Filing Taxes

W-8BEN Form

Some students may be asked by Bank of America to complete a W-8BEN form. If you receive such a form and you have been an F-1 student in the United States for five years or less, it is essential that you complete the form--here is a copy of the form and instructions for filling it out--and return it by the date requested. The bank is required to have a withholding document on file in order to determine how/if to report interest income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and whether or not tax should be withheld on the amount. If the bank's records indicate that you (the account holder) are a non-immigrant, the bank may mail you a W-8BEN to certify your foreign status. Therefore, if you have a bank account, the banking industry needs to have the W-8BEN on file in order to show the IRS that, YES, interest income was paid on your account, but NO, it's not taxable. Most students, if sent the W-8BEN, should just complete Part I, including your permanent address abroad, and sign the bottom at Part IV. The middle section will not apply to most individuals, since even if you are from a country that has a tax treaty with the United States, interest earnings are usually not part of the treaty benefits.

In the box where you are also asked to write your permanent address, you will also see another few lines asking you why you have a mailing address in the U.S.  Just enter the information highlighted in yellow on this sample box.  Remember that after you complete the form, you must print it out, sign and date it, and then mail it to the bank.

Form 1099-HC

Health care reform legislation requires Massachusetts state residents age 18 and over to have health care coverage.  All students will receive a Form 1099-HC in the mail showing proof of health care coverage.  It is used to fill out the Schedule HC form, which is a required part of the Massachusetts state income tax return. You only need this form if you must file a Massachusetts state tax return. You don't have to file a state tax return form for Massachusetts unless you have earned over $8,000.00 in Massachusetts during the previous calendar year. If you don't have to file a Massachusetts tax return form, then you can ignore Form 1099-HC.

Permanent Residents for Tax Purposes

The information below does not apply to students who are permanent residents of the U.S. (have a "green card"), have U.S. passports, or are permanent residents for tax purposes. You are considered a permanent resident for tax purposes if you have lived for 5 years or more in the U.S. If the above information applies to you, you may file your U.S. tax return online (just like a U.S. citizen and at no cost to you!) using a free program available from the IRS. If you are not sure if you are a permanent resident for tax purposes, see Lorraine Lacasse in Financial Services.

Why Do I Have to File a Tax Return?

 Many international students earn money from on-campus jobs, and some international students also receive grants or scholarships from Mount Holyoke to cover some of their expenses at the College. The College is required by law to withhold taxes from your paycheck and, in addition, must tax that portion of your MHC grant or scholarship which exceeds the cost of tuition, fees, books and course supplies (i.e., room & board). These two sources of income are taxable. Some of you will receive bills from Student Financial Services (SFS) for the amount of the tax on your grant or scholarship. However, the good news is that, after you file your tax return in the spring, you will be able to get back some portion of the money that has been withheld. The money you receive (your "tax refund") will allow you to pay the bill sent to you by SFS.
 Students with F-1 and J-1 visas who arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 2014 must complete at least one tax form (Form 8843). This includes those who have not worked or earned any money in the United States. Form 8843 is the only form you must complete if you have no income subject to taxation in the U.S. and it establishes your "exempt" status. Non-residents are exempt from filing tax returns if they have no U.S.-based income and are also exempt from paying tax on non-U.S. source income. You do not need a social security number or an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer ID Number) to complete this form.

For those international students who do not work or whose only source of income is from a grant/scholarship (shown on tax form 1042S), the filing deadline is June 15, 2014.  However, we nevertheless recommend that you mail your tax return on April 15th.

What is Taxable Income?

  • Wages from on-campus jobs or off-campus internships (if approved for CPT or OPT)
  • Internship or research stipends
  • Dividends from U.S. companies
  • U.S.-based financial aid/scholarships that exceed the cost of tuition, fees, books and course supplies.

F-1 and J-1 visa holders who have U.S.-source taxable income must file a tax return. Although a tax treaty may exempt you from paying taxes, you are still required to file an income tax return if you have U.S.-based taxable income. Financial Services will prepare one or more of the following forms for you in January: W-2, 1042S, or 1099.

You will have to authorize MHC to post your W-2 form online (you will receive an email from Financial Services explaining how to do this).  As soon as this authorization has gone through, your W-2 form will be available in ISIS under "ISIS for Employees."  The McCulloch Center will have the 1042S forms for those students on campus who are issued them. If you are studying abroad, are on leave in the spring, or graduated the previous year, the 1042S form will be sent to the address which the College has on record for you.  If there is another address to which it should be sent, please contact Jenny Medina (jmedina@mtholyoke.edu).

You will need these forms to complete your tax return. The statements will list your income and any tax paid during the calendar year 2013. Bank statements may be used to document any interest earned from your bank accounts during the calendar year 2013. You will also need a Social Security number or an ITIN. For those with taxable U.S. income, the deadline for filing a tax return is April 15, 2014.

Filing Your Federal Tax Return

The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives has purchased the Glacier Tax Preparation Program (GTP) so that all current students will be able to complete their federal tax return online at their leisure.  Upperclass students are familiar with this program. 

Ted Los from UMass and Jenny Medina (Acting Dean of International Students in Spring 2014) will be holding informational sessions on February 14th from 4-6pm and Saturday, February 15th from 10am-12noon in Dwight 101 to introduce students to the program and answer any questions.  There will also be a manual available to you with detailed instructions on how to use the program.  All international students will receive an email in February with more specific details.

Remember that all international students must mail their tax return to the IRS. The address to which you should mail your return will be on the instruction sheet that you print out along with your tax returns.  Below is also a link which will help you determine when you will receive your tax refund (if you are due money) after you have mailed in your tax return:

Find out the status of your tax refund!

Filing a Corrected or Amended Tax Return

If you discover that you made a mistake after mailing your tax return to the IRS, you will have to file an amended or corrected tax return. You must fill out Form 1040X entitled Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. In addition, you will need to fill out a new 1040NR-EZ (see above for instructions). Attach a copy of the W-2 Form (and a copy of the 1042S Form, if you received one) to the newly filled out 1040NR-EZ Form you've just completed. Mail everything, including a copy of the *incorrectly filed tax form* to the IRS Service Center. The mailing address can be found in Form 1040X Instructions

Students with Paid Internships Off Campus

As soon as you secure a paid summer internship, you must be sure to communicate to your employer that you are a non-immigrant student. Non-immigrant students are not supposed to have social security or Medicare taxes taken out of their paychecks. Please consult Taxes and Paid Internships and show the text to your employer before you begin work. If you had a paid summer internship, you should also receive a W-2 form (or, depending on the type of work you did, a 1042S form) from your employer. You will need this form to file your taxes! If you don't receive a W-2 form (or a 1042S form) from your summer employer, please contact the organization or company as soon as possible. Please also consult the section on State Taxes below, as you may have to file a state tax return for the state in which you worked. *Important*: If your employer did withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA) from your paychecks by mistake, you can get this money back. Here is what to do: you must first ask your employer for a refund. If you are unable to receive a refund from your employer, you must file Form 843 and supplemental Form 8316 to get a refund from the Internal Revenue Service. After filling out these forms, mail them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). See the instructions for mailing above.

Filing a State Tax Return

In addition to a federal tax return some students may have to file a state tax return. If you had a paid internship in the U.S., you will most likely have to file a state tax return for the state in which you did the internship. This is normally a good thing, since you may well be entitled to a refund.  Please note that the Glacier Tax Preparation Program *only* allows you to file your federal return, not any state tax returns. However, you may still go to the free UMass VITA tax sessions, which Ted Los supervises, to have your state tax returns done for free (you must bring a copy of your federal tax return, W-2s and 1042S form along with your I-20 or DS2019 to UMass).  

Massachusetts
You don't have to file a state tax return form for Massachusetts unless you have earned over $8,000.00 in Massachusetts during the previous year. If you did earn more than $8,000.00 in Massachusetts last year, then you must file a Massachusetts non-resident tax return (Form 1-NR/PY, Nonresident or Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return). The help form and instructions available online. However, you should probably go to one of the tax sessions at UMass, since the volunteers there can help you complete your return.  If are filing Massachusetts state tax return, you need to show proof of health insurance. You will receive a Form 1099-HC (Massachusetts Health Care Coverage) in the mail. Do not throw this away, since the information provided on the form is needed to complete your state tax return for Massachusetts. For more information on what to do about taxes if you accept a paid internship, see Taxes and Paid Internships.

Other States
If you have had a paid internship in a state other than Massachusetts, you may have to file a state tax return for that state.  You'll need to fill out the state tax form for the state(s) in which you worked. You should complete the state tax return yourself and mail it to the address listed.  However, you should probably go to one of the tax sessions at UMass, since the volunteers there can help you complete your state tax return.  For more information on what to do about taxes if you accept a paid internship, see Taxes and Paid Internships.

Students Who Are Studying Abroad

If you are studying abroad, you still need to file a federal income tax return (and perhaps a state tax return as well, if you had an paid internship during the previous summer). Please see above for information about state tax returns.  Pay close attention to the email you will receive in February, since it will explain how you will be able to use the online Glacier Tax Preparation Program (GTP) as well.  

After you complete the return online, you should print out TWO COPIES of your tax documents and MAIL ONE COPY.  Details about where to mail your return will be on the instruction sheet included with your printouts.  We recommend that you send the tax return using registered mail. This way you will have a receipt to prove that you mailed in your tax return just in case it gets lost in the mail. Important: If you cannot file your tax return before the deadline of April 15th, you will need to complete Form 4868, Extension of Time to File, and mail it before April 15th. This will extend the deadline for filing your return to August 15th. Mail one of these forms to the address listed and remember to keep a copy for your records.

If you have any questions at all about filing taxes after carefully reading this web page, please email or make an appointment to see Jenny Medina (jmedina@mtholyoke.edu), Acting Dean of International Students in Spring 2014.