International Students & Taxes

All International students are expected to file statements with the U.S. federal government regarding their tax statuses every year they are students of institutions of higher education in the United States.

Non-immigrant students on a J-1 or F-1 visa must file Federal tax returns if they earn money in the United States. International students are liable for Federal and State taxes, but not for Social Security (FICA) taxes, unless they are considered to be “residents for tax purposes” by the IRS (usually if they’ve lived in the U.S. for 5 calendar years or more). FICA taxes should not be withheld from international student pay.

If FICA taxes are being withheld, notify the Business Office to stop such withholding. Some money, however, must be withheld from your paycheck to cover possible Federal and State tax obligations that you might have. Even though money will be withheld from your pay, you may still be exempt from taxes and get back some or all of the money withheld.

In some cases students may be covered by a tax treaty between the United States and their countries and therefore they are exempt from paying U.S. taxes.

It is your responsibility to file your taxes and Federal Form 8843. The Global Education Office does not prepare U.S. income tax forms; however, there is usually free tax help available in Chestertown. Our office will make every effort to alert you to tax counseling in the local area.

To obtain detailed information about Federal tax regulations, you can check the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) web site:

If you have problems completing your Federal Form 8843, you may call the toll free number 800-829-1040 to ask for help.

Federal Income Tax:
  • ALL INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS must file Form 8843 — even if they are not working
  • If you are working and Social Security taxes were withheld from your paycheck, you will need to file Form 1040NR plus Form 8843
  • The deadline to file your taxes is April 15

More information is available for international students who have complicated federal tax reporting requirements.

If you did not file taxes/Form 8843 for previous years, please call 1-800-829-1040 to request forms from past years. You may also access tax forms and instructions at and search for forms by number at “Forms and Publications.”

Maryland State Tax:

If you did not earn income in Maryland, you do not have to file any forms. If you did, most online tax programs such as Glacier Tax Prep and Sprintax will complete your state tax return along with your federal forms. If you choose to complete your state tax return individually, you can submit it electronically on Maryland’s free iFile online system. Students wishing to file on paper should use the individual resident income tax Form 502.

Please note: while the U.S. government considers international students to be non-residents, Maryland state government considers them to residents

Tax Preparation Assistance:

There are online tax programs for non-residents available to help you with your tax returns.   

For Tax Year 2019, Sprintax is offering a $5.00 US discount to the first twenty (20) international students to register and complete their federal taxes (Use code Spx2019WASHCOLL21F5 to earn discount). Sprintax also offers video tutorials in more than one language.

If you need additional help, please contact a tax professional. Ask to speak with a certified public accountant (CPA). Do not go to a “tax preparer” who is not a CPA. The Global Education Office is not legally allowed to assist you with your taxes.

Local tax professionals:

Do not go to HR Block.  They are trained to help U.S. Citizens and permanent residents with their taxes.  As a non-resident, you have a different tax form than U.S. Citizens and permanent residents. 

If you use a tax service you should bring the following materials to your appointment:
  • Form 8843
  • pencil, pen
  • passport
  • I-20
  • I-94 or DS-2019
  • Social Security Number
Fees & Mailing Instructions

There are fees for most online tax preparation software. Getting assistance from a local tax professional will also cost money. You can call to make an appointment and ask for rates. You should only need a tax professional if there is an issue with your taxes. Most students should be able to complete the forms themselves or with the help of the tax software.

You are responsible for completing and mailing the tax forms. Please read the instructions and mail the tax forms to the location listed on the instructions.