International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) encourages all international students and scholars to file taxes in compliance with federal and state tax regulations. ISSS Advisors are unable to give individual tax advice - members of the NRA-VITA volunteer tax program who administer the tax workshops and respond to the firstname.lastname@example.org email are the only ISSS staff able to advise on F-1 and J-1 tax issues.
- Federal Taxes: April 18, 2017
- Iowa State Taxes: May 1, 2017
- Form 8843 only (no income earned): June 15, 2017
Please note that all non-residents (for tax purposes) who were present in the U.S. in F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, or M-2 status during 2016 must file Form 8843, even if they received no income during 2016. This form does not require a social security number or ITIN. For assistance with filing Form 8843, please plan to attend a VITA workshop.
Tax Return Preparation Software
ISSS provides access to federal tax preparation software for current University of Iowa nonimmigrant students and scholars and those who were present at the University of Iowa during the 2016 tax year. The easiest way to take the best advantage of this free software is in conjunction with the VITA tax workshops where volunteers can guide you more quickly through the process. Access to Windstar FNTR software becomes available in January of each year so please visit the tax software webpage for more information. Students and scholars whose program has ended or who will be outside of the Iowa City area during the workshops will still be able to access the software and can contact email@example.com if in need of assistance.
Caution: Non-residents should not use standard commercial tax preparation software, such as Turbo Tax. Many of these programs are not meant to be used for non-resident tax purposes and will cause you to submit incorrect tax information to the U.S. and Iowa governments.
Non-Resident Alien Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (NRA VITA) Workshops for University of Iowa
ISSS sponsors Non-Resident Alien Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (NRA-VITA) workshops for UI international students and scholars. Workshop volunteers are certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to assist international students and scholars in using the Windstar software and preparing non-resident tax returns. Volunteers can also answer questions about State of Iowa tax returns and Form 8843. NRA-VITA workshops are open to current University of Iowa nonimmigrant international students and scholars and those who were present at the University of Iowa during the 2016 tax year. NRA-VITA workshops begin in March. The 2017 (TY2016) schedule will soon be available on the tax workshop webpage. Questions about international student/scholar tax issues can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Warning about Tax Scams and Fraudulent Emails
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not discuss tax account information with taxpayers via e-mail or use e-mail to solicit sensitive financial and personal information from taxpayers. For more information, view the following webpages provided by the IRS.
Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS
Information about Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts
Resources relating to international student and scholar tax
“Ten Common Tax Return Errors and the Foreign Nationals Who Make Them”
United States Income Tax Treaties - A to Z
Nafsa Federal Income Tax Brochure This brochure is designed to offer general guidelines only for federal income tax obligations, including determining tax residency and which forms must be filed and when.
VITA for residents (sponsored by UI College of Business)
State of Iowa Department of Revenue
Tax Information for Employers of International Students
Employers may legally hire students in F-1 or J-1 status for academically-related employment when they receive Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Academic Training (AT) authorization.
Types of Employment Authorization
In some cases, internationals students in F-1 status pursuing degrees at the UI are eligible for internships or other types of work experience in their fields of study. This permission is granted by ISSS and submitted to SEVIS, the federal immigration informational database.
Following graduation or completion of coursework, most students in F-1 status are eligible to accept up to 12 months of employment for "optional practical training" experience. This authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. OPT is an extension of F-1 status that allows for a period of work following graduation.
J-1 students are eligible for academic training, either during the course of study or directly after graduation. The authorization is granted by ISSS and submitted to SEVIS.
Students who have been in the U.S. less than 5 years (and are therefore nonresidents for tax purposes) and who are on practical training off-campus are not subject to any FICA (social security) and Medicare withholdings. 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 with the only qualification being that the person be a nonresident for tax purposes and that the work is authorized (CPT, OPT, AT). IRS Publication 519 is a good resource.
Though F-1 and J-1 students working off campus are exempt from FICA, they are subject to the higher federal (and state) withholding for nonresident aliens.
Since it is cumbersome to request a refund of taxes withheld in error, ISSS would like to ask employers to make a determination of the student’s tax status prior to withholding. In most cases, the student will be a nonresident alien and therefore not subject to the taxes mentioned above.
Completing the I-9
The employer should mark in Section 1 that he/she is "an alien authorized to work until" (date of expiration of work authorization). The admissions number is the 11 digit number given on the I-94 entry document.
For students on Optional Practical Training, the employer can use the I-688B to complete List A on the I-9. The document title is "Employment Authorization Document", issuing authority is USCIS, document number and expiration can both be found on the front of the card.
For further information, see the U.S. Department of Justice Handbook for Employers, Publication M-274.
It is the responsibility of the student to insure that the job he/she takes on practical training is related to the degree he/she is seeking or has completed at The UI. The student is also responsible for maintaining contact with The UI, as the institution is still responsible for the student’s legal status in the U.S. Under federal immigration law, student’s have 10 days to report a change of name or address to the UI.
Disclaimer: International Student and Scholar Services provides this tax resource information to UI students and scholars for informational and educational purposes and not as a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a qualified tax professional. Students and scholars who have questions about their income tax situation should consult a qualified tax professional. Each person is responsible for the accuracy of his/her income tax returns and any resulting penalties or interest.