Tax Obligations

All nonresident students and scholars present in the United States under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file forms with the US Internal Revenue Service, IRS, ( each year. The IRS is the government agency that collects taxes. As a nonresident F-1 or J-1 visa holder, you may need to file forms each calendar year with the IRS, even if you earned no income. It is your individual responsibility to understand and meet your tax obligations. Tax returns are due every April 15th based on earnings from the previous year. If you received NO taxable income, the filing deadline is June 15th each year.

While employers do deduct money from your paycheck throughout the year and send it to the IRS, it may not equal the exact amount owed at the end of the year. If too much was deducted, you may be eligible for a refund. If not enough was deducted, you will owe still more. Salary from a job is not the only type of earning taxed; many types of income are taxable. Even if you did not work and do not owe any taxes, you may need to submit an information form to the IRS: Form 8843

What is Form 8843?

Form 8843 is not an income tax return. It is an informational statement required by the US government for certain nonresident students and scholars (including their spouses or dependents).

Who Must File Form 8843?

All nonresidents present in the US under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843, even if they received no income during this current year. The Form 8843 must be filed if an individual is:

  • present in the US during the current year
  • a nonresident alien
  • present under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status.

If an individual meets all three criteria above, the individual must file Form 8843 regardless of age and even if the individual is not required to file a US tax return form (Form 1040NR).
Download the form here:

The tax filing process is relatively simple for students and scholars with no US source income. However, meeting tax obligations for those with US source income is more complex for those individuals who receive a stipend or salary for full-time, part-time or temporary work. Taxes on income earned will include Federal tax, Pennsylvania state tax, and local Philadelphia tax.

Tax obligations for students and scholars with any US-based financial support may be reduced or modified by tax treaty agreements between nations. Students and scholars who need more information on tax treaties are advised to read IRS Publication 901 (.pdf). When using this guide select the section relevant to your situation ("Professors, Teachers, and Researchers", or "Students and APPRENTICES").

The International Affairs Office does not provide individual tax advice or guidance. There are several ways an international student or scholar might file their tax returns.

  1. File the forms on your own
  2. Hire a tax attorney or tax accountant
  3. Purchase tax preparation software.

If you would like to use a software program, SPRINTAX is a good resource. This company's software is specifically designed for International students and scholars. You will need to fill in your information and answer some questions, and the software will determine what forms to file. The cost of this service is approximately $75.00, depending on how many forms you are required to file. Use the following link for SPRINTAX: