Detailed tax information for international students. For an introduction to taxes for international students, please see: International Student Taxes.
On this page:
- Form 8843
- What is a tax?
- What is a tax treaty?
- What taxes may be taken out of my pay?
- Where can I get help?
- Massachusetts Tax Forms
Form 8843, available through the Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) software, is an informational statement that anyone in the U.S. under the following visa types must file with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service:
This form must be filed annually whether or not you have income in the U.S. and will help the whether or not a tax treaty exists between the U.S. and your home country. If you were hired by UMass Dartmouth, the GLACIER system you used with Payroll would have determined if you should file this form. If you earned income and are filing a U.S. tax return, then Form 8843 should be submitted with your federal tax return.
If you have NO income and are filing ONLY Form 8843, the GTP software will help you complete and print it; you should then sign and mail it by June 15 (later than the due date for income tax returns) to
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-2015
(no street address is needed)
The tax pays for the administration and services of government at the federal, state, or local level. The agency that handles tax procedures and forms is called the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.
The U.S. income tax structure can be very confusing. The amount taken out of an employee's paycheck by the U.S. Government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will differ depending on different variables. These matters are explained further in Publication 519 (US Tax Guide for Aliens) and Publication 901 (Tax Treaties.) If you choose to read the lengthy and complex explanations in these publications, please don't become alarmed or discouraged. There are many resources you can use to help you understand and file your annual income tax paperwork (also called tax returns.)
The United States has income tax treaties with various countries, and if your home country is one of them, you may not be required to have taxes withheld from your paycheck. Since each treaty is independently negotiated, no general rule applies to all. Each treaty article must be looked at individually. Although a tax treaty may exempt you from paying income tax, you are still required to file an income tax return during tax reporting season (from January 1 - April 15th of every year).
If you are employed by the University, when you were processed through Student Employment or the University Payroll system, you received information about tax treaties, Form 8843 and Form 8233, a withholding statement for international visitors. Form 8843 helps the IRS determine whether or not you are eligible for tax treaty benefits. Form 8233 confirms to the IRS that you are exempt from having taxes withheld from your paycheck because of a tax treaty between the U.S. and your home country. The following page on the Human Resources website has a non-resident alien tax compliance link with information about Form 8233:
Additional resources for IRS and Massachusetts State tax questions and forms:
U.S. International Revenue Service (IRS) help page
Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR)
A professional tax service can be helpful if you decide to file an itemized tax return; that is, if you are claiming specific exemptions and deductions on the income tax return rather than just claiming a standard, pre-set, allowance for exemptions and deductions calculated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Hiring such a tax service is a good practice, but please bear in mind that there is no guarantee that the software or the experts take tax treaties into consideration.
The GLACIER and GTP Systems
When you are hired by the University, you will receive instructions about logging into the GLACIER system. You will be asked to enter information about your visa type, your home country, how long you have been in the U.S., and so on. The program will determine what payroll and tax forms you need to complete, including Form 8843, and what document copies (visa, passport) should be submitted with the tax form. GTP is free software that helps you file your tax return paperwork based on your pay and what has been withheld from your pay for taxes.
Please remember that the International Student and Scholar Center staff is NOT qualified to provide any group or individual tax advice or assistance.
The W-2 form is usually mailed by the end of Janaury and has multiple copies with the same information. One copy is sent with your US federal tax return and one is sent when you file your Massachusetts state tax return. Usually there is a taxpayer copy you may keep for your own files. Some people have multiple W-2 forms if they had multiple employers. Some people may have been employed as independent contractors, and in this case you will receive a different income statement, a Form 1099, to be used when filing your tax returns.
Students and scholars who have worked at the University in the calendar year (Jan-Dec) and whose earnings were subject to a tax treaty will receive Form 1042S through the electronic system and software that Student Employment and the Payroll Office use to manage tax treaty information. Usually a tax treaty works to your benefit and saves you some money, because without a tax treaty, you are taxed as if you were a US citizen. If you do not receive a 1042 S, your country may not have a tax treaty with the US or the tax treaty may have expired. The 1042-S is distributed mid-March and must be sent in with your Federal tax returns.
An example of the kind of income that is reported on the Form 1042-S is income received from scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships, when the amount awarded is higher than the amount charged for tuition and fees you pay to the University. Students who have ONLY a TA or RA fee waiver or a scholarship less than their charges will NOT be issued a Form 1042-S.
ALL students receive a from the Bursar's Office if they were enrolled in courses during any part of the year 2012. The forms are distributed in early January. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents use this form when filing their tax returns.
The law requires that anyone living in the state must have health insurance. If you file a Massachusetts income tax form you must submit Form HC 1099 with your filing. The forms are distributed by the end of January. If you do not receive this form and had either the Student Health Insurance, or some other Massachusetts-based health insurance, please get in touch with the health plan directly: http://www.universityhealthplans.com/contact.cgi.
If your health insurance is provided by an out-of-state insurer, you will need to report the name of the company when filing your Massachusetts income tax returns.
The Massachusetts forms cannot be completed using the GTP web-based software that will be available for your federal taxes.
Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR)
The Massachusetts forms require that for the purposes of taxation ONLY, you determine whether you use the Resident or Non-Resident tax form for the Massachusetts filing only.
This is often confusing for international students and scholars, since the word "Resident" has one meaning when talking about immigration status and another meaning when talking about income tax matters. For tax purposes, "Resident" means the number of days you lived (resided) in Massachusetts in 2012. If you spent more than 183 days in Massachusetts, then you should use the "Resident" tax form. Using a "Resident" Massachusetts tax form does not mean you change your immigration status. It means only the amount of time you lived in the state during the year 2012.