All international students and visiting scholars who were physically present in the U.S. in F, J, M or Q status in 2019 are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to complete and submit certain U.S. tax forms, even if they did not earn any money in the U.S. during 2019. In general, U.S. tax forms from individuals must be submitted by April 15, 2020.  If you did not earn any money in 2019 and are not claiming a tax refund, then you need to file your tax form by June 2020.

Are you a Resident or Non-Resident for Tax Purposes?

First, the first step to filing your taxes is to determine if you are a resident or non-resident for tax purposes. If you have been in the US for less than 5 years, you are probably a non-resident.  However, if you are not sure, you can take the Substantial Presence Test to be sure.

Non-Resident: Most international students are non-residents for tax purposes. Non-residents do not need to pay certain taxes, such a Medicare and Social Security, but they are also not eligible for certain tax credits. Non-residents should use the software provided below.

Residents: If you are a resident for the tax because you have been in the U.S for an extended period of time, (typically 5 or more years) then you cannot use the ISSS provided tax software below.  You can, however, use another online tax software or consult a tax professional, all at your own expense.

Tax Workshops

We offer tax workshops help you understand your U.S. tax filing requirements for non-residents, as well as to provide you with information and instructions about:

  • Taxable scholarships
  • U.S. tax treaties
  • Social Security Number (SSN) and Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) application procedures
  • Using the USF purchased tax software, Sprintax

The ISSS office offers tax workshops every year. Our workshops will be Thurs., March 19, 2020 from 11:45am-1:00pm and Fri., April 3, 2020 from 1:00pm-2:15pm. ISSS will be conducting these workshops virtually via Zoom. Please register for the workshop and ISSS will send correspondence with Zoom instructions. 


Filing Your Taxes

In the U.S. there are two different types of income taxes: 

Federal Taxes: All F1 and J1 students need to report their income, even if they had none, to the U.S. Federal Government. Some students will also have to file state taxes. 

State Taxes: You need to file California State taxes if you made more than the Individual Allowance, or if you wish to claim a refund on any California State Tax that was withheld from your income. *If you have income in another state, other than California, you will need to follow the tax procedures set by that state.

Tax Forms:  Before you file, wait to receive all of your tax forms.  Depending on your employment or scholarship status, you may receive one or more of the following forms:

W-2: Issued by your employer at the end of January.

1099-MISC: Issued by paying agency/employer by end of January if you performed work as an independent contractor.

1042-S: Issued by USF or employer for your tax treaty benefit for Federal tax filing purposes. Issued mid to late March.

592-B: Issued by USF/Employer/Scholarship agency for CA State taxes and tax treaty benefit withholding information. Issued mid to late March.

1098-T: Tuition information only for American citizens and those filing as resident aliens. This tax benefit is not applicable to non-residents and not issued to international students.

1095: Proof of insurance issued by your health insurance company, keep this for your records.

Sprintax Tax Software

To assist non-residents in complying with your U.S. tax filing requirements, USF is offering a FREE online tax preparation software called Sprintax. This software can help you file Federal and State Taxes, as well as ITIN Applications.  ISSS will provide you free access to the Federal tax filing software, but if you need to file state taxes or for an ITIN, there will be an additional cost.

If you have questions about your taxes contact Sprintax advisors through the live online chat when you log in, by phone at 1-866-601-5695, or by email at

IMPORTANT NOTE: ISSS staff are not certified tax advisors and cannot help you fill out your tax forms. We can, however, direct you to the resources you need to comply with your U.S. tax filing requirements.