In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
—Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman
This information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified tax professional. The staff of Oberlin College cannot prepare your taxes for you or answer specific questions about your tax obligations. We encourage you to contact an expert tax preparer if you have particular questions about your tax-filing responsibility. Local tax professionals can be found in the phone book or by using online search tools.
Tax documents often refer to F-1 and J-1 international students and scholars as “non-residents,” and we use that term below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to file taxes?
Yes. All non-residents must file one or more tax forms every year they are present in the United States regardless of whether or not they had any income.
Which tax forms do I need to file?
All non-residents need to file form 8843, which is available through Sprintax (see below).
All non-residents at the college who earned U.S. source income in the previous calendar year (January 1 to December 31) need to file one or more of the following forms:
- Federal 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ (available through Sprintax or IRS website);
- Ohio IT 1040 or IT 1040EZ (available through Sprintax or Ohio tax website);
- Ohio SD 100 (available through Ohio tax website); and
- Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) form 37 (exemption) (available through RITA website).
The forms 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ (federal) and forms IT 1040 and IT 1040EZ (state) are for non-residents who earned income in the previous calendar year. The Internal Revenue Service provides information for non-residents . If you earned income in a different state in the previous calendar year, be certain to check the filing requirements for that state.
Even if your employer deducted taxes from your paycheck, you generally are still required to file an income tax return. You may owe additional taxes or be eligible for a refund.
When is my tax return due?
Federal tax forms and Ohio state tax forms must be postmarked no later than April 15, 2020.
What documents do I need to file my taxes?
You will need some or all of the documents noted below pertaining to your visa and your legal status in the United States. The visa-related documents include your passport and your I-20 or DS-2019. The other documents may include your W-2 or 1042-S (available via PRESTO and also sent to your OCMR box), your social security number, your most recent I-94, your financial award letter, and last year’s federal income tax return (if you filed your taxes). In the event that you worked as an independent contractor (e.g., paid employment as a church organist), you might have received a form 1099 from that employer.
If you earned taxable U.S. income in the previous year, you should receive documents in January or February that report the amount and type of income you earned. Documents you may receive include form W-2, 1042-S, and 1099. These documents often arrive in an envelope marked "important tax document." Save them!
Oberlin College forms W-2 and 1042-S are available by January 31, 2020. If you are a student employee, look for your W-2 form on PRESTO or in your OCMR box. All international students: look for Form 1042-S in your OCMR box, but not on PRESTO. Once again: the college sends you a W-2 form to indicate your income from your on-campus employment. The 1042-S is used to report taxable scholarship income. Not all scholarship income is taxable. For questions about your W-2, contact payroll, email@example.com. For questions about your 1042-S, contact Kim Wiggerly, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I file my taxes?
In previous years, students have found it quite helpful to use Sprintax to complete their federal and state returns. This web-based application allows you to enter the necessary information, print and sign completed forms, and submit them via US mail by the April 15, 2020, deadline. This software is provided to you by Oberlin for your convenience. You are not required to use it if you do not wish to do so. You are free to file your taxes by yourself, or hire professional for assistance.
We have been advised that non-residents are exempt from filing taxes by the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA). Still, we recommend that you file a RITA form 37 exemption in order to avoid receiving a tax notice from RITA. That form can be downloaded from the links at the bottom of the page.
What is Sprintax?
Sprintax is a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for foreign students and scholars to aid their preparation of U.S. federal and state income tax forms, and the recommended option for students at Oberlin College filing state taxes.
What if I need help?
- For questions about Sprintax: watch the video tutorial, use the chat system, call 1.866.601.5695, or email email@example.com.
- For questions about the 1040 NR or 1040 NR-EZ: call the Internal Revenue Service at 1.800.829.1040.
- For questions about form IT 1040 or SD 100: call the Ohio Department of Taxation at 1.800.282.1780 or complete the online form .
- For questions regarding the RITA form 37: call RITA at 1-800-860-7482.
- For general help understanding the questions and instructions provided by the software, attend a workshop hosted by the ISRC. Check your email for information on workshop dates this semester.
What if I want someone to prepare my taxes for me?
You can find trained tax preparers by searching “tax preparation” in online directories, or seek professional assistance from local tax accountants. Be certain to inquire whether the accountant has experience with F-1 or J-1 non-immigrants. As noted above: tax preparation is a specialized skill, the International Student Resource Center cannot do your taxes for you, answer individual tax questions, or tell you whether you’ve done it “right.”
What if someone from the IRS reaches me by phone to ask for payment immediately?
Tax scams often target international students. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS who uses threatening language and demands immediate payment, it’s almost certainly a scam . Report suspicious phone calls to Oberlin College Office of Safety and Security (440-775-8444) and the International Student Resource Center.
For more information visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) page with Tax Information For Foreign Students and Scholars.
Sprintax is a federal and state tax preparation software for non-residents. The software allows you to file your 8843 and federal documents at no charge to you. There is a fee of $25.95 to use the software for your Ohio state IT 1040 form. The software does not assist with the Ohio SD 100 form or RITA form 37 exemption. To receive your free filing, use the code available in the e-mail sent to you. The software guides you through the completion and submission of the forms.
Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) form 37 exemption : Non-residents do not file a RITA tax return, but we recommend that you complete a form 37 exemption to avoid receiving a tax notice. Circle #1 "I had NO TAXABLE INCOME for the entire year" and in your mailing include photocopies of: your passport, your visa, and your 1040NR or 8843.
If you had no U.S. source income in the past calendar year (i.e., January through December), and you would prefer to complete the form without the assistance of Sprintax, you may file the form 8843 by yourself. The form title indicates, “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition ”: this form is appropriate for you since you are regarded as an “exempt individual.”
You do not need a medical condition to use this form.
If you would like to complete the federal or state returns without assistance from Sprintax, you can find the forms below:
- Internal Revenue Service : 1040 NR or 1040 NR EZ and 8843
- Ohio Department of Taxation : IT1040 and SD100
Follow the instructions, photocopy all forms for your records, and mail the original forms by the deadlines to the appropriate addresses.