(Information about completing
forms for calendar year 2008)
tax filing season again and we are sure that many
of you are questioning whether you must file tax forms,
how to complete the forms and much more. This update has been
designed to provide students and scholars with basic information
and resources about your tax filing obligations, how to complete
and submit the correct tax forms on time and how to pay the proper
tax or, better yet, receive a tax refund.
international scholars and students in F-1 or J-1 status
as well as dependents in F-2 and J-2 status who were
physically present in the US any time between January
1, 2008 and
2008 must complete
and submit some type of 2008 federal tax form. International
students and scholars in other immigration classifications may also
be required to complete and submit tax forms. The number and type
of form you must complete depend on whether you earned income during
2008, the type of income you received, the length of time you have
been physically present in the US
and other factors.
are often complicated, even for those native to the United
States. There are many different
kinds of taxes in the US
and different agencies are responsible for collecting these taxes.
Please be advised that the staff of the International Students and
Scholars Office does not specialize in international tax law and
can not answer specific questions regarding your individual tax
is a Tax Return?
the US, federal and state income taxes are prepaid by each employer
based on the “estimate” of tax liability indicated at the start
of employment by the employee on the Form W-4. Since the withholding
is only an estimate, employees are given a yearly opportunity to
reconcile the amount of tax withheld with how much was owed. The
name of the form on which the reconciliation is made is called the
“Tax Return”. The federal tax return must be completed and submitted
to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). State tax returns must be
submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) and/or
to the state agency in any other US state where you have received
income in 2008. In some cases, filing the tax return results in
a refund because the tax withholding was higher than necessary.
However, sometimes a taxpayer does not have enough tax withheld
throughout the year so you may need to send a payment to the IRS
with your tax return. Occasionally, the total taxes withheld match
the amount due, so no money is due by either the taxpayer or the
must I complete and submit my tax return?
you have earned income in 2008, all federal and state tax forms
must be postmarked by April
you have not earned income in 2008 or you are filing from outside
the US, your forms must be postmarked by June 15, 2009.
Must File a Tax Return?
anyone who has earned income while in the US must file a tax return.
In addition, all F-1 and J-1 students and scholars and their F-2
and J-2 dependents are required to complete and submit at least
one tax form. Taxpayers are divided into two general categories
for tax purposes regardless of income: residents and nonresidents.
do I determine my tax residence category?
is important not to confuse immigration terms of resident and nonresident
with taxpayer categories that have the same name. Residence for
tax purposes is defined based on the Substantial Presence Test (SPT)
which is independent from your immigration classification. The SPT
is the calculation that the federal government uses to determine
when nonresident aliens for immigration purposes have been in the
United States long enough to be considered residents for tax purposes.
The CINTAX system described below should help you determine your
tax residence status.
(for tax purposes)
are taxed only on their US
income and usually complete
Forms 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. While nonresidents are not required
to file a federal or state tax return if their earned income amount
is below the stated personal exemption amount, they are encouraged
to file a return if taxes were withheld from their pay check as
they will likely receive a refund.
addition, all individuals in F-1 and J-1 immigration
status (including F-2 and J-2 dependents - spouses and children
under the age of 21) filing as nonresidents for tax purposes are
required to file a Form 8843 - Statement for Exempt Individuals.
Filing this form does not mean you are exempt from taxes, but
rather that you are exempt from counting days of physical presence
in the US to determine if you are to be taxed as a resident or
a nonresident. Keep in mind that even if you have not earned any
income, you are still required to complete and submit the Form
8843. This form requires information about immigration status
and tax treaty claims. For additional information regarding completing
Form 8843, see the CINTAX instructions below or link directly
the time individuals in F-1 and J-1 immigration status are “exempt
individuals,” they will remain nonresidents for tax purposes even
though they are present in the United
States for 183 days or more.
Once they exceed “exempt individual” status, days of physical
presence will be counted and they may become residents for tax
(for tax purposes)
are taxed by the US
on their worldwide income and generally complete the Form 1040-EZ
or the 1040 and required schedule forms. Some examples of a resident
for tax purposes are:
F and J students (and their dependents) who no longer qualify
as “exempt individuals” as they have been physically present in
over five tax years
J scholars (and their dependents) who no longer qualify as “exempt
individuals” as they have been physically present in the US
for more than two out of every
six tax years
foreign nationals in any other immigration classification who
are physically present in the US for 183 days or more in any three
documentation do I need to collect before I begin?
earned or received income in the US, you
are required to gather official documentation from various
sources in order to complete the tax forms. Sources of
income may include on-campus employment, scholarships, fellowships,
graduate assistantships, stipends, practical or academic training,
and any compensation received for labor. “Income” is not limited
to wages paid to the nonresident in cash, but also includes that
portion of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship that is applied
to housing and meal expenses. Some examples of this official
documentation are a Form W-2 from your employer, Form
1042-S from Boston University
and/or another academic institution
you attended in 2008, Form 1099 from your bank or any
other forms showing income etc. A complete list of the required
documentation can be found at: http://www.bu.edu/isso/taxes/2009/cintax
and scholars who received taxable income during 2008 from Boston
University should have already received a Form W-2
which shows the wages you earned and taxes Boston University
withheld. The W-2 forms were mailed by the Office of Payroll
on January 31, 2009. If you have any questions regarding your Form W-2,
please contact the Boston University Office of Payroll directly.
who received a scholarship or fellowship from Boston University
or students who are claiming a tax treaty in 2008 will be sent
a Form 1042-S which shows the amounts paid to foreign
students, trainees, teachers and researchers. In addition, students
who have claimed a tax treaty exemption for their wages or
stipends will also receive a Form 1042-S which will show
the federal wages covered by the tax treaty. The Office
of Payroll at Boston University will mail all Forms 1042-S
after March 6, 2009.
If you expect to receive a Form 1042-S, you will not
be able to begin completing your tax forms until after
you have received the form. If you have any questions regarding
your Form 1042-S, please contact the Boston University
Office of Payroll directly.
do I get started on completing my tax return?
order to facilitate the filing of your federal tax returns, the
ISSO has purchased licenses to CINTAX, a web-based tax return preparation
system designed exclusively for nonresident international students,
scholars and their dependents. Please note that the CINTAX
password you will need to create your individual CINTAX login will
be sent to you in a private email from the ISSO. Once you have
the password and the required documentation, click on the following
link to create your login to CINTAX and start to prepare your federal
tax return: http://www.bu.edu/isso/taxes/2009/cintax.html
will assist you in determining whether you are considered a nonresident
or a resident for tax purposes.
you are considered to be a nonresident for tax purposes, it will
then help you complete the required federal forms which you must
print, sign and mail, with supporting documentation. If the CINTAX
system determines that you are a resident for tax purposes, then
you are required to complete resident tax forms on your own.
addition, if you have earned income in Massachusetts (or any other
state) in the 2008 calendar year, then you will also be required
to complete and submit a 2008 Massachusetts State tax form (or other
state forms) separately. If you are a nonresident for tax purposes,
then you should find that the federal forms you prepare through
CINTAX will help you complete most of the state tax return as well.
CINTAX is not an option for all of our students and scholars as
some are determined to be residents for tax purposes, it will assist
the majority of our international community as most students file
nonresidents tax returns. Furthermore, it will definitively confirm
if you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes which is generally
the most complicated step in deciding which tax returns to complete
I hire someone to prepare my tax forms for me?
Students and scholars who have more complicated tax cases or simply
want assistance in completing their tax forms can pay a tax service
provider or a tax consultant.
H&R Block, a tax service specialist, is offering Boston University
clients a special $20 discount in the completion of their state
and federal tax forms. The estimated price to complete both forms
as a nonresident is $200. The exact fees for tax form completion
may vary according to the type of tax forms you may need to complete.
In addition, if you use CINTAX to complete your federal tax forms
and you wish to complete your state tax return through H&R Block,
the discount will not apply and you will be charged approximately
$65. In order to take advantage of the $20 discount, you must
show your Boston University ID at:
and tax attorneys
You also have the option of hiring a lawyer to assist you in reporting
your taxes and to file your forms. A listing can be found in a phone
directory or at http://www.bigyellow.com
under a category such as “tax returns, consultants, & representatives.”
If you choose to hire a private agency or lawyer, we strongly recommend
that you make certain they specialize in tax issues unique to foreign
do I do if I don't have a Social Security Number?
Students who have earned income should have a Social Security Number.
If you do not have a Social Security Number, please visit the following
ISSO web page regarding how to apply for a Social
can I obtain the forms directly if I do not use CINTAX?
can prepare tax forms on your own by downloading the forms at the
state tax forms
forms for other states
Where can I get more information?
has designed a section of their official website specifically to
assist international students and scholars in completing tax returns
at the following link: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=96431,00.html
tax returns: You can visit the Boston Office of the IRS from 8:30
am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday at the John F. Kennedy (JFK)
Federal Building in Government Center on the 7th floor. This office
can be reached by telephone at (617) 316-2850 or via their website
Forms: You can telephone the
Boston Office of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR),
at (617) 887-6367
am to 5
Tax Guide for Aliens
Treaty Tables and descriptions
of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Corporations
of International Educators
Information presented in this handout is for general information
and is not intended to be nor should it be construed as legal tax
advice. While the ISSO has arranged for the services of CINTAX and
H&R Block, and a professional tax provider at a workshop, international
students and scholars can choose how they wish to complete and submit
tax forms as it is the individual's sole responsibility to meet
all tax filing obligations. International students and scholars
are encouraged to follow CINTAX instructions to prepare federal
forms online and/or consult the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
local and state tax agencies and tax professionals for advice and
guidance regarding their individual tax situations.