Income Tax Filing Compliance

PLEASE NOTE: The guidelines provided on this page are not a substitute for the advice of a trained tax preparer. Students are encouraged to consult with an expert (usually a CPA or enrolled agent) if they have any questions about their personal tax filing obligations.  Students in the following categories often find it particularly helpful to hire the help of an expert:
students with U.S. source income from states other than Ohio
students with U.S. source income in excess of $10,000
students with self-employment or 'gigging' income of any amount, but particularly if the amount is greater that $2,000The U.S. income tax filing requirement is based upon your total U.S. source income for the current tax year.  The current tax year is 2012; the forms you will file in April 2013 are to report income received between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman

Benjamin Franklin’s maxim remains true today, and applies to international students, too: you certainly need to file your taxes! We provide this page to help ensure that you stay in good standing with the federal office of the Internal Revenue Service and the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Note: the information provided on this webpage is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified tax professional. The staff of Oberlin College cannot prepare your taxes for you or answer specific questions about your tax obligations. We encourage you to contact an expert tax preparer if you have particular questions about your tax-filing responsibility. Local tax professionals can be found in the phone book or by using online search tools.

Tax documents refer to F-1 international students as “non-residents,” and we use that term below.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need to file taxes?
  2. Which tax forms do I need to file?
  3. When is my tax return due?
  4. What documents do I need to file my taxes?
  5. How do I file my taxes?
  6. What are Glacier Tax Prep and Sprintax?
  7. What if I need help?
  8. What if I want someone to prepare my taxes for me?
  9. What if someone from the IRS reaches me by phone to ask for payment immediately?

 

  1. Do I need to file taxes?

Yes. All non-residents must file one or more tax forms every year they are present in the United States.

  1. Which tax forms do I need to file?

All non-residents need to file form 8843, which is available through Glacier Tax Prep (see sidebar).

All non-residents at the college who earned U.S. source income in the previous calendar year (January 1 to December 31) need to file one or more of the following forms:

  • Federal 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (available through Glacier Tax Prep);
  • Ohio IT 1040 or IT 1040EZ (available through Sprintax);
  • Ohio SD 100 (available through Sprintax); and
  • Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) form 37 (exemption—see sidebar).

The forms 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ (federal) and forms IT 1040 and IT 1040EZ (state) are for non-residents who earned income in the previous calendar year. The Internal Revenue Service provides information for non-residents here. If you earned income in a different state in the previous calendar year, be certain to check the filing requirements for that state.

Even if your employer deducted taxes from your paycheck, you must file an income tax return. You may owe additional taxes or be eligible for a refund.

  1. When is my tax return due?

Federal tax forms and Ohio state tax forms must be postmarked no later than April 18, 2017.

  1. What documents do I need to file my taxes?

You will need some or all of the documents noted below pertaining to your visa and your legal status in the United States. The visa-related documents include your passport and your I-20. The other documents may include your W-2 or 1042-S (available via PRESTO), your social security number, your recent I-94(s), your financial award letter, and last year’s federal income tax return (if you filed your taxes). In the event that you worked as an independent contractor (e.g., paid employment as a church organist), you might have received form 1099 from that employer.

If you earned taxable U.S. income in the previous year, you should receive documents in January or February that report the amount and type of income you earned. Documents you may receive include form W-2, 1042-S, and 1099. These documents often arrive in an envelope marked "important tax document." Save them!

Oberlin College forms W-2 and 1042-S are available by January 31, 2017. If you are a student employee, look for your W-2 form on PRESTO and in your OCMR box. All international students: look for Form 1042-S in your OCMR box, but not on PRESTO. Once again: the college sends you a W-2 form to indicate your income from your on-campus employment. The 1042-S is used to report taxable scholarship income. Not all scholarship income is taxable. For questions about your W-2, contact Colleen Czajka, colleen.czajka@oberlin.edu. For questions about your 1042-S, contact Kim Wiggerly, kwiggerl@oberlin.edu.

  1. How do I file my taxes?

In previous years, students have found it quite helpful to use Glacier Tax Prep to complete their federal tax forms and Sprintax to complete their state forms. These web-based applications allow you to enter the necessary information, print and sign completed forms, and submit them via US mail by the April 18, 2017, deadline.

We have been advised that non-residents are exempt from taxes by the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA). Still, we recommend that you file a RITA form 37 exemption in order to avoid receiving a tax notice from RITA. That form can be downloaded from the links on the left side of the page.

  1. What are Glacier Tax Prep and Sprintax?

GLACIER Tax Prep© is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students—and others—to aid their preparation of U.S. federal income tax forms, including 8843, 1040NR, and 1040NR-EZ.

Sprintax is an online US tax prep solution for international students and scholars, and the recommended option for students at Oberlin College filing state taxes.

  1. What if I need help?
  • For questions about GLACIERTax Prep: watch the video tutorial, read the FAQs, or use the "Help" function.
  • For questions about Sprintax: watch the video tutorial, use the chat system, call 1.866.601.5695, or email hello@sprintax.com.
  • For questions about the 1040 NR or 1040 NR-EZ: call the Internal Revenue Service at 1.800.829.1040.
  • For questions about form IT 1040 or SD 100: call the Ohio Department of Taxation at 1.800.282.1780 or complete this form.
  • For questions regarding the RITA form 37: call RITA at 1.800.860.7482.
  • For general help understanding the questions and instructions provided by the software, attend a drop-in session staffed by the office of international student services. Check your OCMail for information on drop-in session dates this semester.
  1. What if I want someone to prepare my taxes for me?

You can find trained tax preparers by searching "tax preparation" in online directories, or seek professional assistance from local tax accountants. Be certain to inquire whether the accountant has experience with F-1 immigrants. As noted above: tax preparation is a specialized skill, the international student office cannot do your taxes for you, answer individual tax questions, or tell you whether you've done it “right.”

  1. What if someone from the IRS reaches me by phone to ask for payment immediately?

Tax scams often target international students. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS who uses threatening language and demands immediate payment, it’s almost certainly a scam. Read more about this type of scam here. Report suspicious phone calls to Oberlin College Office of Safety and Security (440.775.8444).

For more information visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) page with Tax Information For Foreign Students and Scholars.