Skip to main content

Payments to Non-Resident Aliens: Tax Filing Information

All international students and scholars (and associated dependents where applicable) must file the appropriate Federal and Alabama State income tax forms each year in compliance with Federal and State Income tax laws.

The information here is provided as an overview and may not reflect changes, additions or other modifications applicable to filing income taxes at the federal and state levels. Each individual student and scholar is responsible for ensuring that they have secured and verified the information appropriate and relevant to their individual and family circumstances for Federal and State of Alabama income tax purposes.

FAILURE TO FILE THE APPROPRIATE FEDERAL AND STATE INCOME TAX RETURNS MAY CAUSE YOU TO LOSE FUTURE IMMIGRATION BENEFITS and may subject you to additional penalties including but not limited to fines and collections fees.



Neither the Office of International Programs or Tax Compliance is able to accept any walk in, e-mail or phone-in questions requesting tax advice.

General tax questions not covered here can be e-mailed to

Federal Tax Returns

IRS Publication 519 is the official US tax guide for Aliens. Federal tax forms and other publications can be accessed via

You have several options available to assist you in filing your federal and state returns.

For a small fee, tax preparation software such as Sprintax and Glacier can be chosen to assist you in filing your non-resident returns for federal and state.

Most other software does not file the NR version of 1040.

You may also go directly to the IRS website at and search for the 1040NR and 8843.

If you use a tax filing service, please make sure that you advise them you need a non- resident return filed.

If you have been informed by Tax Compliance that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes you will need to file your federal return like a U.S.  Citizen.

What Forms Will You Need?

The following is a general list of tax forms that you will need for filing your federal and state tax returns. It is not intended to be all inclusive. Tax forms that are required can vary from individual to individual.

Form W-2

If you worked as an employee at Auburn University you will receive tax form W-2. W-2’s are mailed to employees by January 31 following the end of the tax year. Active employees can also access their W-2’s online thru Self-Service Banner.

Instructions for accessing your W-2 Online:

  1. Login to AU Access using your personal User name and password
  2. Click on the orange Employee Services Tab
  3. Click on Self Service Banner
  4. Click on Tax Forms
  5. Click on W2 wages and Tax Statement
  6. Enter the last six digits of your social security number (no dashes)
  7. Click display
  8. Click print

If you are a terminated employee and you did not receive your W-2 you must complete a REQUEST FOR REISSUED IRS FORM W-2.

Form 1042-S

Form 1042-S is issued only for those employees who received a federal tax exemption under the provisions of a tax treaty. If you did not receive an exemption then you will not receive a 1042-S.

Generally, for those individuals that are employed at Auburn University, the 1042-S tax form and Form W-2 are mailed at the same time.

Form 1042-S may also be received by those individuals who had federal taxes withheld on a non-qualified scholarship, travel grant, and/or a prize or award.

State Tax Returns

The State of Alabama has different tax laws than those of the federal government. Please refer to the State of Alabama Department of Revenue’s website for instructions and information concerning your State of AL return.

The state of Alabama also has a local taxpayer service center that you may contact with questions concerning your state return.

Please note: For transfer students that may have earned income in another state, you will need to check with that state’s Department of Revenue site for your state filing obligations in that state.

Important Information
  • Sign and date all returns and remember to attach a check if you owe money
  • Make photocopies of all your returns before mailing
  • Choose Direct Deposit if you are getting a refund
  • If you choose to receive a check in the mail versus a direct deposit, your mailing address must be current and legible (i.e. apartment number, street number and zip code); otherwise your check will be returned to the IRS
  • If you are having problems with obtaining your refund please go to the IRS website and click on “Where’s my refund?”
Frequently Asked Questions

How is my tax status determined?

When you receive a payment from Auburn University or AUM you will be asked to fill out an intake form and create a FNIS account. The information you provide will assist our office in performing the substantial presence test and determining your tax status. This ultimately determines what taxes you are required to pay and at what tax rate or calculation.

A lawful permanent resident is a US resident for federal tax purposes.

Federal tax status is different than immigration status, but is determined based on your prior and past immigration history to the USA.

The Substantial Presence Test is a calculation of

All the days present in the current year

+1/3 of days present in US during first preceding calendar year

+1/6 of the days present in the US during the 2nd preceding calendar year

= Total days present for substantial presence test.

If the total days is 183 or more the person is a Resident Alien for federal tax purposes. If the total is 182 or fewer the person is a Non-Resident Alien for federal tax purposes.

There are specific rules about what visa types are exempt from counting days under the substantial presence test. The rules operate no matter if the individual is the primary or dependent visa holder. For example, F1 and J1 students count zero days for five tax years… There are additional rules for each type of immigration status.

Additional information and details can be found in Publication 519 at

Am I exempt from FICA and Medicare Tax?

There are two sections of the code that you can review to see if you are exempt from FICA and Medicare Tax.

  1. 3121(b)(19) to be exempt under this section you must be:
    1. A non resident alien under the substantial presence test
    2. Present in the USA in F, J, M or Q immigration status
    3. Performing services in accordance with the primary purpose of the visa and be the primary holder of the status (-1)
  2. 3121 (b) (10)-otherwise known as the “Student FICA exception”
    This exception generally provides that a student who works for the school which they are enrolled and regularly attends classes is exempt from FICA and Medicare.

The most common case of an F1/J1 student paying FICA/Medicare is at the start of their 6th year in the USA and are now on Academic Training or OPT. Since you are no longer enrolled in classes, you are subject to FICA/Medicare withholdings. These taxes are paid based on a percentage set by the IRS. These are mandatory taxes and are not refunded.

What is a tax treaty, am I eligible and where can I find additional information about tax treaties?

An income tax treaty is a bi-lateral agreement between the governments of two countries under which Each country mutually agrees to limit or modify its tax regulations to avoid double taxation of income. In other words this is to assist being taxed on the same income in two countries.

Determining if an individual qualifies for a tax treaty depends on a variety of facts and can be complex. Auburn University uses its Foreign National Information Form and FNIS to gather the necessary information to determine if an individual is eligible based on the treaty and the type of income being paid to the individual.

Publication 901 on the IRS website is an excellent resource; however the publication does not contain all the details on determining whether one is eligible for a tax treaty benefit. Auburn University will make a determination based on the information you provide and the qualifications in the tax treaty. If you qualify we will send you the appropriate tax form for you to complete which could be an 8233, W8 BEN or both.

If Auburn University determine you do not qualify for a tax treaty and you think that you do, you can still claim tax treaty benefits on your tax return and see if the IRS will allow you to take the benefit.

Sometimes, depending on the time of year you are hired you may be eligible to receive treaty benefits, but There is not enough time to process the paperwork for that calendar year or you may not reach the amount allowed to be exempt from federal tax. If you don’t receive tax treaty benefits you qualify for you will NOT receive a 1042s and you can file for your tax treaty on your tax return. When the software asks if you have a 1042s answer no and the software will take the treaty exemption for you. If timing does not allow you to receive the entire tax treaty benefit, you will receive a 1042-S for the amount that was exempt and the software will claim the remaining benefit for you.

Either way, the IRS is the final decision maker on whether you qualify for a tax treaty or not. If you receive a treaty facilitated by AU or file a tax return and claim the tax treaty, the IRS ultimately decides if you qualify based on the information you provide them.

I have been advised I will change status to resident alien in the upcoming tax year, how do I file my taxes?

Remember, we file our taxes in the year after the tax year ends on Dec 31. If your tax status does not change until the upcoming year, you will still need to file your taxes according to your status in that tax year. For example, you are a non -resident alien in 2022, you have been advised by our office that you will become a resident alien in 2023. When you are filing taxes in 2023 for tax year 2022 you will file for the status you were in 2022.

I am no longer in the USA do I still need to file taxes?

If you had US taxable income in a calendar year, you will still need to file a tax return from wherever you are living in the world. Please make sure you change your mailing address if you leave before tax forms are sent to ensure delivery.

Can I claim my dependents on my non- resident federal tax return?

Generally, no, however there are a few exceptions under the tax law. The tax software will walk you through this scenario and if allowable will assist you with this.

What if I filed the wrong tax return in the past, how do I rectify it?

You will need to file an amended return for that year. Sprintax can assist you in filing amended returns or you can complete an amended return. You can find the forms at but make sure you select the correct tax year.

  1. Enter your name, address, and social security number (SSN) or IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) on the front of Form 1040X.
  2. Do not enter any other information on page 1. Also, do not complete Parts I or II on page 2 of Form 1040X.
  3. Enter in Part III the reason why you are filing Form 1040X.
  4. Complete a new or corrected return (Form 1040, Form 1040NR, etc.).
  5. Across the top of the new or corrected return, write “Amended.”
  6. Attach the new or corrected return to the back of Form 1040X.

If I filed the wrong return, what are the possible implications?

The IRS may receive a form or information to indicate you are not a resident alien for federal tax purposes. They could certainly send a letter asking you to clarify your tax status. If you filed the wrong return, you may owe any tax due, plus a penalty and interest. Additionally, certain immigration statuses ask if you have filed the correct tax returns. If you have not, it may delay or stop your change in status.

Do I need to file a return if I earned no income in the US in the tax year that we are filing for?

If you are an individual in F, J, M or Q status, and earned no US income in the tax filing year, you are still required to report your days of presence in the US. You will need to file form 8843. You can find Form 8843 and instructions on how to complete and mail on the IRS website.

I do not qualify for a U.S. Social Security Number. How do I apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)?

You will need to complete form W-7 and mail it with your tax return. Instructions for completing form W-7, attachments that are required, and instructions on where to mail can be found on the IRS website.

My spouse is a US Citizen, permanent resident or resident alien for federal tax purposes. Can we file a joint federal return?

Yes, you may elect to file a joint federal return even if you are a non-resident alien for federal tax purposes.

I received a 1098-T; what do I do with it?

Non-resident aliens do not use form 1098-T. 1098-Ts can be accessed in Tiger i. If you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you can find additional information in Publication 970 on the IRS website.