Taxes

Taxes

It is tax season! Every year, all people living in the United States must file taxes. We call this season "tax season" because the government allows from January 1 to April 15 to file taxes. There are penalties for filing late, so make sure to read the following information very carefully.

Announcement

This year the beginning of tax season has been delayed and will begin on February 12, 2021.

All people who have lived in the U.S. in the past year are required by law to report tax information to the U.S. government. This reporting process is commonly known as “filing taxes.”

All international students and scholars must submit a form to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if you had no income!

If you did pay taxes on money you earned, these are only estimated amounts. Usually your employer over-estimates the amount of tax you will owe. In these cases, you may end up receiving money back from the government.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. agency responsible for the collection of income tax. Most people need to pay federal income tax and state income tax. There may be a tax treaty between your country and the U.S. The treaty may exempt your income from taxation, but does not exclude you from being required to file taxes. Learn about tax treaties.

Your employer(s) will send you a W-2 form, showing the amount of money you have earned and the amount of tax withheld. The W-2 form is used in the preparation of your tax return. You may also receive other forms related to tax issues like health insurance (Form 1095-A), taxable investments or independent contract income (Form 1099), and others.

In addition to federal income tax you may be subject to state income tax. For most people who work for the University, you will be subject to State of Delaware income tax. If you reside in a state other than Delaware, you may be subject to income tax in your state of residence.

Please understand that the CGPS staff members are not tax specialists and cannot provide tax advice.

Generally you will be directed to file federal and state taxes, since both the federal and state governments' estimated taxes are withheld from your paycheck. In some states, like Pennsylvania, you also must file local taxes with your town or borough.

Tax Preparation Assistance

The University of Delaware has arranged free access to Sprintax Tax Preparation, which will guide you through the tax preparation process, prepare the necessary documents and even check if you are due a refund. Use code SpR20UOD1001F to access the service at no charge.

Full instructions can be found here. For more details on this tax service, watch these videos, check your UD email and contact CGPS at oissprograms@udel.edu or (302) 831-2115 with any questions or concerns.

Federal Tax Information

State Tax Information

  • Delaware – Personal Income Tax Forms
  • Maryland – Tax Information for Individual Taxpayers
  • Pennsylvania – Personal income tax information

 

CGPS suggests that you start with Sprintax Tax Preparation. If you are determined to be a resident for tax purposes, they will direct you to a resident tax service.

In the U.S. there are many private companies that provide tax filing services for a fee. Some of these companies provide online services only. Others have locations in or around Newark where you can meet with a tax preparer. Please note that none of these companies are endorsed by CGPS.

 

Tax Preparation Companies with Offices in Newark

  • H&R Block – Local office can help with 1040NR filings for non-residents

  • Jackson Hewitt – Local office can help with 1040NR filings for non-residents

 

Other Online Based Services

  • Tax Act – Can help with 1040NR filings for non-residents and Form 8843 for exempt individuals

  • Turbo Tax – Only for resident tax filing, DOES NOT help prepare 1040NR non-resident forms

  • The IRS website provides E-filing if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than $60,000

 

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

VITA offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 per year or less, people with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. While there are no VITA offices in Newark, please visit their website for other office locations.

Please note that filing federal income tax forms is the personal responsibility of each international student and scholar. ISS advisors and other staff members are not tax experts. We can refer you to relevant resources but cannot help prepare tax documents or answer tax-related questions. Please be aware that you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your income tax returns.

It has been brought to the attention of CGPS that some international students and scholars have been targets of phone and email scams, where people claim to be officials from the U.S. government, IRS, and other agencies in order to gain access to personal and financial information for harmful purposes. Read about scams CGPS is aware of and how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

Please be aware that when necessary, the U.S. government will contact you in writing by regular mail. They will NEVER ask you to disclose your SSN/ITIN, personal identification and financial information by email or phone. 

“Phishing” is the act of committing fraud by tricking people into sharing their financial information online by posing as a legitimate company. You should be suspicious of any organization requesting your personal or financial information online via email or phone. The links below are very helpful to help explain phishing scams and how you can avoid them. If you are unsure about an email, phone call, letter, or other correspondence you receive, you should not reply. Please contact CGPS if you have concerns.


Information on tax phishing scams
Reporting immigration scams
How to recognize a government imposter

CARES Act

The CARES Act or Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was passed into law in March 2020 and allocated funding to support individuals and groups impacted by COVID-19. There were two stimulus payments to individuals included in the CARES Act, one for $1,200 in spring 2020 and one for $600 in January 2021. As an international student or scholar you will need to take extra steps outlined below in order to determine your eligibility to accept a stimulus payment from the CARES Act.

Our partner Sprintax has provided this Guide for Nonresidents About the Second COVID Stimulus Payment.

More information is below regarding eligibility for the stimulus payment, key areas of confusion, misfiling as a resident by mistake, recommended next steps and potential future implications.

In order to qualify for CARES Act stimulus payments you must meet the following requirements:

  • U.S. Residents for tax purposes
  • Adjusted Gross Income between $75,000 and $99,000 (increasing for head of household and married filing jointly)
  • Valid social security number
  • Not claimed as dependent on someone else’s return

Note: Based on IRS Substantial Presence Rule – Most international students and scholars in the US are nonresidents in the US for tax purposes, a small number may be here long enough to be considered tax residents by IRS.

Complete the Substantial Presence Test for free with Sprintax. The substantial presence test is the first step after creating your account in Sprintax. Find details above about how to access the service at no charge.

If you previously filed as a resident and Sprintax confirms you are a resident – no further action is required at this moment, and you may request your stimulus check if you meet the other requirements above.

HOWEVER – If Sprintax finds that you are a nonresident then you should have filed as a nonresident – you need to prepare and send an amended tax return (1040X) to the IRS to correct this.

Sprintax will help you prepare your amended return, for any year:

  • We recommend you do this as quickly as possible.
  • Once you have your Sprintax amended return, mail this to the IRS.
  • Separate to your amended return – return the stimulus payment. The IRS provides instructions here.

     

    Note about future possible implications:

  • Filing an incorrect tax return may cause fees and penalties to accrue with the IRS.
  • Incorrect tax filing may also impact a change of visa status or a future visa application – so please ensure now that you have prepared your taxes correctly for 2020 and previous years.

Confirm your eligibility to accept payment:

  • Check your tax return from 2018 or 2019 to see if it was 1040 (for residents), 1040NR (for nonresidents), or Federal 8843.
  • If it was a 1040NR or 8843 you filed as a nonresident and are not eligible for CARES Act stimulus check.
  • If you filed a form 1040 as a resident for tax purposes in 2019, please login to Sprintax to complete the substantial presence test and confirm that you filed correctly.

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ISSS Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided as a service to international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators at the University of Delaware, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of official counsel. For assistance on your immigration status, we encourage you to contact an ISS advisor for specific guidance at oiss@udel.edu.