Taxes and Social Security Numbers
PLEASE NOTE: ADVISORS IN THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT OFFICE ARE NOT ABLE TO GIVE TAX ADVICE ABOUT INDIVIDUAL CASES AS WE ARE NOT TAX PROFESSIONALS.
General Tax Information
If you received any U.S. income during the year, you are required to file federal and state tax “returns” and pay any required taxes by the May deadline. Please note that salary from a job is not the only kind of earnings that are taxed. Many types of income are taxable.
While employers withhold money from your paycheck throughout the year and send it to the IRS, it may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was withheld, you may be eligible for a refund. If not enough was withheld, you will owe money. If you believe you paid any taxes in error, filing a U.S. and Kentucky State tax return is the only way to receive a refund.
If you had no U.S. income the previous year and are still in the U.S., you must complete form 8843.
A tax service provider will help you complete form 1040NR or 1040NREZ and the 8843.
For students and scholars that did work in the US during 2020, you will need to complete the form 8843, federal and state income tax documents and send them to the government. You can receive assistance with these filings three ways:
- You can access Sprintax to be able to complete the federal tax forms online. There is a cost for this online service as follows:
- Form 8843 by itself: $14.95
- Federal Return (includes 8843): $37.95
- State return: $29.95 per state return
- The Sprintax Tax preparation company has set up webinars to assist you in preparing your income tax filing. The webinars are free. For more information, click the Free Tax Assistance Webinars folder below.
- Another website that offers assistance with tax filing is found here.
You can access Sprintax by clicking here!
Some good information for international students and scholars regarding Federal income tax rules is available here!
We hope this is helpful information. We provide this information because our office is not able to give advice on income tax matters.
The Sprintax Tax preparation company has set up webinars to assist you in preparing your income tax filing. The webinars are free. If you have the Sprintax company prepare your tax forms, they will charge you a fee. But the seminars might provide you with enough information to correctly file the forms yourself. These sessions will be held on: Monday Mar 1st, 12pm CT; Tuesday, Mar 16th, 1:30pm CT; Tuesday, Mar 30th, 2pm CT; Wednesday, Apr 7th, 11:30am CT; Wednesday, Apr 14th, 1pm CT. Please click a date and follow the link to register if you are interested.
The informational webinars will cover the same topics on each occasion:
- An overview of tax for nonresident students and scholars
- Who must file a 2020 US tax return
- What income forms students/scholars may receive
- Forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS
- We cover terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T
- What happens if students don’t file, or misfile
- State tax returns
- IRS stimulus payments
You cannot complete your tax forms until you have received a report of your income from the previous year. This is generally reported on form W-2 or 1042-S. You may receive one or both of these forms. If you received additional income—say as an independent contractor—you may receive a 1099MISC.
If you receive a form 1098-T or a form 1095, these are not needed if you are a non-resident for tax purposes.
The U.S. has income tax treaties with many different countries. Residents of these countries may be taxed at a reduced rate or be exempt from U.S. income tax withholding on specific kinds of U.S.-source income. Treaties vary among countries. If the treaty does not cover a particular kind of income, or if there is no treaty between your country and the U.S., you must pay tax on the income in the same way and at the same rates shown in the instructions for Form 1040NR. A tax service provider will tell you if you may claim tax treaty benefits.
Per the most recent IRS guidance, eligibility is limited to (1) US citizens, (2) Permanent Residents and (3) those who are residents
for US tax purposes AND who have a social security card valid for employment.
"You were not eligible for the first payment if any of the following apply to you:
- You were claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's return (for example, a child or student who may be claimed on a parent's return or a dependent parent who may be claimed on an adult child's return).
- You are a nonresident alien.
- You do not have a Social Security number that is valid for employment."
Note: Although this references the first payment. Round two eligibility:
"You are not eligible for a payment if any of the following apply to you:
- You were claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's 2019 tax return (for example, a child or student who may be claimed on a parent's tax return or a dependent parent who may be claimed on an adult child's tax return).
- You don't have an SSN that is valid for employment issued before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including any extensions).
- You're a nonresident alien.
- Someone was deceased before 2020.
- Are an estate or trust."
There has not been an easing of eligibility.
Those who are nonresidents for US tax purposes who have received any of the payments should return the payment by following the steps outlined in the IRS guidance. The guidance has not been updated to reflect round 3. This is most likely due to the fact that there have been no new methods of payment. Step 1 addresses payments by direct deposit or check and step 2 addresses debit cards. They should also verify that they correctly filed the 1040NR for 2019. If they were a resident for tax purposes in 2019 and became a nonresident in 2020, they were not eligible and need to return the payment. If the 2019 tax return was incorrectly filed as a resident return and should have been a nonresident one (1040NR), they need to amend and submit the return.
Sprintax and Glacier Tax Prep can process amended returns.
The full IRS EIP FAQ may be accessed here.
WARNING - Fake phone calls about immigration forms or taxes
The International Student Office would like to warn you about phone calls from criminals pretending to be from U.S. government agencies such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), or the Kentucky Department of Treasury.
The caller may ask for personal information and may even try to threaten you by saying that the police (or other agencies) will arrest you for not filling out a form or not paying your taxes. The calls may be "robo-calls" making "urgent" callback requests. Also, criminals sometimes use “spoofing services” to choose the number or name that shows up on your phone, so the call may appear to come from a government agency, but it actually does not.
Please be careful! Criminals have stolen students' money this way. These calls are fake or “scam” calls.
USCIS will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone. If the IRS or the Kentucky Treasury Department believes that you owe taxes or if they have questions about your tax forms, they will write you a letter. If you receive a call like this, just hang up. Also, U.S. government agencies will never ask for payment with iTunes cards.
If you receive a call like this and are not sure what to do: Call the International Student Office or the WKU Police Department (270) 745-2548. The WKU Police Department is always open so if you get a call like this at night or over the weekend you can always call them for advice. Call for advice BEFORE sending money.
For more information about these calls and about what to do;
- The U.S. Government has also prepared information for students (but it is useful for everyone) to help you avoid these scams: Important Message to Students: Protect Yourself from Scams
- The IRS has also prepared information:
- Phone Scams Continue to be a Serious Threat, Remain on IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season
Social Security Numbers
In the U.S, a Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens and eligible non-citizens. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes. You can apply for a SSN only with a job offer and an employer cannot pay you until you provide them with your SSN. According to the Social Security Administration, your job offer for on-campus employment must be authorized by a Designated School Official and the Department of Homeland Security in order to apply for a Social Security number.