U.S. tax law divides people into resident and non-residents for tax purposes, which can be different than how immigration law defines your status. There are different rules for tax filing based on whether you are a resident or non-resident alien.
Determining Resident Status for Tax Purposes
In general, if you have been in F or J student visa status for five years or less, you are considered a non-resident alien and are required to file non-resident alien tax forms. If you have been a research scholar in J visa status for two years or less, you also file as a non-resident alien.
International students who have been in F or J visa status for more than five years, and research scholars who have been in J status for more than two years, generally file as resident aliens.
If you are unsure whether you are considered a non-resident or resident for tax purposes, please use the Substantial Presence Test (SPT) to calculate the length of time you have been in the United States. For the SPT, see the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Resident Alien Filing
Resident aliens for tax purposes follow the same guidelines and use the same forms as Americans. Information on filing can be found at IRS Publication 17.
Non-resident Alien Filing
All Students With or Without Income
If you are in F or J status, a non-resident for tax purposes, and you were in the U.S. in 2018 (even one day), you are required to complete and mail IRS Form 8843 "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition". This is true, even if you did not work in 2018.
Students With Income
Additional to the Form 8843, if you had U.S. income in 2018 (like employment or a taxable scholarship), you are required to file IRS Form 1040NR (stands for Non-Resident) or 1040NR-EZ. You are not required to file the Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ if your only income was from bank interest. If you are unsure whether to file the 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ, our tax preparation software will determine this for you. (See below for instructions.)
Instructions for Non-resident Alien Filing- Federal Taxes
The OISS makes the filing process easier for non-resident alien students. We have purchased a tax software system called GTP for you to use. It is specifically for international students and scholars and is user-friendly. Please note that Glacier Tax Prep will only assist in filing your federal tax forms, not your state tax forms. See the bottom of this webpage for additional information on filing state tax forms.
Filing tax forms is the personal responsibility of each person. You are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your tax documents and any resulting penalties or interest.
We suggest that non-residents use the GTP software (instructions below) to file your tax documents. Other tax software programs are not designed for international students and can produce inaccurate tax documents. Note that non-residents cannot electronically file tax documents. All documents must be mailed.
- Obtain an access code by coming to the OISS front desk (240 Student Center) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep this code in a safe location and don't share with others. You will not be given another code if you lose the first one. Each person will receive a unique code and it is for your use only. You will get an informational sheet on how to use GTP when you obtain your access code.
Collect all the forms needed for you to enter the correct information into GTP. Be sure to have all applicable documents before you file so you don't have to send an amended tax form later:
- I-20s (F-visa) or DS-2019s (J-visa)
- I-94 card
- Tax documents:
- W-2: All employees who have taxable income from employment in the United States will receive a Form W-2, which is a statement of earnings. The Form W-2 is essential for filing a tax return. This form will be sent to the home address of the employee. If you are an EMU employee, you can also locate this form after logging into your my.emich.edu account, under the "employee" tab.
- 1042-S: This form is for non-resident aliens who received income for a scholarship that covered both tuition and room/board (like EMU athletes or Graduate Assistants) OR wage exemptions due to tax-treaty benefits with their home countries. This form will be sent to the local address of the student.
- 1098-T: This is information relating to the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits. Generally, Forms 1098-T are not applicable to students who are non-residents for tax purposes.
- 1099INT: From a bank for interest earned on checking/savings accounts. This is not reportable income for non-resident aliens.
- 1099DIV: Interest earned on investments. This is reportable income for non-resident aliens.
How to Use GTP
- Go to the GLACIER Tax Prep login to create a user name and password.
- If you used GTP in the past, enter your previous UserID and password. If you don't remember your UserID or password, select "Forgot Login" to receive an email with information on resetting your account. Once you successfully log in, you will be asked to enter your access code. It is important to use last year's User ID because your previous year's information will be automatically added to your 2018 account- which will save you time!
- If you have not used GTP, you should go to "Create New Account." You will be asked to enter your access code and then create a User ID and password.
- Read the instruction sheet given to you in person or via email when you received your access code.
- Log into your GTP account and enter your information.
- When you are done entering information, you will receive instructions on how to prepare and mail your tax forms, including the address where you need to mail the documents. Read the instruction sheet carefully as it may have additional instructions for you. Make a copy of your signed tax return and supporting documents. And, remember, you cannot file electronically! You need to mail your forms!
Assistance in Filing your Federal Non-Resident Tax Forms
Please use the following assistance if you have questions about taxes:
- GTP has lots of ways to help you! Once you are logged in, you can view their "Frequently Asked Questions", use their "Help" buttons, and read their "More Information" sections. There are a lot of resources on the software to help, you just need to carefully read through all the information. If you still have questions, you may email GTP through the system.
- OISS advisors are not trained tax advisors so it is best to contact GTP, as they are experts.
State of Michigan Taxes
When finished with the federal tax return, if based on the information entered into GTP, it appears that you are required to file a state tax return, you will have the opportunity to continue to a state tax software preparation service called Sprintax. There is a separate fee for this service.