Tax and Social Security
Required Filing of Income Tax
Filing your Federal and State income taxes is an important process to complete as you prepare to study in the United States. If you have lived in the USA the previous year and you have an F or a J visa, you will have to fill out form 8843. You have to fill in this form even if you have NOT worked in the USA in the current year. If you have lived and worked in the USA you will need to complete the Federal forms (1040 NR and 8843) and a New York State tax form (IT-203). You can obtain these forms online and submit them online, or you can have a commercial tax preparer complete your forms for you for a fee.
Who needs to file an income tax return?
If you are visiting the U.S. from another country on an F, J, M or Q visa and you are classified as a nonresident for U.S. tax purposes, you are required to file an income tax return each year that you have income subject to U.S. income tax. If you did not earn any income, you must file IRS Form 8843. Form 8843 must also be filed for every family member who is in the U.S. on an F-2 or J-2 visa.
I only arrived in the U.S. in December of the current year and I didn't work. Do I still have to file IRS Form 8843?
Yes. If you were in the U.S. only for one day in the current year, you must file IRS Form 8843.
I'm an F-1 or J-1 student and I had no U.S.-source income or scholarships for this year. Do I need to file an income tax return?
Although you don't have to file an income tax return, you must file IRS Form 8843. Dependent spouses in F-2 and J-2 status must also file Form 8843.
I only worked for a very short time in this year and I didn't earn very much money. Do I still have to file an income tax return?
Yes. If you have any U.S.-source income, including scholarship/fellowship grants, you must file IRS Form 1040NR-EZ (or 1040NR) and IRS Form 8843.
I was in the U.S. for only a few months this year and did not work or receive a scholarship/fellowship grant. I have since returned to my country. Do I still have to file IRS Form 8843?
If you were in the U.S. on an F or J visa, you must file IRS Form 8843 for each year that you were in the U.S.
What happens if I fail to file an income tax return?
If you owe taxes and don't file an income tax return, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can charge you penalty and interest. Fines and penalties can often amount to more than the original tax debt. There can also be immigration consequences for failing to file an income tax return. Applicants for permanent residency ("green card") are frequently asked to provide proof of tax filing for previous years in the U.S.
Commercial Tax Return Preparation:
To do your taxes yourself:
From this IRS (Internal Revenue Service) Web site, download Federal forms 1040 NR and the 8843. For general questions, call 1-800-829-1040 (toll free). If you are out of the USA, the best source of assistance for international tax filing questions is the IRS International Customer Service at 215-516-2000 (toll number).
Visit the New York State tax Web site and download the IT-203 form
Social Security Number
Please note: This handout provides general information on the Social Security Number. When you check in at the Office of International Programs, Miller, Room 16 an advisor will provide you with more specific information on the Social Security Number application process and location.
What is a Social Security Number?
Do I need an SSN?
Am I eligible for an SSN?
If you hold F-1 visa status, you are eligible to apply for an SSN if you meet at least one of the following criteria, and can provide proof of employment (see INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISOR for details).
If you hold any other visa status, please consult with an INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISOR adviser or the Social Security Administration about your eligibility to apply for an SSN.
How do I apply?
2. After you have been in the U.S. for AT LEAST 10 days, take the documents listed below to the Cortland County Office Building on 60 Central Avenue, Cortland. This office is open on Thursdays ONLY from 9 am - 12:00 pm and your INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISOR must notify the office ahead of time to let them know that you are coming. (When you come to the INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISOR for your certification letter, the INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISOR adviser on duty will provide you with directions to this office.)
3. You will receive your number and card in 4-8 weeks. Once you receive your card, please take it to the Registrar's Office at Miller Building, Room 223, to update your SSN in the university information system and inform the administrator in the department that is employing you.
Not eligible for a SSN?
What if I am not eligible for an SSN?
New York State Driver's License
When opening up a checking account, you can apply for a check card. This VISA or MASTERCARD check card can be used to make purchases. The amount of your purchase is debited, directly from the checking account.
A credit card is available by applying for a Secure Credit Card (minimum is between $500 and $1000). The funds have to be in an account at the bank. This is necessary because there is no credit history or SSN to do a credit history report. The advantage to the Secure Credit Card is that it helps to establish credit. Several local banks, including CFCU and Tompkins Trust Company, have the secure credit card. M&T bank does not have this service.
A Note on Taxes
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
· 1 (800) 772-1213 (Automated Customer Service)Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (except for Federal holidays.)