Nonresidents for Tax with U.S. Income: Filing Federal and State Income Taxes

Overview

Your earnings in the United States are subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes. You declare your income and account for the taxes owed on a form called a “tax return.”

Withholdings

Employers are required by law to withhold estimated taxes from your paychecks. If you have overpaid, you will get a refund after filing your tax return. If taxes were not withheld, or not enough was withheld, then you will owe money at the time of filing your taxes.  

Your employer estimates your taxes based on the withholdings forms that you fill out when you begin employment. Our office holds an annual Withholdings Workshop to help you figure out how to fill out your employment forms. As soon as the event has been scheduled, the date and place will be posted on the OIA calendar. The University of Chicago Financial Services also has some helpful information related to calculating withholding taxes you may find useful.

Filing Taxes

Deadline to file: Your return must be postmarked by April 15 of the year after the completed calendar year when you earned your income. For example, you will file your taxes by April 18, 2016 for any U.S. income earned in the calendar year 2014.   

Need more time?  You can review the information for filing a federal tax filing extension request on the IRS website.

GLACIER Tax Prep: For students and scholars at the University of Chicago, the easiest way to prepare and file your federal tax return is to use GLACIER Tax Prep software. You will then use your federal return to prepare your state return(s). Our office purchases GLACIER Tax Prep software for use by international students and scholars each year. GLACIER will walk you step-by-step through your tax return and generate a complete federal return for you, along with IRS Form 8843 and an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number application (Form W-7), if needed.

The tax filing deadline if you received taxable income during calendar year 2013 is April 15, 2014. 

Annual Tax Workshop: OIA holds tax workshops every year, which are led by outside experts.  All OIA events can be found on the website. We will also email all students and scholars before the workshop takes place.

Federal Taxes: Federal taxes are those paid to the U.S. central government Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Again, GLACIER Tax Prep software is the easiest way to prepare your federal return if you are an international student or scholar who is a nonresident for tax purposes.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN): If you are not eligible to apply for a SSN, you will need to apply for an ITIN in order to file your U.S. federal taxes if you are filing to claim a refund or filing a joint return with a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident spouse.  You will need the ITIN before you submit your tax return.

Don't have your ITIN and need more time?  You can review the information for filing a federal tax filing extension request on the IRS website.

If you don’t use GLACIER, you will need to complete Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ and IRS Form 8843 on your own, or hire a tax attorney experienced in international tax matters.

State Taxes: In addition to a federal tax return, many will also have to file a State of Illinois income tax return on Form IL 1040 (Instructions) if you resided in Illinois in the previous calendar year. Once you complete your federal return, it will be fairly straightforward to calculate your state taxes by hand using that tax form.

If you resided and/or worked in more than one U.S. state during the calendar year you may have to file tax returns in all the states in which you resided or worked. You should check the state revenue website of the other state(s) where you lived and worked to figure out your tax filing obligations.

Need more time?  Review the information about Illinois State tax filing extensions on the IL State website.  If you lived in a different state, you will need to check with the state's tax filing office for extension or other information.

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Helpful Publications and Websites

IRS (Federal Tax Filing) www.irs.gov

Illinois State Revenue Office: http://www.revenue.state.il.us

IRS Publication 505 – Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p505.pdf

IRS Publication 596 – Earned Income Credit http://www.irs.gov/publications/p596/index.html

IRS Publication 901 – U.S. Tax Treaties http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p901.pdf

IRS Publication 519 – U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf

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Getting Help

GLACIER Tax Prep (formally called CINTAX). This is the recommended method in filing a NONRESIDENT tax return. GLACIER Tax Prep is free to UC students and scholars with valid CNET IDs. If you do not have a valid CNET ID, you can purchase an individual license for $39.00 http://www.arcticintl.com/gtp_usage.asp.

VITA Volunteers: To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887.

IRS Tips for choosing a Tax Preparer: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tips-for-Choosing-a-Tax-Return-Preparer

Types of Tax Preparers:

1.)  Certified public accountants. Not all CPAs specialize in doing individual income tax returns. To find a CPA, go to www.aicpa.org or  Illinois CPA Society: http://www.icpas.org/

2.)  Enrolled agents. Focus solely on taxes.  Trained or worked directly for the IRS. Enrolled agents might work for themselves or in a CPA firm. To locate one, go to http://www.naea.org/

3.)  National tax-prep chains. (H&R Block, Jackson-Hewitt) work best for simple, straightforward returns.

  • Ask the right questions for your personal tax return

1.)  Make sure they are familiar with NONRESIDENT or foreign tax returns.

2.)  What are their credentials? Make sure that your prospective preparer has passed recent state or federal tests or has many years of experience. S/he should also have dealt with various different tax situations and filed NONRESDENT tax returns in the past.

3.)  Get a price quote up front. Some will not give you an exact price quote, but the preparer should be able to give an estimated amount. Be sure you are aware of all fees.  Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.

4.)  Make sure they stand by their work. They should be able to provide audit assistance or advice. 

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FAQ

Q. Am I eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

A. To qualify for EITC you must have earned income from employment, self-employment or another source and meet certain rules. Also, you must either meet the additional rules for workers without a qualifying child or have a child that meets all the qualifying child rules for you.  Visit the IRS website for further details: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96406,00.html

Q. I am a nonresident for tax purposes; can I file a federal tax electronically?

A. No. For 2012, Nonresident tax returns cannot be submitted electronically. If you or your tax preparer submits your tax return electronically, you have submitted a resident tax return.

Q. What is the deadline for tax filing?

A. For 2013 tax returns, the deadline is April 15, 2014. This means the forms must be post-marked by this date. The IRS does not have to receive the documents by this date.

Q. Will I get a notification that my tax returns was received or processed?

A. No. You will only be contacted via US mail (not by email) if something is missing or incorrect.

Q. How long will it take to get my refund?

A. The sooner the tax return is filed, the quicker the return. For instance, if you file in February or early March, the processing time is approximately 6-8 weeks. If you file in early April, the processing time is 8-12 weeks.

Q. Can I file my Illinois state tax return electronically?

Yes. Nonresident status in the US does not require you file via paper for Illinois state tax returns.

Q. I am a Nonresident for Tax; do I file a Non-Resident tax return for Illinois State?

A. Not necessarily. Illinois State defines a ‘Non-Resident’ as someone who lives outside of the state of Illinois. If you lived and worked only in Illinois while in the US, you should file as a resident.  You can be a nonresident for tax to the US, but a resident of Illinois.

Q. My spouse also has income, can we file together?

A. If your spouse is a resident for tax, you and a spouse can file a joint tax return. If you both a nonresidents for tax, you cannot file together.

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