Although cannot provide tax advice, we do want to help you navigate the US tax system. Below, we provide you with tips on where to look for relevant tax preparation information.
IRS Resources Online
The only reliable source of tax information is the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has its own YouTube Channel, where several informational videos for the international taxpayers are combined. If you would like to learn more, please visit the IRS Videos Playlist.
If you would rather read, than watch videos, we suggest you visit this section of the IRS website.
For a more in-depth look at the IRS regulations, Publication 519 will help you determine your status and give you information you will need to file your U.S. tax return. It is a very detailed text and can be overwhelming, but you could start with Commonly Asked Questions to get to the information you seek faster.
IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax preparation for people making under $54,000 per year. There are several locations within 10 miles of Fermilab providing this free service and they operate on a first-come first-serve basis, so plan accordingly and set aside a few hours.
Another free IRS tool is the Interactive Tax Assistant, which covers many common questions.
Commercial Resources Online
We also want to share another resource with you – Tax Tips for Resident and Non-Resident Aliens which explains the IRS’ test to determine your resident vs non-resident status, as well as the difference between resident and non-resident taxes.
Please note, we are not endorsing this or any other tax preparers, but simply want to provide you with some information to help you prepare your tax returns this year.
Glacier Tax Preparation Assistance
As in prior years, we are providing a limited number of *free* licenses for the Glacier Tax Prep software. Please contact the Visa Office to request your access code. This benefit is available ONLY if to the “Nonresident Aliens”. You must determine your Tax Residency Status before contacting the Visa Office to ensure that the limited codes are assigned only to the eligible individuals.
Determining Your Tax Residency Status (from the University of Chicago)
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are considered a ‘non-resident for tax purposes’ unless you meet the criteria for one of the following tests:
You are a ‘resident for tax purposes’ if you were a legal permanent resident of the United States any time during the past calendar year.
You will be considered a ‘resident for tax purposes’ if you meet the Substantial Presence Test for the previous calendar year. To meet this test, you must be physically present in the United States for at least:
- 31 days during the current year, and 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
- All the days you were present in the current year, and
- 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
- 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.
- If total equals 183 days or more = Resident for Tax (***note exception below)
- If total equals 182 days or less = Nonresident for Tax
Confused? Use the Substantial Presence Test Calculator to do the calculations for you. To use the calculator, you must know the number of days you were physically present in the U.S. over the last 3-4 years.
***EXCEPTIONS to the Substantial Presence Test:
- F or J students receive 5 “exempt”** years. Not exempt from tax, but of counting physical days of presence in the U.S. towards Substantial Presence Test. If you have been in the U.S. for fewer than 5 calendar years** (including any previous F-1/F-2/J-1/J-2 statuses at any point), then you are considered a “Nonresident for Tax Purposes.”
- J Non-Students (including Non-Degree Visiting Students) receive 2 “exempt”** years (of the past 6 years).
- “Exempt” years are CALENDAR years, not years from the date of arrival (e.g. if you arrived 9/23/2019, 2019 would be counted as one, total calendar year and you would have four calendar years remaining).