J-1 student, you may need to file forms each year with the IRS, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations. U.S. tax laws can be complex and confusing and the laws that apply to internationals are not the same as those that apply to U.S. citizens. 

Resident versus Nonresident

In legal terms, noncitizens of the U.S. are called "aliens." There are three types of aliens for tax purposes: (1) nonresident; (2) dual-status; and (3) resident. These categories are for tax purposes only and are not related to your immigration status. You may be in F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status and considered a resident for tax purposes.

Foreign nationals in a nonresident tax status cannot file tax returns using resident tax software (Turbotax, H&R Block, etc). Sprintax is currently working on having e-filing available during this tax season, however until that is available you are required to file a paper return. Dependents of F and J visa holders in a nonresident tax status must file Form 8843, if they were in the U.S. in 2020.

Substantial Presence

Non-Resident aliens generally meet the Substantial Presence Test (days of presence in the U.S.) if they have spent more than 183 days in the U.S. within the last three years and are NOT an exempt individual. Having substantial presence in the U.S. generally means you will be considered a resident alien for tax purposes.

 

Exempt Individual

This includes any person who is temporarily exempt from the substantial presence test. Time spent in this category does not count toward the 183 days in the U.S. that normally will convert a non-resident alien into resident alien for tax purposes. F-1 and J-1 students maintaining status are exempt from the substantial presence test for 5 calendar years. J-1 scholars are exempt from the substantial presence test only if they have been in the U.S. no more than 2 out of the last 6 years.

Even if you pass the substantial presence test, you might still be considered a nonresident for tax purposes if you qualify for The Closer Connection Exception to the Substantial Presence Test for Foreign Students. Form 8843 will need to be submitted to the IRS with your federal tax return if you are in a U.S. residence tax status under the Substantial Presence Test. Sprintax can help you determine your tax status.

If you are a resident for tax purposes, you can visit the IRS website to access IRS Free File that lets you prepare and file your federal income tax online for free.

You are also able to file your taxes without any software by downloading the necessary forms and instructions directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website

  • Sprintax Checklist of Necessary Documents
  • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement: W-2 forms are mailed to current and former employees. This form shows how much you earned last year and how much was taken out for taxes. You will only receive this form if you have been employed. The W-2 Form can also be accessed through HokieSpa if Virginia Tech was your employer. If you had more than 1 employer in 2018 you will receive multiple W-2s.
  • Passport
  • I-20 (F-1 status) or DS-2019 (J-1 status)
  • Social Security number OR Individual Tax Identification number (generally not required if you will file only Form 8843)
  • Address information (current U.S. address and foreign address)
  • U.S. entry and exit dates (for current and past visits to U.S.)
  • Academic institution or host sponsor information (name, address, phone)
  • Scholarship/fellowship grant letter (if applicable)
  • A copy of last year's federal income tax return (if filed)
  • Form 1042-S (if applicable): The 1042-S form will only be given to nonresident alien students who have received scholarship or fellowship money that exceeds tuition and related fee charges. You will not receive a copy of the 1042-S form if you only have a tuition waiver on your account and do not receive any checks. If you expect to receive a 1042-S form, wait until it is issued before filing your tax return. You should receive this by mail before March 15th.
  • Form 1099 (if applicable): The 1099 form documents miscellaneous income. For example, if you had CPT authorization to work as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of an organization, you might receive Form 1099 instead of Form W-2 to document your earnings.

Who must file tax forms for 2020 tax season?

Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the US on F or J status anytime between 1 January – 31 December 2020, you're obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities). 

Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s). 

How to File:

We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the US. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you login to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities. 

However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.

Step by Step guide on How to File Your Nonresident Tax Forms (F and J)

 

1)     Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax

 

2)     Create a Sprintax Account:

You will receive an email from Cranwell International Center providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on SprintaxThis unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can login using your existing credentials.

3)     Follow the Sprintax instructions

If you earned US Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including a 1040NR. 

4)     (With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return

After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, you will have the option to use Sprintax for an additonal fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.

5)     Read the instructions for filing/mailing your returns

Remember to read the instructions that Sprintax provides. 

You will be required to download, print and sign your federal tax return and mail it to the IRS. If you have a state filing requirement, you must also mail this to the tax authorities. 

Finally, if you only need to file Form 8843, this will also need to be mailed to the IRS.

Need Sprintax Support?

If you need help while using Sprintax, you can contact their support team using the options below

Email - hello@sprintax.com

24/7 Live Chat Help

Refer to their FAQs

 

Sprintax Educational Tax Videos and Blog:

You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on nonresident taxes. These will provide further clarity on nonresident tax and how to use Sprintax. Sprintax also offer a range of useful content on their blog to help you file your return.

DISCLAIMER: Cranwell International Center and Virginia Tech are NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.

If you did not receive an income from a U.S. source in 2020 and you are a nonresident alien, you must file Form 8843 (Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition) and mail it to the address below by June 15, 2021:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Austin, TX 73301-0215

Need help filling out your Form 8843? Use this link to access Tax Modules provided by the Controller's Office. Once you follow the link, hit the Payroll tab and select Module 6. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I file online? Sprintax is currently working on having e-filing available during this tax season, however until that is available you are required to file a paper return.
  • What if I forgot to file my Form 8843 in a previous year? Complying with U.S. tax law is a part of maintaining your immigration status. You should file the previous year's Form 8843 as soon as possible.
  • If I entered the U.S. in 2021 do I need to submit a Form 8843?

If you entered the U.S. on or after January 1, 2021 and were not in the U.S. at any point in 2020 then you are not required to submit a Form 8843 for the 2020 tax season.

  • I am currently outside of the U.S., do I still need to mail in the Form 8843?

Yes, if you were inside of the U.S. in 2020 then you should still submit the Form 8843 to the IRS by mail before the filing deadline.

  • What should I enter for question #10 "Enter the name, address, and telephone number of the director of the academic or other specialized program you participated in during 2020?" 

David Clubb; 240 W Campus Drive, 1025 Harper Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061; 540-231-6527

If you did receive wages or taxable scholarships from a U.S. source in 2020 and you are a nonresident alien, you must file the following forms:

1. Form 1040NR: U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return

This form should be mailed to one of the following addresses by April 15, 2021:

FOR REFUND RETURNS (you are not enclosing a payment):

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service

Austin, TX 73301-0215

FOR TAX DUE RETURNS (you are enclosing a payment):

Internal Revenue Service

P.O. Box 1303

Charlotte, NC 28201-1303

* Do not use Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.  

2. Form 760Virginia Resident Individual Income Tax Return

This form should be mailed to one of the following addressed May 1, 2021:

FOR REFUND RETURNS (you are not enclosing a payment):

Virginia Department of Taxation

P.O. Box 1498

Richmond, VA 23218-1498

FOR TAX DUE RETURNS (you are enclosing a payment):

Virginia Department of Taxation

P.O. Box 760

Richmond, VA 23218-0760

3. Form 8843: Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition

This form should be submitted along with your Federal tax return if you are filing your federal taxes. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I file online? Sprintax is currently working on having e-filing available during this tax season, however until that is available you are required to file a paper return.
  • What if I forgot to file my Form 8843 in a previous year? Complying with U.S. tax law is a part of maintaining your immigration status. You should file the previous year's Form 8843 as soon as possible.

The IRS offers free resources to help with filing your state taxes. Many local Commissioner of the Revenue or Director of Finance offices in Virginia also offer tax assistance to their citizens. The office closest to campus is listed below.

The Commissioner of the Revenue office in Christiansburg, VA is open to assist taxpayers with completing their Virginia state tax returns. If you need assistance with this, you can visit their office Monday - Friday from 9:00 - 11:00 AM and 2:30 - 4:00 PM. These hours are firm. Be sure to already have your federal tax return completed when you go to their office for assistance with your state tax return. No printers are available on site.

They are located at: 

Montgomery County Government Center

755 Roanoke Street, Suite 1A

Christiansburg, VA 24073

Phone: +1.540.382.5710

Email: royalhp@montgomerycountyva.gov

Web: https://www.montgomerycountyva.gov/Elected-Officials/commissioner-of-the-revenue-intro/commissioner-of-the-revenue

Sprintax can also assist you with filing your state taxes, there will just be an additional fee.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that any foreign national claiming tax treaty benefits on wages or salary earned in the United States file a Form 8233 each year they wish to claim the tax treaty.  The Payroll Office is now preparing 2020 tax treaty documents.

The process to complete tax treaty documents has changed due to COVID restrictions. You can find the schedule of available appointments through March 2021 here,  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30E0C4CA8A829A4FD0-20211

After you have signed up for a scheduled meeting, you will be sent a confirmation email and Zoom link. VT Payroll will need to review all necessary documentation (passport, visa, I-94, I-20 or DS2019 form, social security card, etc.) via the Zoom appointment.

For appointments after March please send an email to the Payroll Office via fnisadmi@vt.edu  to request a Zoom appointment.

After eligibility has been determined, Payroll will provide the appropriate Federal tax treaty documents using FNIS (Foreign National Information System), along with information on how to access the proper VA4 state withholding form. If you have not accessed FNIS before, you will be assigned a temporary password by email.  Original signature treaty documents must be delivered to the Payroll office before treaty benefits can be activated.  The treaty benefits will begin in 2021 with the first payroll processed after the original signed treaty documents are processed by the Payroll Office. 

PLEASE NOTE:

If your country of tax residency is not on the tax treaty list you will not be eligible for tax treaty benefits.  Students from India do not have any tax treaty forms to complete

Please reference the PDF below for detailed tax treaty information.

If you have any questions, please contact Kimberly Myers by email at kiharve1@vt.edu.

 

*
2020_Tax_Treaties.pdf

If you are not a current international student or scholar, you will not be eligible for our Sprintax code. Please be sure to still check whether you are a non-resident or resident for tax purposes. If you are a non-resident, please be sure to choose a software specifically for Non-Resident Tax Preparation when filing. A few examples of available software include:

Virginia Tech is not officially recommending any additional software options, so as always please check the website information before using.

If you are a resident for tax purposes, you can visit the IRS website to access IRS Free File that lets you prepare and file your federal income tax online for free.

You are also able to file your taxes without any software by downloading the necessary forms and instructions directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website

You may be eligible to receive a payment if you meet all of the following qualifications:

  • Are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien;
  • Cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return;
  • Have a Social Security number (SSN) that is valid for employment (valid SSN); and
    • Exception: If either spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the taxable year, then only one spouse needs to have a valid SSN
  • Have adjusted gross income below an amount based on your filing status and the number of your qualifying children.

 

Additional information can be found on the following IRS.gov websites:  

IMPORTANT DATES FOR 2021

Federal Taxes Due: Monday, May 17, 2021

State Taxes Due: Monday, May 17, 2021

Form 8843 Due: Tuesday, June 15, 2021

 

Watch the recorded Sprintax Nonresident Tax Webinar

Open Sprintax Tax Webinars for OPT/CPT Students

Need help preparing for OPT/CPT from a tax perspective? (FICA taxes, tax residency, tax forms, etc.) 

June 9th, 1pm EDT - Register here

June 14th, 12pm EDT - Register here

June 21st, 12:30pm EDT - Register here

 

 

Do you have questions regarding the COVID-19 CARES Act Stimulus Payment? Visit this website

 

Do you still have addiitonal questions after reviewing the information provided on this website? Please contact Sprintax via email or through their live chat feature to be connected to a tax specialist.