The University of Iowa

ALERT!  The on-site Tax Workshops For International Students Held in Previous Years  have been suspended due to covid 19 restrictions. The Program for 2021 to assist non-Resident International students and scholars with thier non-resident filing obligations is currently in the works. the 2021 Program will be a completely remote program that will provide free non-resident filing software to current or otherwise eligible international students and scholars.

the Program that Coordinators have developed will no longer be termed a "VITA" (Volunteer Income Tax Assistnce) program but will Now be what is called aN "FSA" (Facilitated Self-Assistance) anD will be in an online fully-remote format where students receive directions to fill out most of the software beforehand and then sign up for a Zoom Meeting to meet virtually with a Volunteer before proceeding to complete the e-file section. Once This Program becomes Fully Functional in late February all interntional Students and Scholars will be Alerted via official email list-serves.  This program and the Software Directions given in response to emails to are designed for non-residents only. The FSA virtual resouces and associated TaxSlayer and Zoom resources will end in mid-April.  

Please Read the paragraph Directly below regarding tax residency status and remember that as a non-resident in the US you should not file a resident return using any of the commonly available tax software (i.e. don't use Turbotax, H&r block, taxact, etc..) designed for Citizens, residents, and those few F-1 and J-1 visa holders who are considered residents for tax filing purposes. the federal filing deadline for is  April 15. Please email with questions.  

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-EZ 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 request further resources to help determine your tax residency status.


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 prior to visiting the workshop. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 resouces for international students and scholars generally are made avialable 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.