The following situational requirements will walk you through what is required in each situation.
- Tax scenario #1: An international student with no earned income or W-2.
- Tax scenario #2: An international student or employee who earned money from Northwestern or another employer.
- Tax scenario #3: An international student who received scholarship or fellowship funds.
I am an international student/scholar, and I had no earned income in 2015. Nor did I receive a W-2.
What am I required to file?
All students and scholars in F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrant status, and their F-2/J-2 dependents, are required to file the IRS Form 8843 regardless of whether they have income in the U.S. or not. Use Glacier Tax Prep to complete and mail your Form 8843.
Anyone who received a W-2 should proceed to tax scenario #2.
Form 8843 is due June 15, 2016.
I worked for Northwestern (or for another employer) in 2015, and I have a W-2 and/or a 1042-S for wages earned and taxes paid.
What am I required to to file?
An individual who received a W-2 and who was employed in the U.S. in 2015 is required to file a Federal Tax Return and a State Tax Return. State Tax Returns may be required for each state in which you were employed. We will cover information specific to Illinois.
The correct tax forms to be filed depend on an individuals residency status for tax purposes. The IRS determines tax residency based on two classifications:
- Residents: All U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and nonresident aliens for immigration purposes who have met the Substantial Presence Test (see below for more information).
- Nonresident Aliens: All others, regardless of immigration status. Many international students/scholars are considered "nonresident aliens" for tax purposes.
The IRS uses the Substantial Presence Test (SPT) to determine when nonresident aliens for immigration purposes have been in the U.S. long enough to be considered residents for tax purposes. NU employees may contact the Office of Payroll for information on their SPT; all others should consult the IRS Publication 519 for additional information. Keep in mind that GLACIER Tax Prep will conduct the SPT for you.
Federal Tax Return: All nonresident aliens for tax purposes who earned income in the U.S. in 2015 must complete and file the Form 1040NR (1040NR Instructions) or if eligible Form 1040NR-EZ (1040NR-EZ Instructions). Glacier Tax Prep will prepare these forms and provide instructions to you for submitting your return to the IRS. All nonresident aliens are also required to complete and submit Form 8843 as well. Each of these forms provide detailed instructions and information on when and where to submit by using Glacier Tax Prep.
State Tax Return: All nonresident aliens for tax purposes who earned income in the state of Illinois in 2015 must complete and file Illinois Form 1040. Again, this form comes with detailed instructions. Students may choose to use Sprintax to file their state taxes for a fee. The Sprintax system will guide you through the tax filing for any state in which you may have worked in 2015.
Both Federal and State Tax Returns must be filed by April 18, 2016.
I am a student who received scholarship or fellowship funds, but did not receive a W-2 for earned income.
What am I required to file?
Payments for scholarship and fellowships as well as wages paid under a tax treaty are reported on Form 1042-S, which are prepared and mailed from the university no later than late-February. For questions regarding the 1042-S, contact the Office of Payroll.
If a nonresident alien only has a 1042-S, they have until June 15, 2016 to file their tax return.