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U.S. Taxes

Who must file tax forms for 2020 tax season?

Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the U.S. on F or J status anytime between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 you're obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, are the U.S. tax authorities).

Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable U.S. source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

Tax Filing Deadline

April 15, 2021 is the last day for residents and nonresidents who earned US income to file Federal tax returns for the 2020 tax year.

Who is considered Resident or Nonresident for Federal Tax Purposes

Generally, most international students and scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J-1 and F-1 visas are automatically considered nonresident for their first five calendar years in the U.S., whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the U.S. If you’ve been in the U.S. for longer than the five or two year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

How to File

We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the U.S. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you login to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the U.S. over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities.

However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.

DISCLAIMER: The International Programs Office and University of Idaho are NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.

Types of income statements issued by employers

Name of form Purpose


“Wage and Tax Statement.” A form issued annually by employers to report compensation income (must be mailed/provided by January 31).


“Foreign Persons U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.” A form used to report (mailed/provided by March 15):

  • “Non-qualified” scholarship/fellowship payments, whether exempted from withholding due to a tax treaty or taxed.
  • Tax treaty-exempt wage income.
  • Honorarium payments and other “self-employment” income (This income should never be reported on a Form 1099-Misc when the recipient is a nonresident alien).
  • Prizes and award income.


A 1099R is a refund given to persons who had income withheld as part of a retirement plan. Any disbursement from such a plan will result in a 10% penalty on the income tax return according to the amount of refund received. This form is not common in all states, but may apply to some of our participants, so is included in this list.


A student is given this by a bank for interest earned on checking/savings accounts. This is not reportable income for nonresident aliens and therefore does not need to be included in the tax return process.


Dividends and distributions on investments. This is reportable income.


State income tax return received from the previous tax year. It is reportable income if it was used to lower a federal income earned from the previous tax year. (Students from India are not required to report this as income, since they are allowed to use the Standard Deduction and do not itemize their tax return using the state taxes as a deduction.)


Income earned from various other sources other than as an employee. For example student may have worked as an independent contractor while on Practical Training. However, according to current tax code, nonresidents are to be issued Forms 1042-S in lieu of the 1099-Misc, even though many U.S. companies are unfamiliar with this rule and will mistakenly issue the 1099-Misc.

International Programs Office

Physical Address:
901 Paradise Creek St.
LLC Bldg. #3
Moscow, ID 83844

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 1250
Moscow, ID 83844-1250

COVID-19 Information for international students, employees and scholars

Phone: 208-885-8984

Fax: 208-885-2859