Tax Information

General Information

In general, international students and scholars in nonimmigrant visa classifications must pay city, state and federal taxes if employed by Southeastern Louisiana University. However, in certain instances they may be exempted because of tax treaties between the United States and their home countries, or if their employment can be considered a fellowship, as defined by the IRS.

Tax determinations are complex and do not always follow the categories of immigration law. Depending on the particular circumstances, an international student or scholar in F-1 or J-1 status could be considered a "nonresident alien for tax purposes"; under other circumstances, the same nonimmigrant could be considered a "resident alien for tax purposes." Most F-1 and J-1 students are considered to be nonresidents for taxation purposes during their first five years of presence in the US. J-1 scholars are considered to be non-residents for taxation purposes during their first two years of presence in the US. It is important to note that these are calendar years, so if you arrive at any point in a year, even on December 30, that will count as the first year of presence.

In addition, students in F-1 and J-1 status do not pay US Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes for the first five calendar years of presence in the US. Scholars in J-1 status are exempt from FICA for the first two calendar years of presence in the US. After that point, they become resident taxpayers and are subject to FICA withholdings. Holders of H-1B status are subject to FICA withholdings, and are generally considered to be tax residents after their first six months of presence in the US.

Filing State and Federal Taxes

Who must file tax forms for the 2022 tax season?

Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the US on F or J status anytime between 1 January – 31 December 2022, you're obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities).

Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

Tax Filing Deadline

April 18, 2022 is the last day for residents and nonresidents who earned income in the US to file Federal tax returns for the 2021 tax year.

Who is considered  Resident or Nonresident for Federal Tax Purposes?

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. International students on J-1 & F-1 visas are automatically considered nonresident for their first five calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the five or two year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

How to file

Sprintax is a service (not affiliiated with Southeastern) that will provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the US. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you login to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities.

However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using the software.

For information on how to file, please see this Step by Step Guide.


Taxable Scholarships

International students who receive certain taxable scholarships have 14% withheld for each disbursement of funding each semester in accordance with IRS policy. Students in this category will receive a Form 1042-S that reports the withholding to file with their taxes each year.

Tax Treaties

In certain instances, you may be exempt from paying some or all federal taxes because of a tax treaty between the U.S. and your home country. Federal tax treaties have no effect on state tax laws. Time limits, amount of exemption and non-immigrant status determines your benefits.

To see if your country has a tax treaty with the U.S., please consult Publication 901 of the Internal Revenue Service. You may also want to contact the ISO for further information.