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Taxes

Filing taxes can be complicated. OISS and other units on campus are here to help. Filing federal income tax forms is the personal responsibility of each international student and scholar. Individuals are responsible for the accuracy of their income tax returns and any resulting penalties or interest that may be charged. You will need to file both federal and state tax forms. You might also need to file forms or pay city taxes.

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How to File · Get Help · IRS Forms · State & City Taxes · Avoid Scams


All international students, scholars, and dependent family members must file tax forms if they were present in the U.S. for even one day during the calendar year 2021. 

If you were present in the U.S. during the calendar year 2021 but earned no income of any kind from a U.S. source, then you must file the 8843 form. Note that each person in your immediate family (F-2/J-2 spouses and/or children) who was present in the U.S. during 2021 should file an 8843 form as well. 

You must file a tax return if you have you earned any income (even a small amount) in the U.S. during the calendar year 2021. 

Examples include: 

  • Wages for on-campus or off-campus employment 

  • interest/dividends on U.S. investments 

  • independent contractor income 

  • scholarship income 

  • free housing and other non-wage contributions 

You must file your federal and state tax forms no later than April 18, 2022.

How to File Your Tax Return

 

Step 1: Find out if you are a non-resident or resident for tax purposes

How you file your taxes depends heavily on whether you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes or a resident for tax purposes. Even if you are not a citizen of the U.S. and are in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status like F-1 or J-1, you might be considered a resident for tax purposes. 

To figure out whether you should file your taxes as a non-resident or resident, use the MSU Law Tax Clinic Worksheet - Status (PDF). 

Questions about the worksheet should be directed to the MSU College of Law Tax Clinic: taxclinic(at)law.msu.edu.

Step 2: Receive income statements from your employer(s)

You should receive one or more of the following statements from your employer(s):

  • W-2 Wage and Tax Statement (mailed in January)
  • 1099 Miscellaneous Income (mailed in January)
  • 1042-S Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding (mailed in February)

You will use the statement(s) you received to fill out your tax forms. Keep the statement(s) safe place so they are easy to find when you need them. 

Step 3: Fill out the forms with professional help

What forms do I need to complete? How do I fill the forms correctly? Where should I send the forms? Take advantage of the free professional tax filing support for international students and scholars on campus. Please go to the sections below based on your tax filing residency status to determine where to go for support. Every year, many international students and scholars receive tax filing help from these resources.

Step 4: Keep copies of all the documents and send the original forms to the IRS

Before sending the forms and statements to the IRS remember to keep copies of all your tax filing documents for your records.

Step 5: File state and city tax forms

Your federal tax forms will help you find out what your adjusted gross income is. Adjusted gross income is your total income minus any deductions that you are eligible for. You will need to know your adjusted gross income to begin filling out state and city tax forms. Learn more about state and city income taxes below. 


Get Help Filing Your Taxes


To figure out whether you should file your taxes as a non-resident or resident, use the MSU College of Law Worksheet-Status (PDF).

Non-Residents for Tax Purposes

The MSU College of Law Tax Clinic usually hosts in-person seminars on Saturdays throughout the tax filing season. As such seminars are unsafe during the pandemic, the Tax Clinic is currently working to set up virtual support for MSU international students and scholars during the tax season. When further details are available, they will be posted at http://taxclinic.law.msu.edu/international.html. Please be on the lookout for further information from OISS and check the website for future updates.  

OISS also purchases licenses for the Glacier Tax Preparation software package and provides them to MSU international students and scholars free of charge! Glacier will help you file your nonresident federal tax returns correctly. OISS is partnering with the Tax Clinic to distribute the codes to people who need them. Request your Glacier code now through MyOISS. We will start distributing codes in mid-February. 

What to have with you while preparing your returns 

  • W-2 form 

  • 1042-S form (not all students receive a 1042-S form. If you are unsure if you are entitled to a 1042-S form, please contact MSU Student Services. Please note these forms are not mailed to students until March and arrive later than the W-2 and other year of the year tax forms.  DO NOT complete you tax returns until you receive this form!) 

  • Copy of 2020 tax returns (if filed) 

  • Your passport and visa 

  • List of US entry and exit dates (Please consult your records. If you need assistance, you can find dates here, select the option for “Need A History Of Your Arrivals & Departures.” Please note this may not list every entry and exit date.) 

  • Glacier software free code from OISS 

Residents for Tax Purposes

MSU Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program at MSU offers free tax preparation to international students and scholars who must file taxes as residents for tax purposes.

Learn more about MSU VITA and schedule an appointment and the location on the MSU VITA website.

MSU Employees

If you work for MSU as a student, scholar, faculty or staff member, the MSU Payroll Office has information to help you understand your general tax obligations. Before using this information, you will need to find out if you are non-resident or resident for tax purposes.

Tax Walk-In Advising

Check back again soon for information about Zoom tax advising provided by the MSU College of Law Tax Clinic! 


IRS Forms, State & City Taxes

 

IRS Websites

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has information on their website for international students and scholars. These webpages are good resources for detailed information about federal taxes. 

IRS Forms for Non-Residents for Tax Purposes

IRS Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return 

IRS Forms for Residents for Tax Purposes

IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return 

State Taxes

Michigan Taxes

The Michigan Department of Treasury website has information and required forms you need to file. They also offer an online form you can use to ask specific information about your tax situation by entering your SSN and last name.  

Michigan Free Tax Help website

If you obtain a free access code from the MSU OISS to use the Glacier Tax Prep software for your federal tax return, Glacier will provide a link for you to purchase access to the Sprintax software, which can assist you with the completion of your state tax returns.  

MSU OISS provides access to Glacier Tax Prep for federal tax returns, but we cannot fund Sprintax access, which costs $34.95. The MSU College of Law does provide free line-by-line instruction on how to correctly complete your state tax returns. Other free resources exist as well. Therefore, in order to complete your state tax returns, you should choose between using the free resources from the Tax Clinic or another source (and doing a little more homework) or paying for Sprintax to complete them more easily. It’s your choice. 

I worked in another state, do I have to file tax forms in that state too?

 

If you worked in another state, you may need to file tax forms in both Michigan and the other state. You will need to learn more about your filing requirements on the tax websites for that state. 

Michigan has tax agreements, called reciprocal agreements, with some states in the Mid-West and on the East Coast. These agreements between two states allow residents of one state to request exemption from tax withholding in the other (reciprocal) state. This can save you the trouble of having to file tax forms in multiple states. 

Learn more about reciprocal agreements on the Turbo Tax website

Learn which states have reciprocal agreements on the Turbo Tax website

Tax Websites for Other States

Here is a list of tax websites for states where MSU international students and scholars commonly work:

State of California Franchise Tax Board

State of Illinois Department of Revenue

State of Indiana Department of Revenue

State of New York Department of Taxation and Finance

State of Virginia Tax

States Without Income Taxes

Seven states do not have an income tax, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Tennessee and New Hampshire tax only dividend and interest income, not earned income. However, if you live in Michigan and you worked in those states, you may have to include the income you earned in those states on your Michigan tax forms. 

City Taxes

City of East Lansing

The City of East Lansing's income tax took effect on January 1, 2019. The following individuals are required to file an individual tax return, form EL-1040, for the City of East Lansing:

  • If you lived in the City during any part of the tax year and had taxable income.
  • If you did not live in the City, but earned more than $600 of taxable income from within City limits.

Learn more about East Lansing city income taxes on the City of East Lansing income tax website.

Income Tax Fact Sheet for Individuals (PDF)

City of Lansing

Lansing has a city income tax requirement. If you live in Lansing, but work in East Lansing, you will need to pay Lansing city income taxes. The deadline to pay Lansing city income taxes is April 30th. 

Learn more about Lansing city income taxes on the City of Lansing income tax website.

Other Cities in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Treasury website has a list of cities in Michigan that have an income tax requirement.

Questions?

Contact the city government directly. 


Avoid IRS/Tax Scams

International students and scholars have reported getting calls from people claiming to be from the IRS. These are scammers, or criminals, who are trying to steal money. The IRS will never call you and ask you to pay over the phone. Do not give your personal information, like your social security number, to these scam callers.

Learn more about scam calls on our Avoid Immigration Scam wepage.