Unfortunately, OISS is not able to assist with tax advice or filing in any way. Scholars and students are fully responsible for filing their own taxes. We understand that it can seem confusing, so we have gathered a few resources below, to get you started.

If you earned an income from any source between January 1 and December 31 of any given year, you must file both Federal and State income tax returns.

If you did not earn an income, you are still required to file the Form 8843. This form is not an income tax return but an informational statement required by the U.S. government. More information can be found on page 3-4 of the form.

If you earned income in the U.S. in 2018 you must file tax returns by April 15, 2019 (or file a formal extension to file taxes later in the year).

Government Websites
Federal taxes are collected by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS website has a page specifically for international students and scholars here. This site is very comprehensive. Most people prepare their Federal Tax return first, since you will need information from you return to complete your State return.

The State of California Franchise Tax Board website has instructions and forms for filing State income tax returns.

Tax Preparation Software
-- Sprintax is a web-based tax tool (affiliated with TurboTax) tailored specifically for non-resident students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and other international education visitors with visa types F, H, J, L, M, Q and green card immigration status.

Sprintax guides the user through each part of the tax return process and applies all relevant tax treaties and credits available to international students and scholars. You can create an account for free. There is a fee to file your taxes. UCSB students & scholars may use the following discount code to receive $5.00 of their Federal filing fees: Spx2018UCSBF5

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I file my tax return? What forms should I have before filing?
The deadline for the IRS to receive your tax return is April 15, 2019. You should have the following forms and information available when preparing to file:

• Visa/Immigration Status information
• Passport
• Form DS-2019, if J status
• Form I-20, if F status
• Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), if you have been assigned one
• Address information (Current U.S. and Foreign Address)
• U.S. Entry and Exit Dates for the current and past visits to the U.S.
• Forms W-2, 1042-S**, and/or 1099, if you received any
• Scholarship/fellowship grant letter, if you received any
• Copy of your 2012 federal income tax return, if you filed a federal income tax return last year
• Bank account number and routing number, or check, for direct deposit

I did not earn any income last year. Am I still required to file taxes?
While you are not required to file taxes, you are still required to file a Form 8843. All nonresident aliens who are present in the U.S. under F, J, M, or Q I-94 statuses at any point in the tax year are required to file this form. Form 8843 is not an income tax return but an informational statement required by the U.S. government. More information can be found on page 3-4 of the form.

However, if you are a nonresident who has earned income, you will file the Form 8843 in addition to Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR.

How do I know if I am a resident or nonresident for tax purposes?
If you choose to use Sprintax, Step 1 of the online questionnaire will determine whether you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes. If you do not use Sprintax, you will need to seek advice from a tax professional on your own.  OISS does not provide tax advice as we are not trained Certified Public Accountants (CPA). 

If I’m a resident for tax purposes, I cannot use Sprintax. What other options do I have?
You could use an online tax preparation software, such as TurboTax or TaxAct. You can also visit the UCSB VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site for free assistance. Please make sure to bring your prior year’s tax return (if you have one) and ALL income tax forms.

Is there someone at OISS I can speak with regarding my taxes?
Sorry, no. OISS staff is not trained or certified to provide tax assistance and/or guarantee the accuracy of tax filling.

If you have additional questions regarding your specific situation, we recommend contacting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at (800) 829-1040. You may also contact the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) for questions about state taxes at (800) 852-5711.