Office of International Affairs International Student & Scholar Services

Students, Scholars and U.S. Income Tax

Unlike in tax systems of some countries, students and scholars in the United States are not exempt from taxes.  The tax system of the United States can be very complex and difficult to understand especially for foreign students and scholars.

There are essentially two federal income tax systems in the United States, one for tax residents of the U.S. including citizens, permanent residents, and certain nonimmigrants, and the other for tax nonresidents.  The definition of “residence” for tax purposes and for immigration purposes are not the same and must not be confused.  The first step for foreign students and scholars in the tax process is to determine their tax residence.  Special rules apply to persons in “F,” “J,” “M,” and “Q” immigration status in determining tax residence.  The second step is to determine whether the source of any income is a “U. S. source” or a “foreign source.”  Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 519, “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens,” provides definitions and explanations of these issues.

Individual tax reports are generally due on April 15 of the following calendar year.  If no U.S. wages are received, the due date is June 15.  Tax returns for a particular year cannot be filed before December 31 of that year.  All nonresident alien tax returns and statements are mailed to: Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19255, U.S.A.    

Instructions and forms are available on the IRS webpage at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov .   Please note that failure to properly complete tax reports may constitute a violation of immigration status.

Revised: 7/2007

Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs, MS 5004, 742-2974, fax 742-1286