Every foreign national must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and a state tax return with the Missouri Department of Revenue regardless of whether or not income was received. What type of return should be filed is dependent upon whether or not income was received.
Note that the deadline for filing tax returns is Thursday, April 15, 2021.
The tax year you are reporting on is for the previous calendar year (January 1 – December 31.)
When the phrase “tax return” or “return” is used, it is referring to the actual tax return (1040NR) and accompanying forms (Form 8843).
The staff of the Office for International Students and Scholars is not trained in tax laws and cannot give tax advice or assist with the filing of your return and does not endorse any listed services. We are providing this information to you to help you meet the requirement of filing your tax return.
Beware of scams!
Remember that the Internal Revenue Service will never contact you via email.
Any communication from someone who claims to be the IRS should not be opened, as it likely contains some sort of virus or malware. Never provide your Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to anyone via an email.
Learn more about avoiding scams.
End-of-Year Documents You May Receive
The IRS requires employers to report wage and salary information for employees on Form W-2. Your W-2 also reports the amount of federal, state and other taxes withheld from your paycheck. The information on your W-2 is extremely important when preparing your tax return. W-2 forms will be mailed mid to late January.
Form 1042-S is used to report income paid to a nonresident, such as payments to an employee exempt under a tax treaty and payments for scholarship or fellowship grants. A nonresident employee could potentially receive both a Form 1042-S and Form W-2 or only a Form W-2 if they did not claim a treaty allowance.
Determine Which Form to Expect
|Form||Purpose of Form||When To Expect|
|1095-C||This is a new health insurance tax form which shows post-doctoral scholars and associates, and dependents if applicable, had minimum essential coverage for the prior year||End of January|
|1095-B||This is a new health insurance tax form which shows students, and dependents if applicable, had minimum essential coverage for the prior year||End of February|
|W-2||For taxable income not covered by a tax treaty||Beginning of February|
|1042-S||For tuition covered under a tax treaty||Mid March|
|1042-S||Issued for employment income covered under a tax treaty||Mid March|
|1042-S||Issued for all nonresident aliens receiving a stipend payment||Mid March|
Who to Call With Questions
If your employer was Washington University in St. Louis, you can address questions to the WashU Payroll Office. If your employer was not WashU and you have questions about your forms, you should contact your employer.
If you are a nonresident alien and did not have any income in the last calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) you need to file Form 8843. Though Form 8843 is not a tax return, when the OISS documentation cites “tax return” or “return,” we are referring to the actual tax return and accompanying forms, such as Form 8843.
Do I have to file an 8843?
Form 8843 is an informational statement required by the U.S. government for all nonresident aliens who entered the U.S. with visa types F, J, M, Q. Please be aware this includes dependents.
If you had no earnings or other monetary activity to report to the IRS, this form is the only form you must file. Completed forms should be sent to: Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service Center Austin, TX 73301-0215
Please be aware that each individual who files only Form 8843 must not send it with anyone else’s form. This means the forms for your spouse and child(ren) would each go in their own envelopes.
If you are also required to file an income tax return to report income, stipend or other monetary activity, you should attach Form 8843 to the back. If you are filing Form 8843 for an F-2 or J-2 dependent that is also claimed as a dependent on a tax return, attach the form(s) to the back of the tax return on which they are claimed.
Please note that the GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) program may be used for completing Form 8843 for eligible individuals. If you are not eligible for GTP, visit the IRS website for instructions on completing Form 8843 as well as the form itself.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
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 own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
The OISS and the Law School’s Pro Bono committee will be hosting VITA workshops for the last four weeks before taxes are due. Assistance is available for both nonresident and resident tax returns. Check back for dates.
There are a number of other VITA sites around the St. Louis area that have different dates/times available. You can find locations near you on the IRS website at Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers.
Internal Revenue Service Information and Assistance
The IRS has resources available to help with the filing of both nonresident and resident returns.
- Main IRS website
- International Taxpayers
- Foreign students and scholars
- Nonresident Aliens
- Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes
- International Taxpayers Explanation Videos on IRS YouTube page
- National IRS Hotline: (800) 829-1040
You may also be able to get assistance from the IRS Taxpayer Assistance office. Appointments are required. Find out how to contact your local office.
Missouri Department of Revenue Information and Assistance
The Missouri DOR also has resources available to help with the filing of your Missouri state return. (Remember, this is different from the federal return.)
Assistance For a Price
Unfortunately, neither Washington University nor the OISS is able to provide assistance or advice regarding filing taxes. If you are unable or uncomfortable with the free resources listed above, you can hire an accountant who understands international taxation.Search for an accountant on one of the following online directories:
If you choose to hire an accountant, ask questions to determine if he/she understands international taxation and nonresident taxes. Be certain to ask about tax treaties, NRA exemption and deductions on tax returns.