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Taxes-how-it-worksTaxes: How it works?

U.S. tax law divides non U.S. citizens into Resident aliens and Nonresident aliens for tax purposes. Your tax residency (whether you are a nonresident alien or a resident alien for tax purposes) determines how you are taxed and which tax forms you need to fill out. Resident aliens generally are taxed on their worldwide income, the same as U.S. citizens. Nonresident aliens are taxed only on their income from sources within the United States and on certain income connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States.

To the majority of individuals, your income tax is deducted from each paycheck and sent to federal and state tax authorities. This is also referred to as tax withholding. International students and scholars who have been in the U.S. must file an annual tax report by the following year's tax filing deadline, both at federal and at state level. “Federal” refers to the U.S. government and taxes are collected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The deadline is usually April 15th of the following year. Taxes are computed on a calendar-year basis (January 1 to December 31). You will need tax forms from UMass or other sources in order to file your taxes. If your payments during the year were not enough to cover the total income tax due, you must pay the rest to the IRS. Conversely, if you paid more than what you owe in income tax, the IRS will send back your excess payment in the form of a tax refund. Tax payers may also be required to pay tax in the state where they live or work.

NRA-alien-fed-tax-returnNonresident Alien Federal Tax Return

If you were in the U.S. during 2018, on anything other than a B visa or visa waiver, you are likely expected to file a Form 8843 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If, in addition, you received U.S. source income, you are also expected to file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ along with Form 8843.

Form 8843

All international students, scholars and their dependents present in the U.S. under F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status must file Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition even if they did not received U.S. source income in 2018. Form 8843 is not a U.S. income tax return. It is an informational statement required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for nonresidents for tax purposes (including spouses or dependents of nonresidents).

If you received U.S. source income in 2018, mail Form 8843 along with your tax return (Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ). If you did not received any U.S. source income in 2018, mail Form 8843 by June 15, 2019 to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Form 8843 and Instructions

Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return

You may need to file Form 1040NR if you:

  • were a nonresident alien engaged in a trade or business in the United States,
  • represented a deceased person who would have had to file Form 1040NR, or
  • represented an estate or trust that had to file Form 1040NR.

Form 1040NR and Instructions

Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents

You may be able to use Form 1040NR-EZ if your only income from U.S. sources is wages, salaries, tips, refunds of state and local income taxes, scholarship or fellowship grants, and nontaxable interest or dividends. If you had taxable interest or dividend income, you must use Form 1040NR.

Form 1040NR-EZ and Instructions

When to File

If you were an employee and received wages subject to U.S. income tax withholding, file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ by the 15th day of the 4th month after your tax year ends. A return for the 2018 calendar year is due by April 15, 2019. (Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.) If you file after this date, you may have to pay interest and penalties.

Extension of Time to File

If you cannot file your return by the due date, file Form 4868 to get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. You must file Form 4868 by the regular due date of the return. Instead of filing Form 4868, you can apply for an automatic extension by making an electronic payment by the due date of your return. Although you aren’t required to make a payment of the tax you estimate as due, Form 4868 doesn’t extend the time to pay taxes. If you don’t pay the amount due by the regular due date, you’ll owe interest. You may also be charged penalties.

Where to File

If you are NOT enclosing a payment, mail Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ along with Form 8843 to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, Texas 73301-0215

If you are enclosing a payment, mail Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ along with Form 8843 to:

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, NC 28201-1303, USA

Check on a Refund

Track a refund using IRS Where’s My Refund? It’s quick, easy and secure. Taxpayers who file a paper return can check the refund status four weeks after mailing it. Once the IRS approves a refund, the tool will give a date to expect it. The IRS updates refund status for the tool once a day, so there’s no reason to check more often.

state-tax-returnState Tax Return


MA Department of Revenue Personal Income Tax

Who Must File

Massachusetts does not require an annual tax report from those who made less than the minimum filing requirement or had no income at all, see Who Must File. If your Massachusetts gross income is less than $8,000, you don't have to file a Massachusetts tax return. If you earned more than the Massachusetts Adjusted Gross Income, you are required to file a Massachusetts state tax return. If you do not have a filing requirement but had taxes withheld from your income, the only way you can get your money back is to file a Massachusetts tax return and get a refund.

What Forms To File

Your legal and residency status in Massachusetts affects how you file your taxes. Find out what you should file and how to report your income.

Your domicile, or legal residence, is your true home or main residence. You may have multiple residences at one time, but only 1 domicile. You can't choose to make your home one place for general living purposes and in another for tax purposes. Your legal residence is usually where you maintain your most important family, social, economic, political, and religious ties, and it depends on all the facts and circumstances per case, including good faith. A minor's domicile is the same as that of the parent or guardian who has lawful custody of the child.

  • You are a full-year Resident if your residence (domicile) was in Massachusetts for the entire taxable year or if you maintained a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts and during the year spent more than 183 days, in the aggregate, in the state. If you fit this description, you should file Form 1, Massachusetts Resident Income Tax Return.
  • You are a Nonresident if you are not a resident of Massachusetts as defined above but received Massachusetts source income (e.g. from a job in Massachusetts). You must report such income by filing Form 1 - NR/PY, Massachusetts Nonresident/Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return.
  • You are a Part-Year Resident if, during the taxable year, you moved to Massachusetts or established a permanent place of abode here and became a resident, or you terminated your status as a Massachusetts resident to establish a residence outside the state. Part-year residents must file Form 1 - NR/PY, Massachusetts Nonresident/Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return.

Extension of Time to File

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) provides individual taxpayers an automatic 6-month extension of time to file their tax returns as long as they have paid at least 80% of the total amount of tax due on or before the payment due date. Taxpayers meeting this payment requirement will be granted an automatic extension, no action is needed. If an extension payment is required to reach the 80% threshold, taxpayers are encouraged to pay electronically using MassTaxConnect. An individual taxpayer who is required to pay $5,000 or more to qualify for an extension must make the payment electronically.

Check on a Refund

Track a refund on MassTaxConnect or call (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts (800) 392-6089. MassTaxConnect is the Department of Revenue's web-based application for filing and paying taxes. Paper returns take up to 10 weeks. Electronically filed (E-filed) returns take up to 6 weeks to process.

Other States

If you lived or worked in more than one state during the preceding calendar year, you may be required to file a state tax return in each state. If you made income in another state and would like to know about that state's filing requirements, please see state's website for details.

tax-record-and-documentsTax Records and Documents

You may receive tax forms from UMass, your employer or other sources. For more information about the specific forms, see Tax Forms. If you are a nonresident alien, the following documents will assist you in completing your tax returns. No matter how or when you file, you should keep a copy of your tax return and all supporting documents for at least three years.

  • Copies of Tax Year federal and state tax returns
  • Personal information including:
  • Legal name(s)
  • Birth date(s)
  • Social Security number(s)
  • Records of your earnings (W-2 forms, 1042-S forms or 1099-MISC forms if you’re an independent contractor)
  • Passport
  • All your current and past immigration documents: passport, I-94, I-20 and DS-2019 forms, etc.
  • Records of interest and dividends from banks (1099 forms: 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc.)
  • Receipts of charitable contributions
  • Total child care expenses and child care provider information
  • Total rent paid, as well as landlord or rental agent’s name and address
  • Proof of health insurance (1099-HC)
  • Bank account and bank routing numbers if having a refund direct deposited

tax-softwareTax Software

Federal Tax Software

GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) is an online federal income tax filing program designed exclusively for international students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and their dependents who are nonresident aliens for tax purposes in the United States to prepare their U.S. federal income tax return Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Please access GTP.

UMass is offering access to GTP to eligible international students and scholars. Review the GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) page for further information.

Nonresident Aliens should NOT use software designed for U.S citizens and Resident Aliens (e.g. TurboTax). If you incorrectly filed a Form 1040 to the IRS by using software like TurboTax, your tax form will not be correct and you will have to submit an amended tax return to the IRS.

State Tax Software

GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) can be used to file your federal tax return ONLY (no state returns). You may transfer the information to Sprintax to complete your state return. Access Sprintax.

Note: Resident Aliens may use the Free File Software Lookup Tool listed on the IRS website to find out which software you can use for free.