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Do I need to file tax forms as an international student?

As a short-term international student, do I need to file any U.S. tax forms?

Yes. Nonimmigrants temporarily residing inside the U.S. in F, J, M, or Q status (referred to as "aliens" by the U.S. government) who have spent any part of at least one day in the United States during the year 2016, but who have been in F, J, M, or Q status for a total of less than five years, must file an annual tax form called Form 8843. This obligation includes dependents regardless of their age.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the name of the U.S. federal tax office. You can find the most current version of the Form 8843 on the IRS website

What is purpose of Form 8843?

The purpose of Form 8843 is to attest that you have not been in F, J, M, or Q status continuously for more than five years. Any nonimmigrants in F, J, M, and/or Q visa status who have continuously resided inside the U.S. for longer than the past five years are considered to be "aliens" for tax purposes only. (Aliens who have been in F, J, M, or Q status continuously for more than the past five years should not file Form 8843.)


I did not earn any income during the time I was in F, J, M, or Q status. Do I need to file Form 8843?

Yes. The form needs to be submitted by all nonimmigrants in F, J, M, or Q status regardless of whether they earned any wages during their authorized stay inside the U.S. All aliens who were in F, J, M, or Q status for even one day in the United States in 2016 (but who have not been in F, J, M, or Q status continuously for more than the past five years) must file a tax form 8843 for 2016.


When is the deadline to send ("file") Form 8843?

If you did not earn any wages in the U.S. during your authorized stay in the year 2016, the IRS needs to receive your completed Form 8843 by June 15, 2017.


How do I calculate the number of days I've been here for Part I, Question 4a?

Part I, Question 4a is asking for the total number of days that you were physically present inside the U.S. while in F, J, M, or Q status—including the days when your program was not is session. For example, you need to include the days you were physically present in the U.S. in the days leading up to the start of your study program as well as the days that you remained inside the U.S. in that status after your study program ended. If you're unsure about the amount of days, there are several tools available to you to assist in easily calculating that response. 

What is the substantial presence test?

The substantial presence test is a formula used to determine an alien's U.S. tax residency status (to see whether you are considered to be an "alien nonresident" or an "alien resident").

IMPORTANT: On Form 8843, Part I, Question 4B is asking the alien to indicate the number of days MORE THAN five years that the alien has been in F, J, M, or Q status during the previous five years. Aliens who have not met the terms of the substantial presence test should write "zero" as their response to that question.

What should I write for Part III on Form 8843?

For Item 9 fill out the contact information for UCSB Extension:

2160 Kerr Hall
UCSB
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-1110
Phone: (805) 893-4200


For Item 10 please write the contact info of our Dean for purposes of Form 8843: 

Bob York
UCSB
2160 Kerr Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-1110
Phone: (805) 893-2944


Where should I send ("file") my tax form(s)?

Send your tax forms to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service Center Austin, TX 73301-0215

(Note that this is the complete address; there is no street name)


Can any one at UCSB Extension help me file my taxes?

No. UCSB Extension staff are not trained tax professionals.


I earned income from a U.S. source while I was in F, J, M, or Q status during 2016. What should I do?

Please send an e-mail to help@extension.ucsb.edu to inquire about filing additional required tax forms by the April 15 deadline.


How will I receive tax year reporting requirements?

All F, J, M, and Q visa holders studying at UCSB Extension for any part of the year will receive information via e-mail regarding the year's filing deadlines and any new procedural information.

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