Who Must File a Tax Return?

All non-immigrant international students and scholars who were present in the US during any part of the calendar year are responsible for filing a tax report to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by April 15 of each year.

Filing a tax return is required whether or not you worked in the US, gained income in the US, or received a scholarship during the year. The good news is that if you earned income in the US, you may be eligible for a tax refund if you overpaid or a complete reimbursement based on tax treaties.

Finding resources to help you file your tax return can be complicated. Unless a person has received training from the IRS to give tax advice, it is against the law to do so. The International Student Advisor is not allowed to advise on tax matters.

Tax Forms

The W-2 form is also known as a Wage and Tax Statement. If you were employed in the US for any period of time during the previous year, each employer for whom you worked is required to report your earnings to both you and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). By law, employers must mail W-2s no later than January 31. If you worked during the previous year, whether off campus or on-campus, and have not received your form W-2 by February 1, contact your former employer right away. It's possible they do not have your current address. You will be required to include a copy of each W-2 form with your federal and state income tax forms. The IRS computer system will match the income you report with what they have received from the employer.

Different kinds of taxes are withheld by employers. The W-2 form has boxes for reporting withholding of Federal Income Tax (box 2), Social Security Tax (box 4), Medicare Tax (box 6), State Income Tax (box 17) and local income tax (box 19). Some individuals who received form W-2 will find that all of these boxes have amounts in them, others will find only some or none of the boxes showing tax withheld.

Form 1042-S is used to report income paid to a non-resident regardless of whether the payment is taxable. The form has a number of purposes. It can be used to report wages exempt under a tax treaty, wages earned as an employee of the college, and scholarship or fellowship grants. By law, 1042-S forms must be issued by March 15. Some international students receive both form 1042-S and form W-2, some students will receive only form W-2.

International Tax Preparation

In an effort to assist students and scholars with tax concerns, the International Student Advisor is hosting access to Sprintax -- a web-based tax return preparation system designed exclusively for international students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and their dependents who had non-resident status in the US during the calendar year.


  • helps you finish your tax return in about 20 minutes
  • guides you step-by-step in completing your tax return
  • determines the correct tax forms you need to fill out
  • allows you to complete your tax return from abroad if necessary
  • addresses fellowships and tax treaties
  • instructs you in printing and mailing tax forms to the IRS
  • offers phone and email support
  • helps you apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if necessary
  • is available at NO COST to eligible students and scholars

Eligibility for Sprintax

F-1 non-immigrant students enrolled at Gettysburg are eligible to use the Sprintax program. The International Student Advisor will contact you well in advance of tax time so that you are aware of what you need to do.