Annual Tax Filing for Nonresidents

Annual Tax Forms and Information

All foreign nationals with earned income and nonresidents on F or J visas without income must file a U.S. tax return in the following year. 

Nonresidents must complete their annual federal tax return by April 15 for the previous tax year if they have wages reported on a W-2. If a nonresident only has a 1042-S, and not a W-2, such as someone who has only received scholarship/fellowship payments or if all of their income is exempt under a tax treaty, they have until June 15 to file their tax return. 

Complete rules to who must file and tax deadlines are on the 1040NR instructions

Tax Forms issued by HR Payroll & Benefits

Individuals should familiarize themselves with the tax forms below.  It is important to understand what tax forms you will receive each year and assure you have them in hand before filing your tax returns.  Many students and scholars might receive different tax forms from year-to-year.     

  • Form W-2 is issued to employees who earned employment income from Northwestern and are mailed by January 31 of the following year.  This would include any income from assistantship wages, temporary wages, supplemental payments, teaching and research wages.   This does not include any income exempt from taxes under a tax treaty or non-employment wages such as scholarship/fellowship (see 1042-S below).
  • Form 1095-C Starting with tax year 2015, New Affordable Care Act (ACA) laws require all benefits eligible employees and students will receive Form 1095.  Benefits eligible Northwestern employees receive 1095-C from the University and students receive 1095-B from AETNA. 
  • Form 1042-S is issued to nonresidents receiving scholarship/fellowship, independent contractor, royalties, prizes and award payments and any payments receiving tax treaty benefits.  Payroll mails them by March 15 of the following year for use in preparing annual tax returns.  Once a student becomes a tax resident, they are no longer issued a 1042-S for these income types unless they are on a tax treaty.  Please see our tax page for more detail on taxation for tax resident scholarships.  

Tax Resources


GLACIER Tax Prep is an easy-to-use online tool designed exclusively for nonresident international students, scholars, and their dependents to help prepare their U.S. Federal Income Tax forms (1040NR/ 1040NR-EZ, and 8843).  It is only available to nonresidents and tax residents must use one of the many publically available platforms

You will receive an email from your International Office student advisor with your personalized access code generally by mid-February of the following year (around the time we mail the Form 1042-S forms).  If you did not receive your GLACIER Tax Prep access code, you can contact the Payroll Office, or your International Office student advisor List of Advisors

The staff at the Payroll and the International Office are not trained tax professionals and are not able to provide one-on-one advising regarding filing tax returns, questions about forms, etc. We can provide general information, and we can direct you toward tax resources.

Tax Tips

  • When you file your tax returns, keep a signed copy of all returns and schedules.
  • Use the 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals form (found on the IRS website) to estimate amount of tax you may owe for federal taxes.
  • If you are paid scholarship/fellowship, make sure to pay estimated taxes to Illinois.
  • The International Office has common tax scenarios and other useful information and links on their website

IRS Tax Resources

State Tax Forms

You are required to complete a State Tax Return for each state in which you worked in the previous year. If the state you worked in is not on our list, try googling the state name and "state tax return."

Applying for ITIN

Often individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Numbers, but require a tax ID to file tax returns, must apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when filing their tax returns. 

If you use GLACIER Tax Prep to prepare your tax return, it will assist in preparing your ITIN application.  You will mail both the ITIN application and your federal tax return (1040NR or 1040NR-EZ) to the ITIN unit listed in your instructions.  You will need to attach the following:

  • No employment letter (can receive this letter from International Office or Payroll Office)
  • Original or certified copy of unexpired passport.  It is not recommended to send your original passport, instead you can request a certified copies from an embassy or consulate (fee often applies) or an IRS Office.  You can check for available locations here to make an appointment or call 1-844-545-5640.   Make sure to check “services provided” link to assure they have ITIN services at the location. 
  • Copy of visa

ITIN application and instructions Please assure to read the instructions carefully and complete all applicable fields.