What are Income Taxes?
Income tax is money that is deducted from your paycheck and paid to a government entity, typically the U.S. federal and state governments. It is used to pay for government programs and salaries.
Who Must Pay Income Taxes?
All U.S. citizens and some citizens of other countries, depending on the country's tax treaty with the U.S.
What is an Income Tax Return?
Income tax returns must be filed each year between January 1st and April 15th. A tax return is a way for the government to compare how much you owe in income tax with how much you actually paid. You will receive a refund if you paid too much, and if you paid too little you will owe the government the balance due.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns. For a list of 2021 VITA Tax Assistance sites, click here
Who Must File an Income Tax Return?
Anyone who earns money in the U.S. must file a tax return. Income can be earned, such as from wages or self-employment, or unearned, such as from bank interest, dividends, rental income, etc.
International students who have no income in the U.S. are required to complete a Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals, to determine if a tax return must be filed.
OISS purchases the use of tax filing software, Sprintax, for international students. Federal tax filings are free with a code from OISS. You must cover the cost of your state tax filing. Sprintax is available from February 1 through April 18th. OISS will send an email when the software is available.
OISS is not trained to answer questions about income taxes. Resources where you might find information to help are:
Common tax forms:
W-2 This form is issued by your employer. It is a summary of all of the earnings you had from that employer, how much you paid toward federal, state, local, medicare, social security tax for the previous year. Employers are required to provide you with your W-2 form before the end of January each year.
1099 This form is like a W-2, but is issued to self-employed individuals by the hiring person.
1042S This form is issued by an employer to report amounts paid to foreign persons that are subject to income tax withholding, even if no amount is deducted from the paycheck because of a tax treaty or exception to taxation, or if any amount withheld was repaid to the payee.
8843 This is the tax form that an international student must file to determine if they must file a tax return.
1040NR This is a federal tax form filed with the U.S. federal government by people who earned income in the U.S. but who are considered non-residents of the U.S. for tax purposes.
1040 This is a federal tax form filed with the U.S. federal government by people who earned income in the U.S. and are considered residents of the U.S. for tax purposes.