- What you Need to File and When
- Tax Filing Deadline
- Need more time? About Tax Filing Extensions
- How to File Your Tax Return - Discounted Filing Software
- Filing Assistance
If you are a non-resident for tax purposes who received income in the U.S. during the last calendar year, you must file a tax return with the U.S. government. In addition to filing a federal tax return, you will likely need to file a return on the state level, as well.
Federal taxes are those paid to the U.S. central government Internal Revenue Service (IRS). OIA pays for software licenses for our international population to use a special non-resident tax filing software.
In addition to a federal tax return, many will also have to file a State of Illinois income tax return. If you resided and/or worked in more than one U.S. state during the past calendar year, you may have to file tax returns in all of 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.
- Tax filing deadine: April 15, 2021 -- UPDATE: On March 17, 2021, the U.S. Treasury Department extended the 2021 tax filing deadline to MAY 17, 2021
- This is the case for both federal and state tax returns.
You may find that you need additional time to file your taxes. This might be because you are waiting for an ITIN approval or missing some of your necessary documents. If you need additional time to file your federal return, you can file for an Automatic Extension of Time to File Your U.S. Tax Return. You should submit the extension form before the deadline listed above. More information can be found on the IRS link above.
To support our international population, OIA has contracted with Sprintax. Sprintax allows students to create both federal and state tax returns.
The software will become available in late-February or early-March. OIA will send an announcement when the software is ready to access. At that time, OIA will send a discount code to be used for the federal return only. If you would like to pay to file your state return through Sprintax you will be able to do so at your own expense.
Where can I get the UChicago access code for Sprintax?
OIA will send you an email in late-February/early-March with instructions and a unique Sprintax access code.
I forgot to use the code at checkout. Can I get reimbursed for my federal file?
No. To receive the discounted federal file, you must use the code at checkout. If you do not use the code at checkout, you cannot claim the discount at a future date or be reimbursed for the cost of the federal file.
When will the tax filing software be available?
More information about accessing the software will be sent out in late February. You will receive an email with additional information through the OIA mailing list. Updates on software availability and access will also be posted on this page.
Important note: These FAQs were created for our international population by an outside expert in foreign-national tax filing. OIA does not have tax experts and therefore cannot, by law, answer specific tax questions or help you prepare your tax forms. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to meet your tax obligations and do so accurately.
Q. I received taxable income. Do I need an ITIN or SSN to file a tax return?
A. Yes. If you are a non-resident for tax purposes and received taxable income last year, you will require a tax ID number (SSN or ITIN) to file a tax return. This is the case whether you are filing with the software or filing a different way. If you do not have an ITIN when filing, you can apply at that time using IRS Form W-7. Sprintax will prepare this if needed.
Q. Taxes were already taken from my paycheck/award during the year. Do I still have to pay taxes or file a tax return?
Yes. If you received taxable income during the previous year—even if taxes have already been deducted from your paycheck—you must file a tax return. Whether or not you have additional taxes to pay will depend on your individual filing (what you paid during the year vs. what you should have paid). You can review why you have to file a return to get an overview of the process.
Q. Can OIA help me review my forms or answer my tax questions?
No. Advisers in OIA are not tax experts and cannot legally advise on individual tax issues, answer tax questions, or review documents. However, we do provide tax workshops and tax preparation software (Sprintax), you can ask questions of their tax advisers. We also encourage you to visit the university's comprehensive tax website: taxes.uchicago.edu
Q. My ITIN application is pending. What if I don't get the ITIN in time?
A. If you received taxable income last year, you will need a tax ID to file your tax return. If you've since received an SSN, you will use the SSN on the tax return instead of your ITIN. If you do not have an SSN and will not have your ITIN before the filing deadline, Sprintax will help you file for an ITIN at the time you file your taxes.
Q. Do I need to turn anything in to OIA?
A. No. Your filing responsibility is between you and the IRS. You must mail all necessary documents to the IRS directly. OIA is not involved in the process and does not need copies of any of your tax documents.
Q. Will I get a notification that my tax returns was received or processed by the IRS?
A. No. You will only be contacted by the IRS via US mail (not by email) if something is missing or incorrect. You will never be contacted by the IRS by telephone.
Q. How long will it take to get my refund from the IRS?
A. The sooner the tax return is filed, the quicker the return. The IRS does not publish return times, but the process is typically 6-12 weeks for non-residents.
Q. Can I file my Illinois state tax return electronically?
A. Yes. Nonresident status in the US does not require you file via paper for Illinois state tax returns.
Q. I am a non-resident for tax purposes; 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 non-resident for tax to the US, but a resident of Illinois.
Q. My spouse/partner also had earned income, can we file together?
A. If your spouse/partner is a resident for tax purposes, you and your spouse/partner can file a joint tax return. If you both a nonresidents for tax, you cannot file together.
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 don't understand this and need help. What can I do?
A. The staff at OIA are not tax experts and therefore cannot, by law, answer specific tax questions, review your documents, help you determine what documents you should receive from employers, or help you prepare your tax forms. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to meet your tax obligations with the IRS and do so accurately. However, we do offer several resources that should be able to assist. Please see our Getting Help section below for more information.
We highly recommend you visit the university's tax website and attend a tax workshop. You should also plan to use the Sprintax to file your tax return or 8843. Sprintax will be available in mid-February, after the university disburses tax documents. The tax software will walk you through the filing process and is very easy to use. Even if you don't qualify for the free federal filing with OIA, you can still pay for filing with the software at your own expense.
Sprintax representatives may be able to answer some basic tax questions. You can contact them at email@example.com. You can also access an online chat feature by logging into your Sprintax account.
In addition to the tax filing software, you can find assistance in the following places:
- VITA Volunteers: To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887.
- Find an independent tax expert at your own expense. Make sure you review the IRS Tips for choosing a Tax Preparer
Types of Tax Preparers:
- 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/
- 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/
- National tax-prep chains. (H&R Block, Jackson-Hewitt) work best for simple, straightforward returns. Make sure they are aware of and experienced with non-resident taxes.
If you are going to use a tax preparer, make sure to review the following tips and ask the right questions for your personal tax return:
- Make sure they are familiar with NON-RESIDENT or foreign tax returns.
- 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 NON-RESDENT tax returns in the past.
- 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.
- Make sure they stand by their work. They should be able to provide audit assistance or advice, should an audit occur.
- OIA can provide the contact information for the tax expert we hire for tax workshops. Any individual tax consulting outside of what OIA provides (i.e. workshops), will be at your own expense. Contact your adviser for additional information.
- 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