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Income Tax Regulations

Does it apply to me?

YES! All F-1 and J-1 visa holders are required to complete and send at least one tax form to the Internal Revenue Service each year (whether or not you earned income in the U.S.)April 15 is the deadline by which you need to send your tax form(s) each year that you are studying in the U.S. 

I don't know what to do

To help JMU’s I-20 or DS-2019 students (only) with completing and sending tax forms, the International Student & Scholar Services office is hosting a number of tax workshops in February through April. Please check out the events page for details or contact Thomas Lavenir.

During one of these workshops you will need to bring the following:

  • Any letter/mail you will have received in your mailbox which stipulate TAX INFORMATION on the envelope (such as your W-2 or 1042-S form if you worked or earned a scholarship from JMU)
  • Your passport
  • Your I-20
  • Any previous tax documents (such as photocopies of tax forms you completed in the past)

If you have not received a W-2 or 1042-S from a US institution by mid February:

  • If you worked for JMU or received a scholarship from JMU: Go to the Payroll Office's webpage and follow the instructions
  • If you worked for Aramark (dining services): Access the W-2 eXpress website: You will first need to enter the Employer Name (or code which is 12323) and then, for security reasons, you will be asked to change your password each time you log in. Once you do so, you will be able to print a copy of your W-2,

Can I complete taxes on my own?

Yes you can!

  1. If you have NOT been working in 2015, you need to complete the 8843 form. To guide through this process, open this powerpoint document which will walk through the whole process step by step.
  2. If you worked and/or received a scholarship (or received a W-2 form and/or a 1042-S form) you will need to use the sprintax software. To guide through this process, open this powerpoint document which will walk through the major steps.

If you are not sure how to answer a question or how complete the form, you will need to attend one of the workshops (no assistance will be provided outside  of the tax workshops).

How do US taxes work?

U.S. payroll taxes work as follows:

  • Each time an individual employee accepts employment, s/he must tell the employer how much money to withhold from his/her regular paychecks to be put into an account towards the income taxes s/he will owe in April. This is done by filling out a W-4 and VA-4 form indicating the number of dependents or exemptions that person will be able to claim.
  • Based on that information, the employer withholds a certain amount of income from the employee each month, and sends it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the government agency responsible for tax reporting.  
  • Then, sometime between January and April 15 of each year, the employee files the completed forms with the IRS, indicating how much money they earned in total, the number of dependents, etc.
  • The final total of taxes due is calculated when you file your tax returns. 
  • If the employee has had more withheld from his/her paycheck than s/he owes, the IRS will issue a refund.
  • However, if the employee has not had enough taxes withheld from his/her individual paychecks; s/he must pay the IRS to make up the difference.