All international students and scholars are required to report to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year — even if they did not work during the prior year. You will not necessarily need to pay taxes; but reporting your presence in the US is a legal requirement.
Although the OGS cannot advise on tax issues, we hope to give you basic information here as a helpful starting point. Please note, this information is not tax advice but rather it is meant to help you in completing your tax filing obligations as an international student or scholar. For further tax guidance, we recommend you consult with a professional tax service (free or fee-based). Resources on these services are listed below.
Who Needs to File Tax Reports
If you were present in the US even for 1 day during 2019, then you have tax filing obligations.
Consequences of Not Filing Your Tax Forms
Penalties for not complying with the filing requirement can include but are not limited to:
- Denials of future requests for a Change of Status (especially to Permanent Resident)
- Denials of visa renewals at American Consulates/Embassies
- Fines and interest will accrue on unreported income and could result in more money being owed to the IRS in the future
- If filed more than 3 years late, a refund will not be remitted by the IRS to the taxpayer
If you don't file your tax forms with the IRS by the tax deadline, or need to correct a mistake, you may be able to submit an amended tax return or mail the necessary tax documents even after the deadline date. Consult with a tax professional for assistance if you need to adjust a previously filed tax return.
When to File
The deadline has been extended to July 15 if you earned US income in 2019. The earliest we recommend you file your taxes is mid-February. If you are unable to file your forms by the deadline, you must submit an application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Your Tax Return to the IRS.
The deadline is June 15 if you were present in the US in 2019 but did not earn any US income.
How to File
1. Gather the following documents
You may not have or need some of these; this is a list of all documents you might need:
- Passport, Visa, I-94 record
- Exit and Entry Dates for all past US visits
- I-20, DS-2019, I-797, or other immigration documents
- Social Security Number (if you don't have one, you will need an Individual Tax Identification Number, which can be obtained through GLACIER Tax Prep; see step 2)
- Current US Address AND Permanent Foreign Address
- Name of Educational Institution or Sponsoring Organization
- All relevant tax form(s) for taxable purposes:
- Form(s) W-2, 1042-S, 1099
- Scholarship or Fellowship grant letters (if no related Form 1042-S)
- Copy of past year’s tax forms (if you had any)
2. Use GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) to file your federal tax return
GTP will help you easily fulfill your tax obligations by asking you a series of questions and filling in all necessary forms for you. It will also inform you of any tax benefits that may apply to you.
1. Get access to GTP by logging in with your NYU net ID and password. GTP is available free of charge to NYU students and scholars.
If you're using GTP for the first time
You will need to create a user ID and a password with your NYU email address by first logging in with your NYU Net ID and password. Once you log into GTP follow the instructions in each step. If your NYU Net ID is not active, first visit https://start.nyu.edu. If you are having difficulty accessing GTP, visit our Tax FAQ for instructions.
If you've used Glacier or GTP before (including students working on campus and those with NYU scholarships and fellowships)
If you were employed at NYU or received an NYU scholarship or fellowship you may have already logged into Glacier. GTP would populate the information from Glacier to expedite the process. Log in using the user ID and password you created when you first started an account on Glacier. If you have forgotten your user ID or password click on Forgot ID to reset your user ID or password.
2. Print the forms GTP generates. Review, sign and mail them no later than April 15 to the address given by GTP. We suggest mailing using "Certified Mail". Please note, you cannot electronically file (E-file) your tax forms if you are considered a non-resident for US tax purposes.
3. If you had US income during 2019, you may need to file a state tax return
State taxes may have different residency guidelines than US taxes. For a fee, you can use Sprintax to file your state taxes. There are two easy ways to access Sprintax:
- Use GTP and follow the internal link there for Sprintax; or
- Go directly to Sprintax. In either case, use your @nyu.edu email address to get a special discounted rate. Stern and Law School students must use their @nyu.edu email address for the discounted rate as the system will not recognize your @stern.nyu.edu or @law.nyu.edu email address.
You may need to file for every state you lived and/or worked in for 2019. Remember, you cannot electronically file (E-file) your tax return if you're using Sprintax and filing as a nonresident for US tax purposes.
NEW YORK STATE and CITY TAX
You must file a NY Tax Return if:
- You are a NY resident and you filed a US tax form (other than Form 8843) for 2019; or
- You had NY income greater than $4,000 in 2019; or
- You want a refund of NY State or City taxes withheld from your paycheck in excess of what you actually owed.
Are you a resident or non-resident?
- Each individual must confirm their own NY tax status, but, in general, if you lived and/or worked in New York:
- Full-time undergraduate international students are considered NON-RESIDENTS of NY state and city for tax purposes, and should file NY nonresident tax form IT-203
- Other international visitors, including part-time students, J-1 professors and scholars, and individuals in H-4 status are considered NY RESIDENTS for state and city tax purposes; if they both:
- 1) had a place to stay in NY for at least 11 months; and
- 2) were physically in NY for at least 6 months of the year. NY Residents should file NY resident tax form IT-201.
NEW JERSEY STATE TAX
- International students, professors and scholars are considered non-residents for NJ state tax purposes unless they had a “permanent home” in NJ.
- Make sure to confirm your own tax residency to determine your tax filing status NJ state.
- Use the appropriate NJ tax form:
4. Be Aware of Tax Scams and Fraud
Each year, scammers claiming to be IRS or other government employees ask students and scholars for money that is "owed" to avoid any so-called tax penalties or fees. Please be aware and cautious of such calls, emails, letters or unusual contacts. These scammers might even say that they will call the police if you hang up or you will get deported if you do not comply with their requests. Review our Tips to Avoid Scams and Fraud to protect yourself.
- IRS Tax Assistance Center (TAC): Making an appointment is necessary. Many federal tax questions can be answered by an IRS professional. If your ITIN application is rejected, please see an OGS advisor before going to the IRS TAC.
- Turbotax: Online software for resident tax filers to prepare their federal and state tax returns. The free edition is best for individuals with simple returns and minimal deductions. The paid editions would help with more complicated tax situations. (Nonresident filers will be directed to Sprintax).
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): IRS-certified volunteers offer free basic tax filing assistance for nonresident and resident tax filers. NYU Stern's Accounting Fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, is a VITA site located at NYU's Stern School of Business and assists resident tax filers.
The United States has over 50 tax treaties with different countries. The treaties vary in terms of the benefits they offer to students, the types of income covered, the total amount of the exemption, and the number of years you could claim the benefit. If you file your tax forms with a suitable tax software, the software will automatically factor in any benefit offered through a tax treaty with your country.
For more information on tax treaties, including a list of the countries that the United States has tax treaties with, see IRS Publication 901, US Tax Treaties. Note that tax treaties vary in their implications for state taxes.