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Finance & Taxes
for International Students

Taxes and 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 filling these forms, refer to SDSU Audit and Tax information.

Payment deadlines

  • If you earn money while you are a student in the U.S., the tax deadline is April 15. Learn more about paying employment taxes.
  • If you have not earned money in the U.S., the deadline to file tax forms is June 15.

ISC Tax Workshop

Each spring semester during tax season (before April 1), 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 federal non-resident tax workshop at the ISC and individual tax meetings with volunteers.

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
      • Publication 519: U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
      • Publication 520: Scholarships and Fellowships
      • Publication 901: U.S. Tax Treaties
    • Tax assistance businesses can prepare your taxes for you and help you apply for a refund if you are eligible. One fee-based business is Tax Back International.
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