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Office of International Programs

U.S. Taxes

Local, State & Federal Tax

Please note that staff members at the Office of International Programs are not trained in taxes and are not able to answer tax questions. Any MSU employee or another student’s advice cannot be relied upon since they are not acting as a certified tax professional. Filing income tax forms is your personal responsibility and you are ultimately responsible for its accuracy.

The deadline for filing your tax return is April 15th!

In the United States, it is each individual’s personal responsibility to meet his or her tax obligations; the government will not do it for you, but it will penalize you if you do not do it yourself. If you work, at the time of your hire, you are responsible for helping your employer estimate how much of your income should be "withheld" (or deducted) from your wages for the purpose of paying taxes by filling out a Form W-4 Tax Withholding Worksheet (see below for more information on this document). Your employer pays those amounts directly to the United States Treasury on your behalf. In your annual tax return, you must reconcile your account with the government to verify that you paid the right amount over the course of the year. If you paid too much, you may claim a refund, which will be paid promptly unless the government disagrees with your calculations. Americans call the process "filing a tax return."

Even though U.S. tax laws are difficult to understand, do not be tempted to ignore this obligation. Each year the USCIS and IRS increase the amount of information they share. It is in your best interest to meet your tax obligation. * Penalties for not filing in a timely manner can be substantial. *

Foreign students and scholars, regardless of whether or not they work or earn income while in the United States, ARE REQUIRED to file an appropriate tax document each year. Students and scholars who do not earn any income are still responsible to file form 8843 with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

Sprintax

To help you file your taxes, the Office of International Programs has contracted with Sprintax. Sprintax is a user friendly tax preparation software created specifically for international students who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes.  Sprintax will help you navigate U.S. federal tax forms, residency status, tax treaties, exemptions, and deductions. 

24-hour help is available by emailing hello@sprintax.com.

Even if you didn’t work or receive income in the U.S., you’re still legally obliged to file a federal tax return with the IRS to declare no earnings. All you need to do is:

  1. Collect all the necessary documents
  2. Register at www.sprintax.com and follow the simple instructions
  3. Complete the online questionnaire
  4. Enter your unique user code (available by emailing Elizabeth.Sund@minotstateu.edu)
  5. Sprintax will prepare your tax return and check if you’re due a refund.
  6. Print and send your documents to the address provided by Sprintax.

You may be required to file a state tax return as well. Sprintax will inform you if this is necessary, and will prepare your state taxes for an additional fee of $25.95 which you must pay personally. Keep in mind that it takes a minimum of 3 days for Sprintax to prepare state tax forms, so plan ahead. For 24 hour help, email hello@sprintax.com or use their chat feature while logged in.

 Documents to Save and Use in Preparing Taxes

Before you begin the filing process, be sure you have all the necessary information with you.

  • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement: Issued by employers to show a summary of the total amount of wages earned during the year and the amount of money withheld for any taxes. You will only receive this form if you have been employed.  If you worked at MSU and/or an off-campus company, you should receive one Form W-2 issued from each company you worked at even if it was for a short period of time.  Minot State University’s W-2 forms are available electronically on or before January 31 through HRMS Self Service login>Self Service>Payroll and Compensation>View W-2 Forms. You can also contact the Payroll Office at (701)-858-3344.
  • Form 1042-S: The 1042-S form will only be given to students who have received scholarship or fellowship money that exceeds tuition and related fee charges or have worked at MSU and used a tax treaty exemption for part or all of their salary. You will not receive the 1042-S form if you only have a tuition waiver on your account and do not receive any paychecks. 1042-S forms will be issued by Payroll Office and mailed on or before January 31 each year.  If you think you should have this form and haven’t in early February, please contact the Payroll Office above for a new one by calling (701)-858-3344.
  • Form 1098T Tuition Statement: The 1098T tuition statement reports qualified educational expenses to you and the IRS. Box 2, amount billed, will reflect the total tuition and fees charged minus any applicable waivers that were applied.  Scholarship are reported in Box 5 of the 1098T.  Please note, the amount shown on the 1098-T form may be different than the amount you have actually paid.  That is because some of your related costs (such as books, housing, board, etc.) may not appear on the form.  Those expenses are not reportable to the IRS.  The 1098T form is available electronically on or before January 31 through your Student Center>Finances>View 1098-T Info. You can also call the Business Office for more information at (701) 858-3333. *Canadians will also need to pick up a TL11A tuition statement from the International Office for their Canadian taxes, but TL11As are not used for U.S. tax returns.
  • Form 1099: (Interest Income): Issued by your bank and shows the interest you received on deposits in your bank account. Not all students will receive these forms. Contact your personal bank for more information.

Please note there may be other tax forms that you receive.

You will also need to collect the following information before preparing to file your returns:

    • Passport
    • I-20
    • Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification number (generally not required if you will file only Form 8843)
    • Address information (current U.S. address and foreign address)
    • U.S. entry and exit dates for all visits to the U.S. during the last 3 calendar years
    • Scholarship/fellowship grant letter (if any)
    • A copy of last year's federal income tax return, if filed
    • Note: Under “Academic institution or host sponsor information” in Sprintax, enter “Libby Claerbout, Director of Office of International Programs, Minot State University, Minot North Dakota 58707. (701)-858-2248”.

 

Frequently asked questions about filing American taxes at MSU:

Can the Office of International Programs help me file my taxes?

No. The Office of International Programs staff are not tax experts and cannot provide tax advice. We have purchased Sprintax to help you file your own taxes.  Sprintax is a user friendly tax preparation software created specifically for international students who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes.  Sprintax will help you navigate U.S. federal tax forms, residency status, tax treaties, exemptions, and deductions.  24 hour help is available by emailing hello@sprintax.com.

Do I have to file a tax return?

Yes. International students who have been in the U.S. for any portion of the previous year must file an annual tax report by the following year's tax filing deadline. International students and scholars should access Sprintax to determine their tax filing requirement. You may be required to file taxes with the State of North Dakota as well, which is a service available from Sprintax for an additional fee and takes at least three days to process. Income that is taxed includes wages, scholarships and earnings on investments.

What is the deadline to file tax forms?

The deadline is April 15 each year. The deadline refers to the date the envelope is postmarked by the post office. Remember, if you decide to use Sprintax to do your state taxes as well, it can take a few days to process so plan ahead.

Does Sprintax offer software and tax support?

Yes. You can use the live chat feature while logged in to Sprintax or you can email for 24 hour help at hello@sprintax.com. Remember, the Office of International programs cannot answer tax questions.

I had no U.S. income or scholarships last year. Do I need to file anything?

Yes. Even if you arrived in December of last year and did not work, you still need to fill out a Form 8843.

I need to fill out a Form 8843, do I need a Social Security Number?

No, you don’t need a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number if you only need to submit a Form 8843. But if you have previously been assigned a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, you must include it on the form.

Can I submit my tax forms electronically through Sprintax?

No, non-resident aliens for tax purposes cannot file tax reports electronically. Once you provide Sprintax with all of the required information, the system will auto-fill the appropriate tax forms. To complete the tax filing requirement, you must print the forms and mail them to the address on the instruction sheet provided by Sprintax. The address will depend on the form(s) you are filing.

What are the consequences of not filing?

Payment of income tax due is not voluntary, it is required by law. One of the conditions of your visa is to comply with U.S. laws. If you owe taxes and don't file, the IRS can charge penalties, interest and seize U.S. bank assets for repayment. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt. There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file taxes. Applicants for permanent residency or "green cards" are frequently asked to show proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.

Do I need to file North Dakota State Taxes?

Maybe. If you only need to fill out a Form 8843 with the Federal Government because you were not employed and did not have scholarships in the previous calendar year, then you do not need to fill out a state tax return. If you were employed or received scholarships in the previous calendar year, you will be required to complete a North Dakota state tax return.

Sprintax does offer state tax services, but it will cost $24.95 and will take a few days for them to complete. The Office of International Programs cannot pay for state tax services, but you may want to take advantage of this service because state taxes can be difficult to file on your own.

North Dakota guidelines for non-resident aliens: http://www.nd.gov/tax/faqs/articles/24-/ Print a copy of the instructions and follow them closely, using the copy of your Federal tax return, the form(s) listed below and the tax tables in the North Dakota Booklet.  

North Dakota Form ND-1:  http://www.nd.gov/tax/user/individuals/forms--publications/individual-income-tax/forms-instructions-iit/current-year-individual-income-tax-forms--instructions/ 

If you have any questions regarding North Dakota Income Tax or completing your North Dakota Tax return, please contact the North Dakota Tax Department by calling (701) 328-1260.

Please note that staff members at the Office of International Programs are not trained in taxes and are not able to answer tax questions. Any MSU employee or another student’s advice cannot be relied upon since they are not acting as a tax preparer. Filing income tax forms is your personal responsibility and you are ultimately responsible for their accuracy.

 

 

Page last updated January 13, 2016