Tax Information for International Students
Check out this short video that explains the US tax system for international students. You can also view slides from a presentation by the UH System on federal taxes and Hawaiʻi state taxes, view an international student tax frequently asked questions website and read about everything you wanted to know about US tax (but were afraid to ask!).
All international students on F-1 or J-1 visas who were present in the US during the previous calendar year are required to complete and submit certain tax forms. Why do you need to do this? First, it is required by US law. Failure to submit the necessary federal tax forms may cause difficulties when you return to your home country and renew your visa to return to the US. Second, you may be asked to produce copies of tax forms if you apply to change your visa status (such as to an H-1B "work visa") in the future. And finally, you may be eligible for a refund if you received US-source income.
Were you present in the US at any time during the previous calendar year?
- If no, then you do not need to submit any tax forms.
- If yes, please continue.
Did you receive any US-source income during the previous calendar year?
"US-source income" refers to income you earned by working in the US or scholarships you received from a US organization. (A scholarship from your home country is not considered "US-source" income.)
- If no, then follow the instructions in the section called "If you did not receive any US-source income" below.
- If yes, then follow the instructions in the section called "If you received income from US sources" below.
If you did not receive any US-source income:
If you did not receive any US-source income from work or scholarships covering more than the amount of your tuition and books last year, you are required to file only Form 8843. Download Form 8843 or pick up a copy at the International Student Services office. Another option is to use an online "wizard" tool to complete Form 8843, which will make the process easier for you. After using the online "wizard" tool, you can print, sign and mail the Form 8843 to the appropriate tax office.
- Enter the type of visa (F or J) that you used to enter the US and the date you entered the US.
- Your current non-immigrant status should be the same as #1a unless you changed status while in the US. No date is required unless you changed your status.
- Count the number of days you were physically present in the US in each of the last 3 calendar years.
- This should be the same number that you entered in the first blank on #4a.
- Enter: University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, 200 W. Kāwili St., Hilo, HI 96720, (808) 932-7467
- Enter: Jim Mellon, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, 200 W. Kāwili St., Hilo, HI 96720, 808-932-7467
- Answer each question according to your individual situation.
Part IV and Part V
Sign the bottom of page 2. Then make a copy for your records and mail it to the address in the instructions (see the section called "When and Where to File"):
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215
The deadline to send this form is June 15.
Please note: If you already have a US social security number or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), you must write the number on Form 8843. However, if you do not have a social security number or ITIN, you do not need to apply for one if you have no US-source income. Please read this document for more detailed information.
If you received income from US sources:
If you received income from US sources (such as from working in the US and/or from a scholarship totaling more than the amount of your tuition and books), you are required to file Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR and Form 8843. The deadline to send these forms is April 18.
Where can I get help with filling out these forms?
The International Student Services office has a free online program called Glacier Tax Prep. It is like "Turbo-Tax" but it is designed specifically for international students. If you would like to use this program, please send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting an access code. You will then receive a code to access the program along with instructions. Note: You do not need to use this program if you only need to submit Form 8843 (see above). Also, access codes will only be provided to 1) current UH Hilo international students, 2) UH Hilo international students who graduated within the past year, or 3) UH Hilo international students who are currently doing OPT or who completed OPT within the past year.
Note that there are 2 sets of tax forms: one for the federal government and another for the State of Hawaiʻi. Glacier Tax Prep is used to prepare the federal tax forms. For the State of Hawaiʻi tax forms, after you have finished the federal tax forms using Glacier Tax Prep you will be offered the opportunity to “jump over” to a different site called Sprintax if you are required to submit State of Hawaiʻi tax forms. Sprintax is an online program that will help you prepare your State of Hawaiʻi tax forms.
Here’s how it works:
- You create or login to an existing Glacier Tax Prep account to prepare your federal tax return
- When finished with the federal tax return, IF, based on the information entered into Glacier Tax Prep, it appears that you are also required to file a state tax return, you will have the opportunity to click on a link to continue on to Sprintax for assistance in preparing the state tax return.
- If you choose to continue to Sprintax, you will log out of Glacier Tax Prep, create a separate Sprintax registration, and pay a separate fee directly to Sprintax.
Another option is to pay for the services of a professional tax preparer or use tax preparation software (such as TurboTax, TaxAct or H & R Block).
Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN)
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a issued by the US Internal Revenue Service to individuals who are required for US tax purposes to have a US taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to get a social security number. An ITIN does not entitle you to work in the US and does not change your immigration status. Not all international students need to get an ITIN. Examples of students who need to get an ITIN include:
- A nonresident alien student who will receive some sort of non-work payment, such as a stipend issued by the University.
- A nonresident alien student who is required to file a US tax return but who is not eligible for a social security number, or who is claiming an exception to the tax return filing requirement.
- A nonresident alien student claiming reduced withholding under an applicable income tax treaty for which an ITIN is required. (See IRS Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities.)
- A dependent/spouse of a nonresident alien US visa holder, who is not eligible for a social security number.
If you are submitting a US return and do not have an ITIN, you can apply for an ITIN at the time you submit your tax return forms. Follow the steps below:
- Complete a Form W-7. Click here for instructions for the Form W-7.
- Include your original tax return form for which the ITIN is needed. Attach Form W-7 to the front of your tax return form. (Note: If you are applying for an ITIN without submitting a tax return form, you do not need to include any tax return forms.)
- Include a copy of your passport photo page, visa page, and I-20 form.
- Contact the Director of International Student Services to request a letter certifying that the passport, visa and I-20 form are valid, and if you have any questions about the Form W-7.
- Keep a copy of your Form W-7 and other supporting documents for your records.
- After your Form W-7 has been processed, the Internal Revenue Service will assign an ITIN to the return and process the return.
Form 1098-T is a federal form which colleges and universities issue to report qualified tuition, scholarships and related expenses for students. The form is used to assist individuals with determining if they are eligible for certain tax credits. However, the University of Hawaiʻi does not provide this form for non-resident alien students because non-resident aliens generally cannot claim these education tax credits. For more information on this form and education tax credits, please visit the UH Financial Management Office.
If you are an international student from a Compact of Free Association nation, you can access your Form 1098-T form in your MyUH account. After logging in, click on Tax Notification under Student Records on the left side of the page. Click on the Tax Notification link, enter the year, and then click "Submit." You may be eligible to claim education tax credits.
Students from Canada
If you are from Canada and need to get the Tuition, Education and Textbook Amounts Certificate form completed by the University, please bring the form to the Registrar's Office (1st floor of the Student Services Center) and they will complete it for you. This Canada Revenue Agency form is used to certify eligibility for the tuition, education and textbook amounts of a student attending a university outside Canada.
Students from South Korea
If you are from South Korea and need an official tuition receipt for tax purposes, please submit a request via email to email@example.com. The UH Hilo Cashier's Office can send the document to your hawaii.edu email account or they can send it via regular mail. In your email request, indicate whether you want the document sent to your hawaii.edu email or to a mailing address.
Students from the Compact of Free Association Nations
If you worked in the US last year, you should receive a form called a W-2 form from your employer. A W-2 form is a document that shows how much income you earned last year and how much taxes (if any) were taken out of your paychecks. Employees use this W-2 form to file US federal and Hawaiʻi state tax forms.
Are you required to submit US federal and Hawaii state tax forms if you worked in the US last year? No, not everyone is required to submit these tax forms. It depends on four things: 1) how much money you earned in 2016, 2) how old you are, 3) your “filing status” (e.g., single, married), and 4) whether you are considered a “dependent” or “independent.” More detailed information is available. Most of you are probably not required to submit the forms. However, even if you are not required to submit tax forms, you may want to submit them because you might be able to receive a refund of taxes that were taken out of your paychecks.
Tax forms and regulations are complicated. Unfortunately, UH Hilo is not able to assist students with preparing tax forms. However, here are some options for assistance:
Goodwill: Goodwill offers free tax preparation services for qualified individuals and families on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-7 pm. Consult Goodwill's website for more information and to schedule an appointment.
MyFreeTaxes:MyFreeTaxes allows anyone who earned less than $62,000 to prepare and electronically file their federal and state tax returns for free.
AARP: Offers free tax help in Hilo at 1055 Kinoʻole Street on Tuesdays from 8:30 am-12:30 pm and Thursdays from 8:30 am-3:30 pm. Appointments are required. Call 808-961-8777 for more information or to make an appointment. Click here for more information.
You can use the Internal Revenue Service's Free File program or online software such as TurboTax, TaxAct or H & Block to prepare the tax forms yourself. For simple forms, there is no cost.
You can pay for a professional tax preparation company in Hilo such as H & R Block or Jackson Hewitt (inside Walmart) to prepare the tax forms.