Employee Tax Information

Employee Tax Forms

You must complete Form W-4 so that the University can withhold the correct amount of tax.

Annual Tax Forms and Information

  • Form W-2 Information is sent to employees by January 31 each year which provides information for annual tax returns.
    • Employees can now opt-in to receive an electronic version of their W-2 directly through the Self Service Portal.  For security reasons, employees must opt-in each year; a notofication will be sent at the end of each calendar year.
  • Form 1042-S Information is sent to nonresidents receiving scholarship/fellowship payments, independent contracted services, and payments receiving treaty benefits.  It is sent out by March 15 each year for use in preparing annual tax returns.
  • Tax Withholding Tables PDF Document explains federal and Illinois tax rates.
  • IRS Publication 970 Tax Benefits for Education PDF Document is useful for scholarship/fellowship recipients to explain how to report their scholarship/fellowship payments and more. It also addresses taxation of employer-provided educational assistance.
  • IRS Home Page is where many federal forms and publications can be found.
  • Illinois Department of Revenue Home Page is where many Illinois forms can be found.

Scholarships & Fellowships

  • Scholarship/Fellowship payments for U.S. citizens, Permanent Residents, and U.S. tax residents are taxable but not subject to tax withholding unless a student specifically requests taxes to be withheld via federal and state W-4 forms.   The payments may be considered taxable income and must be reported when filing your U.S. federal and state tax returns.  Please see IRS publication 970 to assist in determining which portion of these payments is considered taxable income.  If you would like Payroll to withhold taxes, complete the Federal and IL W-4 Employee’s Illinois Withholding Allowance Certificate forms by entering a specific dollar amount on line 6 for the federal W-4 and line 3 on the Illinois W-4. 

  • Once you add the additional tax withholding, it is very important to know this extra withholding will continue on each payment you receive from the University until you submit new federal and state W-4s removing the additional amount.  That means if you later switch to an assistantship payment (GA, RA, TA) or any other type of employment income (prize, additional pay, etc.) where regular federal and state taxes are withheld, you will then be taxed on the payment for BOTH the normal tax withholding and the additional amount you entered on the W-4s.  To avoid this, make sure to stay alert to any funding changes.  If you will be changing from scholarship/fellowship to another type of payment (or back), you must submit the federal and Illinois W-4 forms to the Payroll Office by the 15th of the month for the tax change to be effective for that month.  Due to federal and Illinois tax laws, Northwestern is unable to refund any taxes to students that fail to adjust their W-4s by the required deadlines.

  • Non-resident fellowship/scholarship recipients are subject to taxation on their paychecks unless the money will be used for educational purposes outside the U.S.  Please contact Payroll for details and include the Statement for Independent Educational Activities Conducted Outside the U.S. along with the appointment/position form. 

Social Security (OASDI) and Medicare Tax for Students

  • Students who are enrolled full time will not have Social Security and Medicare (also called FICA) taxes withheld.
  • Graduate students who enroll late may have these taxes withheld from their monthly payments. The Graduate School publishes the dates by which students must enroll by to avoid these taxes.
  • To receive a refund of Social Security and Medicare tax taken from your monthly check due to late enrollment, you must send the payroll office a copy of both your check stub showing the tax was withheld and a copy of your schedule or other proof of full-time student status. Your tax will be refunded within 30 days.

NRSA Postdoctoral Trainees

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoctoral trainees continue to retain their trainee status. Information on this can be found on the NRSA web page from the Office of Sponsored Research.
  • NRSA post-docs do not have tax withheld or wages reported on Form W-2 at the end of the year.  They must report all amounts paid that are not used for qualified expenses (tuition, books, etc.; please refer to IRS Publication 970 PDF Document).
  • NRSA post-docs can have tax withheld by completing Federal Form W-4 PDF Document and Illinois Form W-4 PDF Document requesting “Additional amount” to be withheld estimating the amount of tax that will be owed on their taxable fellowship.
Foreign nationals should visit our Nonresident Alien Information and Forms page for important details.