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Chau Mai's picture

How to File Your Taxes as An International Student

Even though the April 18 filing deadline is approaching, many of my international friends still haven't prepared for this at all. Here was how our conversations went.

Question: "Are you an international student at UofM? Were you enrolled for classes last year? Have you filed your 2016 tax yet?"

Answer: "Not yet. But I don’t work and thus have no Social Security Number, should or should I not file my taxes? If yes, how can do that?"

Or: "Hmm... I will do it later. The process seems to be very confusing. I heard you have to prepare so many forms. Where should I start?"

Soooo many questions can be asked during this tax season! And let’s admit it - filing taxes might sound very complicated and time-consuming to some international students, especially if you have never filed taxes before. But it's very important and also beneficial for you to file taxes. At the end of the filing procedure, you will likely to receive a refund (called "tax returns") which was withheld from your earnings, if you have in income in 2016. But don’t stress out too much, because ISSS has the tools needed to help you throughout process.

The contents of the particular blog do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the the writer or students mentioned in the blog. The blog provides general information, which may or may not be correct, complete or current at the time of reading. The content is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice or opinions but to present the importance of filing tax to international students. For detailed instruction about filing your tax, please visit this website:https://isss.umn.edu/taxes/


Because of the significantly important details included in each step of this procedure, I think it’s most helpful to direct you to the source of these information, instead of giving you a shortcut (and I am not a tax expert!). Below are the key websites that provide step-by-step instructions to UofM international students on how to file taxes, provided by ISSS.

What you need:

  1. An ID number for the taxpayer, spouse & any dependents claimed on the return
  2. A Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  3. Your passport & visa numbers
  4. Income statements - Forms W-2 for wages
  5. Forms 1099 for interest & dividends, if you have
  6. Form 1042-S for scholarships & treaty income
  7. Certificate of Rent Paid from your landlord
  8. Last year’s return if you filed one

This may seem like filing a tax return is very difficult but with the help of ISSS is the total opposite!

Some resources that may help:

All of the information above can also be found at the Taxes Section on ISSS website: https://isss.umn.edu/taxes/

Happy Tax Season!

- Chau