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INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER

Finance & Taxes
for International Students

Taxes and International Students

The International Student Center cannot give students specific tax advice since our advisors are not licensed tax professionals. It is your responsibility to file the appropriate tax documents by the deadline. Since tax regulations can be complicated, you should only use tax professionals who have training in international student/non-resident regulations to help file your taxes correctly. 

Below is some general tax guidance for international students. 

You must file tax forms

All F-1 and J-1 students must file federal tax forms every year they are in the U.S. even if they do not earn any money in the U.S.

  • Social Security tax (FICA): International students in F-1 and J-1 status are exempt from Social Security tax (FICA). However, they are generally subject to federal and state income taxes.

Do not claim exemption

Students often mistakenly claim "exempt" on tax forms, only to find they must pay a large sum of tax on April 15. For more information on which tax forms to complete, review the Tax Presentation by Douglas Kelley below. 

Filing deadlines

  • If you earned money or received a taxable scholarship/fellowship/grant in the U.S. in 2018, the tax deadline is April 15, 2019. Learn more about paying employment taxes.
  • If you did not earn money or receive a taxable scholarship/fellowship/grant in the U.S. in 2018, the deadline to file Tax Form 8843 is June 15, 2019. To find out how to complete this form, review the Tax Presentation by Douglas Kelley below.

ISC Tax Information Session & VITA program

Each spring semester during tax season, the ISC partners with College of Business Administration and their VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program to provide tax services to international students. Services include a Tax Information Session at the ISC and individual tax meetings with volunteers.

  • See the ISC calendar at the beginning of the Spring semester for the Information Session date.
  • Learn more about the VITA tax prepration program and schedule an appointment for your taxes. (Appointment scheduling available toward the end of January, and appointments go quickly.)
  • Review the Tax Presentation given by Douglas Kelley from the SDSU Lamden School of Accountancy (PDF; download Adobe Acrobat Reader, if needed). 

Other resources

  • State taxes: California state tax forms and information are available on the California Franchise Tax Board website.
  • Federal taxes: Federal forms and information are available on the Internal Revenue Service website.
    • You can also have your tax questions answered on the IRS International Tax Law hotline, (215) 516-2000 (press 2, then press 3). This is not a toll-free number.
    • The following federal tax publications are of special interest to international students and available at www.irs.gov:
      • Publication 519: U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
      • Publication 520: Scholarships and Fellowships
      • Publication 901: U.S. Tax Treaties
  • Certain tax preparation companies and online services can prepare your taxes for you and help you apply for a refund if you are eligible. Some of the best known tax preparation companies are not intended for international students/non-resident taxes, so be sure to ask the company in advance. If they are not trained in non-resident taxes, your taxes may be filed incorrectly. One fee-based company that specializes in international student tax preparation is Sprintax
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CENTER
 Tel: (619) 594-1982  |  Fax: 619-594-1973  |  Email: isc.reception@sdsu.edu