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Office of International Programs

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

Federal and State 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. Filing income tax forms is your personal responsibility and you are ultimately responsible for their accuracy.

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).


Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR)

To assist international students and scholars with tax concerns, the MSU Office of International Programs is sponsoring free access toThomson Reuters Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR), tax software designed exclusively for international students. Access codes are available to F-1 and J-1 students and scholars who attended MSU during the 2014 fiscal year, including students who have graduated or are on OPT.

To obtain an FNTR access code, contact the International Student Coordinator at

How can Foreign National Tax Resource help me complete my tax forms?
Foreign National Tax Resource includes a tax resource library AND a comprehensive tax preparation program that:

Before accessing FNTR, make sure you have the following documents ready:

Typical forms that a student may receive for tax filing purposes are:

Please note there may be other tax forms that you might have received.


Frequently asked questions about filing American taxes at MSU:

Can the Office of International Programs help me file my taxes?
The Office of International Programs staff are not tax experts and cannot provide tax advice. We have purchased Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR) to help you file your own taxes. FNTR is user friendly tax preparation software created specifically for international students who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes. FNTR will help you navigate U.S. federal tax forms, residency status, tax treaties, exemptions, and deductions.

Do I have to file a tax return?
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 FNTR to determine their tax filing requirement. You may be required to file taxes with the State of North Dakota as well. 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.

Does FNTR offer software and tax support?
Yes. Submit your questions to FNTR using the following link You must be logged in to FNTR to submit the "Contact Us" form.

I'm an F-1 student with no U.S. income or scholarships for 2014. Do I need to file anything?
All non-resident aliens for tax purposes are required to complete Form 8843 with the IRS regardless is payment was received or not. Even if you arrived in December of last year, 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 FNTR?
No, non-resident aliens for tax purposes cannot file tax reports electronically. Once you provide FNTR with all of the required information, the system will auto-fill the appropriate FEDERAL tax forms. To complete the tax filing requirement, you must print the forms and mail them to the address provided on the instruction sheet on Foreign National Tax Resource. 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.

North Dakota guidelines for non-resident aliens:  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:

ND-1 Booklet (tax tables-page 20):

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. Filing income tax forms is your personal responsibility and you are ultimately responsible for their accuracy.



Last updated Feb. 23, 2015