As required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the United States government agency responsible for the collection of federal income taxes, all non-immigrant students must file a U.S. income tax form regardless of whether or not they have income from sources in the U.S. However, this does not necessarily mean you will have to pay taxes.
Currently the U.S. has tax treaties or agreements with 37 countries and territories under which their citizens may be tax exempt from all or part of their U.S. income.
To see if your country is among these and how a treaty may affect your tax status, request IRS Publication #901 "U.S. Tax Treaties", or check with your consulate. Further information may be obtained free of charge from the Internal Revenue Service.
*Students who are not employed in the U.S. must obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and file forms. Check with International Student Services for the appropriate forms.
*If you have income from sources in the United States during any tax year, you must file a U.S. income tax return. For this, you must include a Social Security number not the I.D. number assigned by the school. You are required to pay federal, state and local taxes.
In order to work anywhere you must have a Social Security number. A Social Security number may be obtained by taking your passport, I-94, and I-20 plus proof of employment to any Social Security Office. See the International Student Services office for locations.
Students on F-1/J-1 visas who have permission to work are not subject to withholding of social security, part of the Federal Insurance Contribution Act tax (FICA). If social security has been withheld, ask your employer for a refund. If you are unable to obtain a refund in this way, file a claim on Form 843 with the Internal Revenue Office.
Reminder! A social security number is not permission to accept employment. It is used to keep track of taxes.