[Ask The Tax Whiz] How do international students file tax returns in the United States?

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[Ask The Tax Whiz] How do international students file tax returns in the United States?


The Philippine Tax Whiz discusses the process of filing tax returns in the US for international students

Part 1: [Ask The Tax Whiz] If I am in the United States, where do I file and pay my taxes?

1. I am a Harvard student with an F-1 student visa who arrived in the United States on July 6, 2022. Do I need to file a tax return even though I didn’t receive income from the United States? 

Yes. As an international student, you are considered a non-resident alien for tax purposes. Depending on whether or not you have taxes due, you will be required to file either Form 8843, Form 1040NR, or both. If you do not have any income to declare, you need to file Form 8843 for exempt individuals. Otherwise, you have to file Form 1040NR to declare your income.

2. What are the other documents that I need in filing my Form 8843? Do I need a Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number?

If you have no income to declare, you only need to file Form 8843, but you will need the following documents as well: passport and visa documents. However, if you have income to declare, you will need, in addition to your passport and visa documents, your Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security Number (SSS) for wages or compensation income.

3. If I have no income to declare and I need to file Form 8843, can I do it online or electronically? How do I file Form 8843?

Unfortunately, no. You need to file Form 8843 manually. Here’s the step by step process to follow:

4. Where to submit Form 8843?

After, completing the details in Form 8843, you can now mail the return to this address:

Department of the Treasury 
Internal Revenue Service Center 
Austin, TX 73301-0215

You can use this format to guide you in mailing your return:

5. Should I declare it if I receive a scholarship or grant for my research or project while I’m in the United States? What if I conduct the research or project outside the United States, will the tax rate and requirements be the same?

If you receive a scholarship or grant for your research and project and it is a US source required to cover your educational expenses like tuition fees, course-related expenses, such as  books, supplies, and equipment that are required for the courses at the eligible educational institution and you are a candidate for a degree then it is not required to be reported in the federal tax return and not subject to withholding tax. 

However, if part of the scholarship received does not constitute qualified education expenses like travel, room, and board, then it should be reported in Form 1040NR and is subject to 14% withholding tax or a lower treaty rate if you are holding an F, J, M, or Q visa. Other immigration status, it will be subject to a 30% withholding tax rate.

Note that If you received your scholarship outside the United States, then it is considered as foreign source income for tax purposes. Hence, since non-resident aliens are only liable for US source income, you will not have to report it for tax purposes.

6. As a Harvard student, are you still required to file an annual income tax return in the Philippines? 

Generally, my answer would have been, no. Overseas Filipinos are not required to file tax returns in the Philippines except if they generate income from the Philippines.

But since I earn professional income as a tax consultant or advisor at the Asian Consulting Group (ACG), I still file quarterly and annual tax returns. In fact, I just filed my annual income tax return on February 14, 2023 which is my way of expressing my love for our country and the official kickoff of our tax awareness campaign to remind everyone to file and pay their taxes correctly and on time. 

If you are in the Philippines, you may file your Annual Income Tax Return through TaxWhizPH Mobile App. –

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