Income Tax Information



The information provided here is intended only to give you a general sense of taxpaying requirements and should not be considered financial or legal advice. Due to legal restrictions, the staff of the Office of International Programs and Services is not able to advise on tax issues, answer individual tax questions, or prepare tax forms for individual students or scholars. However, in March of each year the office provides tax information and a variety of resources to assist international students and scholars with filing their tax returns. For complex situations, it is advisable to consult a tax attorney, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or other reputable tax adviser who is familiar with non-resident taxation.

Summary of Tax Obligations:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the United States government agency responsible for the collection of federal income taxes. All non-immigrants in F or J status (both the principal and all dependents) are required to file an individual income tax return if they were physically present in the U.S. during the tax year, even if they had no U.S. source income of any kind. Please be aware that there are penalties for failure to file a tax return.

International students and scholars who are studying, teaching or engaged in research activities in the United States are subject to federal and state income taxation. Some visa holders are also subject to the federal Social Security tax (FICA) on wages earned by themselves or their family members. The U.S. tax treatment of international students and scholars and their families depends chiefly on their status as residents or nonresidents (for tax purposes) and the type of income they receive. In some circumstances, country of origin may also play a part, since the United States has tax treaties with some countries which exempt citizens and/or residents of those countries from U.S. income tax. Since tax liability depends on personal circumstances, you are responsible for determining your own tax obligations.

All "F" and "J" visa holders (students, scholars, professors, trainees, etc.) are generally considered nonresident aliens for U.S. federal tax purposes for an initial period of time ranging from 2-5 years. These individuals must file a 1040NR or1040NR-EZ federal tax return if they have U.S. income subject to tax. Effective for 1997 and later tax years, nonresident alien students and trainees who are temporarily in the U.S. under an "F", "J", "M", OR "Q" visa and who have no income subject to U.S. tax, do not have to file Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.  However, they must still file Form 8843.

If you did not work in New York State during the tax year, then you do not have to file a New York State tax return. If you did work, however, you may have to file a state tax return. Filing requirements vary depending upon the amount of income earned.  Please see the NYS Form IT-203 Instructions for details. Students who were employed outside of New York State or live in one state and work in another (New Jersey, Connecticut, etc.) may be required to file a tax return for both states.

Tax law in the United States is extremely complex. It is important to remember that each individual’s tax liability is unique and thus should be analyzed individually. It is the responsibility of each international student and visiting scholar at Pace University to understand his or her own tax situation. Keep in mind that your friend’s case may be very different from your own!

Federal, State & Local Tax Withholding
All employers are required to "withhold" or deduct applicable federal, state and city taxes from paychecks. These "withholdings" are recorded by your Social Security number. The payroll office will determine the appropriate amount of tax to be "withheld" from each check. At the end of each year, anyone who has been employed will receive a "W-2 Form" from their employer. This form totals the income paid and taxes withheld for the year. From this statement, it can be determined whether you owe additional tax or whether the U.S. government or the state owes you a refund by checking the tax table in the instruction book. You must send the appropriate copy of the W-2 with your income tax return.

Social Security (F.I.C.A.) Withholding
Non-resident aliens in F-1 or J-1 status are exempt from Social Security (FICA) withholdings if the income is received for services performed to carry out the purpose for which the alien was admitted to the U.S. This includes employment pursuant to a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship or other financial aid award, approved on and off-campus employment, authorized employment due to economic necessity and practical training employment [26 U.S.C. 3121 (b) (19)]. However, students who have been on F visas over 5 years and are not from countries covered by tax treaties (2 years for J visa holders) are subject to Social Security unless they can prove to the IRS that they do not intend to stay in the U.S.

Tax Forms and Publications
Current federal tax forms, instructions and various other tax publications are available from the Internal Revenue Service web site, at Internal Revenue Service locations, or by calling their toll free forms line. During tax season (January 1 through April 15), forms are also available at most post offices, libraries and some banks. Some forms are also available at the Office of International Programs and Services, and can be downloaded from the links below: