The Non-Resident Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) Program for International Students & Scholars

Thank you for your patience in awaiting this Spring’s tax assistance program for F-1 and J-1 non-resident filers offered through the ISSS. Student coordinators and volunteers have been working hard to develop an all-remote Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) program which replaces the Int’l VITA Tax Workshops of previous years. Through the software provided by this program free electronic filing of federal and state tax returns is currently possible, even by filers currently outside the US. TaxSlayer software is now available and active for electronic filing and FSA Volunteers will be available for consulting using the Zoom link and schedule described in the guide on the portal link below. While the services of this FSA program are free to UI international non-resident filers, it is not a requirement that they use this FSA program to meet their tax filing obligations. Students and scholars are free to pay for commercial non-resident tax filing software (such as, hire private tax advising services, or use other programs such as the separate full-service VITA program mentioned below.

Those using this FSA program’s TaxSlayer software should understand that they are responsible for the electronic filing they complete and submit through the software provided. But FSA Volunteer are available for questions or general submission review through Zoom walk-in sessions using the link and schedule listed in the PDF guide accessible through the portal link below. The tentative schedule of walk-in zoom advising hours with FSA Volunteers is below and occurs weekly from March 6th until April 14th (which is the day before what is normally the federal tax filing deadline). However, the IRS has recently announced that the tax filing deadline has been moved from April 15th to May 17th. Nevertheless, since we have limited FSA volunteers and may have fewer after mid-April, we urge students to begin the process immediately so as to have their taxes done and out of the way by mid April even given the extra month to file. The current reoccurring Zoom link for walk-in FSA volunteer advising and this link is also listed on the Software Portal information page on the link below but even while the zoom link listed on the 3rd page of the PDF of TaxSlayer directions may be incorrect. Students are advised not to use the FSA TaxSlayer link and software to submit their taxes beyond the date of April 24th since there will be no Volunteer Zoom advising available beyond that date. Any TaxSlayer non-resident filings submitted beyond that date cannot be advised about by FSA program volunteers so we suggest students find other options for filing thier non-resident returns. Please email with any further questions.

Attention: The final official day of the FSA program is Saturday, April 24th, and the remaining Volunteer Advising session have been revised to only the dates below.

Saturday, 4/17/21, 12:00-4:00pm

Tuesday, 4/20/21, 5:30-8:30pm

Saturday, 4/24/21, 12:00-4:00pm

The guide in the portal link below is designed only for those who have already determined that they are Non-Residents for tax filing purposes for this filing season. Please see the section below entitled “Resident or Non-Resident for Federal Tax Filing Purposes” to help you determine if you should be considered a Non-Resident for tax purposes and, therefore, able to use the resources of this FSA Program.

If, from the Resident vs. Non-resident information below, you believe you are a Resident for tax purposes, or if you have a very complicated immigration or tax history that makes you unclear about your tax filing status, we recommend you take advantage of the free resources offered by the separate Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in Iowa City hosted through the Tippie College of Business. Also, if you earned income during 2019 and should have filed a return last tax season but did not file it at that time, then please also use the Tippie VITA program since they are equipped to help with filing 2019 and 2020 tax year returns together. Our FSA is only equipped to help file 2020 non-resident returns. Information about the Tippie VITA program is at

Before clicking on the Portal link below to view further directions and the TaxSlayer guide, please see also the “Things Needed When Completing the FSA Software” section below to begin to prepare for filling out the information once you have set up your TaxSlayer account. If you were a student or scholar during 2020 but are not able to access the guide through the portal link below, please email to request further instructions.
The FSA Software Portal

Resident or non-Resident for Federal Tax Filing Purposes:

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F or J visas are considered non-residents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J1 & F1 visas are automatically considered non-resident for their first 5 calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for 2 out of the last 6 calendar years in the US. If you are an F-1 student planning to file your 2020 tax year returns during this Spring 2021 tax season, but you arrived for the first time in f-1 status prior to January 1st 2016, then you are most likely now a "resident for tax filing purposes". If you are a paid J-1 scholar who entered the US for the first time in that status prior to January 1st 2019, you are most likely also a "resident for tax filing purposes” and similarly should seek out Resident filing resources. Non-Resident tax filers can be served by our program and would complete form 1040NR as their main filing form while Residents for tax filing purposes complete form 1040 as is used by US citizens and permanent residents. If you believe that you may have inadvertently filed as a Resident this tax season or in past tax seasons, or have receive a Stimulus check for which you are not sure you are eligible, please see question 61 at the bottom of the IRS Link below since stimulus repayment checks will need to be sent to a separate IRS destination as soon as possible and this would be apart from any amended return application sent to the government. You may contact to inquire further about options but it is likely that you will need to work with the VITA program through Tippie mentioned above or employ the services of a tax professional to remedy your tax situation if you have erroneously received stimulus funds.

Things Needed When Completing The FSA Software

Information from the items below is necessary to complete the tax software so please arrange to have access to this information:

  • Passport and Visa
  • Your "Travel History" from the digital record from the I-94 Government Website. To complete the tax software you must calculate the number of days you were present in the US during 2020 and prior years and the dates from this site, as well as the ink entry stamps in your passport, can be used with any Online Date Calculator to establish this.
  • Form I-20 (if an F status individual) or Form DS-2019 (if a J status individual)
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you have no SSN or ITIN yet, email to discuss this.
  • All Forms W-2 and 1042-S that were mailed to you or available on the UI Self Service site. These forms are not available until the end of January every year. Please see the paragraphs directly below this bullet point list for more information on the W-2 and 1042-S and email the UI Payroll Office at if you have any question about those forms.
  • Your bank routing number and checking account number for direct deposit of your refund. These numbers are located on your personal checks from your bank.
  • A copy of your 2020 (TY2019) federal income tax form (Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ) if you filed a federal income tax return last year. The most important information needed from these documents is the amount of the Adjusted Gross Income(AGI) from the past 1040NR-EZ (line 10) or 1040NR (line 35). If you did not retain any copies of your last year's 1040NR(-EZ) were not able to download your past 1040NR-EZ from online software accounts you used last year, then the only option is to request an AGI transcript directly from the government. The online option may not work for many students so they must request a paper AGI transcript to be sent to them using their prior year's mailing address (which is the only way to verify your identity, and is problematic if you have a new address).
  • Address Information (Current U.S. Address if you are still living in the U.S. and Permanent Foreign Address)
  • Academic Institution or Host Sponsor Information
  • Scholarship or fellowship grant letters (if you received one from your academic institution or host sponsor)

ISSS sponsors Tax Assistance workshops for UI international students and scholars. Workshop volunteers are certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to assist international students and scholars in preparing non-resident tax returns. Volunteers can also answer questions about how to fill out and send Iowa tax returns and the Federal Form 8843.

UI Human Resources Payroll Office collects and maintains data to determine nonresident alien vs. resident alien status for tax purposes. W-2 forms are made available in mid-to-late January through MyUI or through the UI Employee Self-Service website. Students can view their W-2 and other tax information by going to the “Student Records” tab in MyUI and in the “Finances and Billing” section click on the “HRIS Self Service and Earnings Statements” link. That link will bring you to the Employee Self Service site and under the “Payroll” section you can select “View Year End Tax Information” to get a PDF of your W-2.

International students or scholars may or may not have a 1042-S form depending on different circumstances. For details, please go to the Employee Self Service , and in the “Time and Pay” select the “Year End Tax Information” link in the "Taxes" section to find the then “1042-S Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.”

If you have any inquiry about your form W-2, 1042-S, tax treaties, payroll and withholding of taxes, please call or visit the UI Payroll Office or email

Tax resources for international students and scholars generally are made available during March and April of every year to current nonimmigrant international students and scholars and those who were present at the University of Iowa during the prior tax year. If you no longer reside in the U.S. but were present for any length of time during 2020, you are required to fill out tax forms. To learn about how to access this software, go to our Tax Software Website.

For questions about VITA workshops only, please send an email to

    A Warning About Other Tax Services

    If you are classified as a non-resident, you may NOT file a resident return. Residency, for tax purposes, is determined by the “Substantial Presence Test.”

    Only those who are determined to have "resident" filing status may complete a resident return. Most students and scholars will be classified as non-residents for tax purposes. Some tax assistance sites have erroneously filed resident returns for non-residents, who were promised larger refunds by this method. This could result in a charge of tax fraud against you, which may jeopardize your legal status. The fact that your preparer erred will not excuse you from liability. The UI Payroll Office is the resource for determining your residency and tax liability so please consult the non-resident portion of their tax information page and contact with any questions. During tax season volunteers at the workshops can also help clarify your filing status and they can also be contacted at ISSS urges you to protect yourself in this matter or you may have to file an amended return and pay back any fraudulently refunded monies.