International Students and Scholars Office

U.S. Taxes

Most international students and scholars are liable for taxation on any income earned in the United States from the beginning of their arrival in the US. Income can include salary, scholarships, fellowships, money earned from US mutual funds or US bank accounts.

  • The ISSO cannot advise on tax related issues. Students and scholars should consult with a qualified tax professional for individual assistance. See "How to File US Taxes."
  • F-1 and J-1 students and scholars employed by CPP should review answers to frequently asked questions provided by CPP Payroll Services

Taxes for the calendar year (for example: January 2019 – December 2019) are reported in spring of the following year.

Tax forms are filed with both the US government (federal) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US state(s) where income was earned.

For example, if a student earned income in California (CA) and New York (NY), that student would file a federal tax form as well as separate state forms for both CA and NY. Refer to the "How to File US Taxes" section for more information.

Being a non-resident (i.e. F/J visa status) for immigration purposes does not automatically make a student/scholar a non-resident alien (NRA) for tax purposes.

  • F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents are usually considered NRAs for tax purposes for their first five years in the US
  • J-1 scholars are also typically considered NRAs for their first two years in the US

To determine whether you are a “non-resident alien” or a “resident” for tax purposes, see IRS Publications 515 and 519. For further questions, go to the IRS web site, or call 1-800-829-1040.

Some students and scholars may be exempt from certain taxes, depending on their country’s tax treaties with the U.S. Please review this section for details on such exemptions.

Tax Treaties

Some countries are eligible for varying amounts of income exemption from taxation under tax treaties between their home government and the United States. IRS Publication 901 lists current U.S. tax treaties. If a student or scholar needs to set up a tax treaty withholding exemption with an employer other than CPP, they would use IRS Form 8233. Please note that tax treaties only pertain to federal and not state or local taxes.

FICA Taxes (Social Security & Medicare)

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) requires taxation on income earned to fund federal programs that provide benefits for U.S. citizens and permanent residents when they retire, are disabled, or are the children of deceased workers. Funds withheld for FICA are reflected on paycheck stubs and the Form W-2 (Boxes 4 and 6).

FICA Exemptions
  • F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are typically exempt from paying FICA taxes for their first five years in the U.S. and these taxes should not be deducted from paychecks
  • J-1 scholars and researchers are typically only exempt for two years
  • J-2 visa holders with work authorization are not exemptt from FICA taxes

The mechanism for the exemptions are found under Internal Revenue Code 3121 (b)(19) and is available to persons in F-1, J-1, M-1 and Q immigration status. It is a blanket exemption and the only qualification is that the person is a non-resident for tax purposes and that the work is authorized (e.g. CPT, OPT, AT). Refer to IRS Publication 519 for additional information.

Obtaining Reimbursements of FICA Withholdings

If a student or scholars’ employer has mistakenly withheld FICA taxes, the student or scholar must work with their employer directly to request a reimbursement. If the employer will not assist this matter, the student or scholar must file IRS Form 843 and IRS Form 8316 to request reimbursement.

In the event an F-1 or J-1 student, scholar, or researcher is employed by CPP and CPP withheld FICA taxes in error, contact University Payroll Services at (909) 869-2233.



Students and scholars who have earned income in the US should expect certain forms from their employer. These forms contain information needed to complete federal and state tax returns. Please keep all tax related forms in a safe place.

Form W-2

This form shows the total income earned and the withheld income tax at the state and federal levels. Workers receive a W-2 from each employer and thus may have multiple W-2s to include in their federal and state tax filings.

Information about the Form W-2 for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars employed by CPP can be found on the CPP Payroll Services website.

Form 1042-S

The purpose of this form is to report U.S. taxable income and U.S. income tax withholding for:

  • Scholarships, fellowships or grants awarded to students or postdoctoral fellows, and compensation for services rendered
  • Income claimed as exempt from US income tax under a tax treaty – treaties are claimed by filing Form 8233

Information about the Form 1042-S for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars employed by CPP can be obtained by contacting the CPP Payroll Services at (909) 869-2233.

Form 1099

This form shows any interest earned on bank accounts, stocks, funds, etc. which students may need to claim. It also reflects any income earned as an independent consultant, or through a temporary/staffing agency.

Form 1098-T

A 1098-T Form is provided to some students to notify them that they may be eligible for federal income tax credits. The majority of international students and scholars are not eligible to claim education expense tax credits on their federal tax forms as they are not US Citizens, Permanent Residents (PR), married to a U.S. citizen or PR, allowed to legally be claimed as a dependent by a US citizen or PR, or have not been in the US long enough to file taxes as a Resident for federal tax purposes.

For more information about eligibility, please review IRS Publication 970. If eligible, please see the Student Accounting & Cashiering Services website for questions regarding Form 1098-T.

Form 8843 for Non-Resident Aliens

All non-residents in F or J status and each of their dependents must file federal form 8843 and Statement of Non-Residence every tax season, even if no income was earned.

Tax Forms and Publications

There are a several ways to file US taxes. Please review the different options and select one method.

Non-Resident Alien

Resident Alien

Amended Returns

When F and J students and scholars submit tax forms to the U.S. government, they are making a legal and recorded statement of status and eligibility which must be correct. False filings can seriously impact future immigration eligibility and status. If a student or scholar has filed incorrect tax forms, the ISSO strongly encourages seeking assistance from either a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), tax attorney, or licensed tax firm to make corrections as soon as possible to avoid any penalties. These services will incur a charge to be determined by the service provider.

Be Aware of Tax Scams

The Federal Trade Commission provides advice and tips to avoid common scams.

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