Nonresident Alien Taxation FAQs

The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the U.S. government tax authority, has issued strict regulations regarding the taxation and reporting of payments made to non-United States citizens. As a result, payments made to you may be subject to U.S. income tax and reporting. GLACIER manages tax compliance on payments made to foreign nationals.

If you do not complete the information in GLACIER and/or submit the required forms and documents in a timely fashion, the maximum amount of tax will be withheld from all payments made to you. To find out where to submit your forms, please refer to the instruction page that printed with your forms and you will find the name of the person and the address; please DO NOT send your forms to the GLACIER Support Center.

“U.S. Tax Status” is used to determine which tax system applies to an individual – and thus, which tax returns are applicable and how that tax return must be completed. An individual’s U.S. tax status is different from one’s immigration status; however, many of the terms used for immigration issues are similar to those used for tax purposes. For U.S. tax purposes, there are four U.S. Tax Statuses: U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident Alien, Resident Alien for Tax purposes, and Nonresident Alien for Tax purposes. 

A Resident Alien for Tax purposes is treated in the same manner as a U.S. citizen when filing a tax return and paying taxes. A Nonresident Alien for Tax purposes has a completely different method of having tax withheld, completing tax forms and tax documents, and is eligible for very few and limited deductions and allowances when paying taxes. A Resident Alien for Tax purposes must report ALL income from ALL sources, regardless of whether from the U.S. or foreign payors, whereas, a Nonresident Alien for Tax purposes must only report and pay tax on money that he or she receives from U.S. sources. 

The time period for which you are a Nonresident Alien for Tax purposes depends on the results of what is called the “Substantial Presence Test.” In general, individuals present in the U.S. under an F, J, M, or Q STUDENT immigration status will be a Nonresident Alien for the first FIVE calendar years they are present in the U.S.; individuals present in the U.S. under a J or Q NON-STUDENT immigration status will be a Nonresident Alien for the first TWO calendar years they are present in the U.S. There are many exceptions to the general rule so further questions must consider the facts and circumstances of the particular individual’s current and past visits to the U.S.  “Substantial Presence Test” is a numerical formula which measures days of presence in the United States. Please proceed to the "NRA or RA" section to get an idea of how your days of presence in the United States are counted. 

International students and scholars who are present in the United States are required to pay tax and file an income tax return, both at federal and at state level. “Federal” refers to the US government and taxes are collected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax payers may also be required to pay tax in the state where they live or work. Please proceed to the "Tax Filing" page for more details. 

UMass is offering access to GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP), 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. GTP can be used to file your federal tax return ONLY (no State returns). Please proceed to the "GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP)" page for more details.  

Resident aliens will not be able to use GTP and will have to find alternative means to file their taxes. For U.S citizens and Resident Aliens, IRS offers Free File Software Lookup Tool

If you were an employee and received wages subject to U.S. income tax withholding, file Form 1040NR by the 15th day of the 4th month after your tax year ends. The filing deadline for your 2020 personal tax return is indeed April 152021. If you had no US income and are only filing IRS Form 8843, the deadline is June 15. The deadline refers to the date the envelope is postmarked by the post office.

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. 

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.  

The requirement to file a federal tax return is based on receiving income from U.S. sources – not on receiving “money.” Income can include, but is not limited to: wages, salary, free housing, travel to/from a conference, scholarship, stipend, per diem, prize, award, gambling winnings – income does not have to be paid to you as a check or cash. Generally, if you did not receive any income from U.S. Sources, you are not required to file a U.S. tax return; however, if you are a Nonresident Alien who is present in the U.S. under an F, J, M or Q immigration status, you are required to file Form 8843, regardless of whether or not you have received any income.

Nonresident Aliens are not required to report or pay tax on money that they received from sources outside the U.S. If you remain in the U.S. long enough to become a Resident Alien for Tax purposes, then income from ALL sources (both U.S. and foreign) must be reported on the U.S. tax return.

Any individual who works in the U.S. as an employee is required to apply for an SSN; if an individual does not work as an employee, he or she cannot apply for an SSN. Any individual who receives income from U.S. sources must file a tax return and everyone who is required to file a tax return must have either an SSN or ITIN. 

Nonresident aliens who did not receive any income and is filing Form 8843 by itself needs not apply for a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If, however, an SSN/ITIN has been assigned, the number must be included on Form 8843. An exception to this rule is for individuals who are eligible to be claimed as dependents on a U.S. income tax return. Such individuals must have an SSN/ITIN. 

Yes, anyone in F or J status present in the U.S. and a nonresident for tax purposes are required to complete a tax form. If your F-2 or J-2 dependent did not earn any income, they would be required to fill out the Form 8843. J-2 dependents who received an EAD, and earned an income, may be required to complete additional tax forms.

No, if your child is a US citizen and did not earn any income, no tax forms need to be completed.

Some of the forms you may receive from UMass, your employer or other sources are: 1042-S, W-2, 1099-INT, 1099-MISC, 1098-T. For more information about the specific forms, see Tax Forms.

Do not complete your tax return until you have received all of your forms. If you believe that you should have received a Form W-2 or Form 1042-S and you have not yet received such form, you must contact the institution that made payments to you and request the form. Generally, Forms W-2 are issued by the Payroll Department; generally Forms 1042-S are issued by the Tax or Payroll Department. If the form was sent to the wrong address, the institution will provide you with a new copy of the form. You should NOT complete your tax return until you have ALL of your forms; do so, may mean that you will file an incomplete and incorrect tax return.

As a Nonresident Alien for Tax PurposesU.S. tax law requires that you be taxed in the following manner:

  • If you receive Dependent Compensation (salary or wages), you are generally required to complete Form W-4 as “Single” (regardless of your actual marital status) and “One” Personal Withholding Allowance (regardless of your actual number of dependents). Certain countries may have an exception to this requirement.
  • If you receive a Scholarship or Fellowship (for which NO services are required), your scholarship or fellowship may consist of Nontaxable items (Tuition, Book Allowance, Required Registration Fees, and Mandatory Health Insurance) or Taxable items (including, but are not limited to, Room and Board, Stipend, Living Allowance, Travel Payment/Reimbursement). If you are present in the U.S. under an F, J, M, or Q immigration status, the applicable rate of tax withholding is 14 percent; if you are present in the U.S. under any other immigration status, the applicable rate of tax withholding is 30 percent.
  • If you receive an Honorarium, Guest Speaker Fee, Consultant Fees, Royalty, or any other type of income, the applicable rate of tax withholding is 30 percent.

The U.S. maintains income tax treaties with approximately 68 countries. Certain taxable payments made to you may be exempt from U.S. tax based on an income tax treaty entered into between the U.S. and your country of tax residence. The existence of a tax treaty does not automatically ensure an exemption from tax withholding; rather, you must satisfy the requirements for the exemption set forth in the tax treaty and provide all applicable forms and documents to the Institution Administrator. If you qualify for a tax treaty exemption, you must complete and submit Form W-8BEN (for all non-service scholarships and fellowships, or royalty payments) and/or Form 8233 (for all compensation or payments for services).