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File U.S. Taxes

International students must file taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every year, whether they earn money or not. 

The tax year is the calendar year from January 1 to December 31. The deadline for each tax year is always April 15 of the following year. There are different forms to submit depending on your situation:


I did NOT earn any income in the US -- Form 8843

  • If you did not have a campus job, CPT, or OPT, and earned no US source income during the tax year, you will file Form 8843.
  • Money sent to you from your parents does not count as income.
  • Form 8843 just asks basic information about you and your status in the United States.  It is easy to complete, and you can just skip any question that does not relate to your situation.

I had a paid campus job, CPT, or OPT -- Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ

  • If you had a campus job, CPT or OPT and earned U.S. source income, then you will file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ.  They are the same, except the "EZ" is the "easy" form. You must use the regular Form 1040NR if you have significant charitable deductions or if you have dependents living here with you inside the United States.
  • In January or February, you will receive a document from your employer called a W2.  Do not throw this away!  When filing your taxes, you must copy the information from the W2 into the tax form. Depending on how you submit your taxes, you may also need to submit the original W2 to the IRS.
  • Most international students do not earn enough money to owe taxes.  However, you must file the tax form anyway.  Plus, some students actually get money back from the government.
  • Make sure you keep copies of everything for your records.

Important Notes:

  • The deadline for mailing tax forms is April 15th of each year.  Instructions and mailing addresses are included with the forms.
  • ISP cannot help students in filling out the forms. You can find free help at local libraries and other public locations. 
  • It is very important to file the forms each year.  If you apply for benefits later, such as permanent residency, the government may ask for proof that you filed your taxes.

updated March 2017

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