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Student Tax Returns - International Student Tax Refunds

Do I have to file my US Tax Returns?
One condition required by the Immigration and Naturalization Service for all educational and employment programs into the US, is that all participants must file their US tax returns. Failure to do so can result in being denied a future visa. For example, when applying for a US Green Card, checks are done on those who have previously worked in the US, to ensure their tax returns have been filed. As most people are entitled to a tax refund, it is good for you to file.

What is the deadline?
The US income tax return due date is April 15 for students that had calendar year 2003 wages subject to USA Income Tax Withholding. Students with only passive income have until June 15th to file their federal income tax return. Furthermore, it is possible to obtain an extension to file your USA Income Tax Return, if you file an extension request before the above due dates and have paid all your income taxes. If state and local income tax returns are due their due date maybe different than the federal due date.

Who can apply for a refund?
If you worked in the US, and had a social security number, you can apply for a refund. All nationalities can apply. You may also be eligible for a tax refund, if you had an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and had USA income tax withheld on passive income such as dividends, etc.

Can I do it myself?
Yes you can file your taxes by yourself. This can be tricky for internationals so it is suggested that you get some assistance, either from a tax return company or tax accountant.

How much can I get back?
This depends on how much you earn, and also on your visa type, nationality and length of time spent in the US. This is all taken into account when calculating your tax refund.

What is a W2 form?
This is a statement from your employer of how much money you have earned, and how much Federal, State, Local, Social Security and Medicare taxes have been deducted on your behalf. Your employer should send this to you the year after your employment. For example, if you work during 2001, you will receive your W2 during 2002.

What is a final pay-stub?
The final pay-stub generally contains the same information as the W2 form, however you will receive this from your employer when you finish working.

Which form do I need to get my tax back?
Normally you need the W2 form, however, you may be able to file your tax returns and organize your refund with EITHER your final pay-stub or your W2 form.

When an international student receives a full scholarship - tuition, room and board - do they have any US tax obligation?

Scholarship for tuition and fees for a degree program are not taxable. Scholarships for room and board are taxable, unless the scholarship is from a non US party or there is an income tax treaty between the USA and the country the individual receiving the scholarship is a citizen/ resident of that exempts the room and board portion of the scholarship from a US party.

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