Main Content

Non-immigrant Taxes


2020 Tax Filing Deadline: April 15, 2021

(Tax forms must be postmarked in the mail by this date!)

General Information

As in most countries, the tax laws in the United States are very complex. The resources on this page and any subsequent pages should help you to better understand your tax obligation, to know what and where to research, and to successfully submit your tax forms. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. government agency that collects taxes. For the official regulations regarding all aspects of U.S. taxes for international students and scholars, please go to this link: IRS Student and Scholar Tax Information. Listed below are some important points to remember. This information is meant to be a general introduction and should not be considered legal tax advice.

  • As an F-1, J-1 Student or J-1 Scholar, U.S. laws require you to file forms each year with the IRS, even if you earned no income. The specific forms you file will depend on many factors including, but not limited to: your visa status, the purpose of your visit, the number of days you were present in the United States, the amount of income you earned, and if there is a tax treaty between your home country and the U.S.
  • An estimate of your U.S. tax responsibility is withheld from your paycheck or scholarship at the time of payment and sent to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) throughout the year.
  • This withholding may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was withheld, you may be eligible for a refund. If not enough was withheld, you may owe more to the U.S. government. A social security number or ITIN number (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is required to file for a refund.
  • Between January and March each year, your employer will issue tax forms with a summary of your income and withholding from the previous year. You will use these reports to complete the tax forms in late March and early April. Tax refunds can be deposited directly into your U.S. bank account as early as 4 weeks later.
  • Students and scholars who are considered “non-resident aliens” cannot use traditional, online tax preparation software (such as turbo tax and others). The OISVS offers limited licenses to tax preparation software specifically designed for non-resident aliens and will announce the access information in mid to late March.
  • It is your responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Taxable Income?
Some sources of income are taxed, while others are not. Generally, income from foreign sources is not taxed as long as you are classified as a non-resident (see more on this below).  Sources of taxable income may include:

  • Wages that appear on form W-2
  • Scholarship or fellowship income that requires services (i.e. teaching assistant, athletic scholarships)
  • Scholarships, fellowships, and grants
  • Investment income
  • Gambling income
  • Money used for other expenses, like room, board, and travel
  • Refer to the 1040NR instructions (for the specific year)

I didn’t have any taxable income or scholarships for the previous year.  Do I need to file?
If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, yes. If you were present in the U.S. during the previous calendar year, you must file IRS form 8843. It is a simple form, available in the OISVS, and can only be submitted in paper form via mail. Students with no earned income only filing the 8843 have a June 17th deadline.

Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?
If you were employed or paid by ACU, you will need a social security number. Students not employed who have taxable scholarships should apply for the ITIN.

What is an ITIN?
An ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. You would only need this if you do not have and do not qualify for a Social Security Number, and you received a scholarship/fellowship in the U.S. (in 2016 – remove). See Lucy Dawson in the OISVS if you do not qualify for a social security number and need to apply for an ITIN.

What if I only have a Social Security Number but not an ITIN?
You will have one or the other but not both. If you have submitted tax forms previously using an ITIN but now you have a social security number, you should use the social security number.

What is Glacier Tax Prep (GTP)?
GLACIER Tax Prep is a tax return preparation software program designed primarily for nonresident alien students, scholars, trainees, researchers, and other educational immigration statuses to prepare their U.S. federal income tax return Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ.

Nonresidents should not use software designed for resident tax forms (one example is TurboTax, but there are many others).  Your forms will not be correct and you will then have to submit an amended tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Can I use GTP software to help me complete my taxes?
If you are a “nonresident” for tax purposes, you may be able to use this software offered through the OISVS to assist you in completing your tax forms.  Remember – GTP does not file the forms for you.  After completion, you will need to mail them in to the IRS.

IRS Publication 4011 can assist students determine their tax status. Check out the decision tree here.

If the result is that you are a nonresident for U.S. tax purposes, you can use GTP to prepare your taxes.  The OISVS purchases a limited number of licenses for enrolled ACU international students, and distributes these in March each year.  Students unable to use a free license may purchase their own license using the link listed below.

The OISVS organizes several tax workshops each year.  Check the OISVS calendar for the upcoming dates.  Students with no taxable income still need to fill out the 8843, which does not require the use of GTP tax prep.

If you are a resident for tax purposes, you cannot use GTP. You may be able use free tax preparation software listed on the IRS web site. Other options include purchasing commercial tax software or hiring a private tax accountant. Two examples of the many such products available are Turbotax or H&R Block At Home™.

What additional resources are there to help me?

What if I can’t file my taxes by the deadline?
If you owe taxes, there may be penalties assessed if you do not file your tax return or file it late. These penalties are assessed each month, so we encourage you to file on time or as soon as possible after the deadline. Check out this IRS resource for more information.

This information is intended only for international students and scholars who are non-resident alien taxpayers with income sources and level typical of students and scholars at Abilene Christian University. Although the information contained in this site has been reviewed carefully and should be adequate to assist most international students and scholars, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a qualified tax accountant. If your visa status has changed in the past year, or you believe you have a complicated tax issue, please consult the IRS or a qualified tax accountant.