All residents and non-residents are required to complete a tax return if you were present in the U.S. during the tax year, whether or not you earned income. The International House staff cannot offer personal assistance beyond information below. We encourage you to seek advice from the Internal Revenue Service, or a qualified tax professional.
To file your federal tax return, the first step you should do is to determine your residency status, which can be different from your immigration status. Use two tests: (1) the “green card” test, and (2) the “substantial presence” test, a formula which counts the number of days you were present in the U.S. during the tax year.
If in 2016 you received permanent resident status, or more commonly known as “green card” from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, you are a resident for tax purposes. You will be taxed like a U.S. citizen.
F or J Student
If you are in the U.S. in an F or J student status, you are exempt from the “substantial presence” test for five calendar years. Beyond five years, you are likely to be considered a resident who can complete tax forms like a U.S. citizen.
J Scholar or Researcher
If you are in the U.S. in a J scholar status, you are exempt from the “substantial presence” test for two calendar years. Beyond two years, you are likely to be considered a resident who can complete tax forms like a U.S. citizen.
H, TN, or O Status
If you are in the U.S. in an H, TN, or O status, you need to apply the “substantial presence” test.
Substantial Presence Test
You should count:
(1) the number of days you were present in the U.S. in 2016; and
(2) 1/3 of the days you were present in the U.S. in 2015; and
(3) 1/6 of the days you were present in the U.S. in 2014
If the total is 183 days or more, you are considered a resident for tax purposes.
Taxable versus nontaxable income
The United States does not tax foreign-source income (i.e., scholarship you received from your home government) received by nonresident aliens. Other examples of non-taxable income for nonresident aliens are:
- Interest from a U.S. bank or credit union;
- A scholarship or fellowship that pays your tuition or fees required for your enrollment (a scholarship or fellowship that pays your room and board fees or travel expenses are taxable)
If you did not earn any income or had only non-taxable income from a U.S. source (e.g., a Duke scholarship for tuition, interest from a bank account), you only need to send the completed Form 8843 Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition, April 18, 2017 to: Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301-0215. Please see our guideline to complete the Form 8843 if you are filing the Form 8843 only.
If you earned income from a U.S. source (i.e., working on campus) in 2016, you need to send the completed Form 8843 and Form 1040 NR-EZ, or Form 8843 and Form 1040 NR, by April 18, 2017. Be sure to attach a copy of your W-2, 1042-S, and/or 1099 (if you received any).
IHouse will purchase an institutional license for an online tax preparation software Sprintax. It can prepare federal and state tax returns for you when you enter your information. IHouse will provide one free access code per person with a Duke ID card on first-come first-served basis starting from March 15th. When your federal tax forms are completed through Sprintax, you need to enter the code you received from IHouse. If you want to get your state tax returns completed as well, you will need to pay $25.95.
For more information on State Tax, please go to: https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/ihouse/living-essentials/taxes/state-tax-information