Top Ten Tax Myths

These are the top 10 myths that we hear from international students. Review this page so you know the reality and not just the myth! For more detailed information, review the Frequently Asked Questions page.

1.MYTH: I can file taxes whenever I want during the year.
 REALITY: The U.S. federal tax year begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st. The tax filing deadline is typically April 15th of each year. This date may change depending on the dates for any official, observed holidays. You should not file your tax return until you have received all forms associated with your taxable income (i.e. Form W-2, Form 1042-S, etc.). Employers are required to issue Form W-2 by January 31st and Form 1042-S by March 15th. Texas A&M University has traditionally released these forms prior to these deadlines. You will still need to file tax forms with the IRS in the spring.

2.MYTH: I completed Form W-4 when I stared my job, so I filed my taxes.
 REALITY: Form W-4 is not a form used in filing your tax return. This form helps your employer determine how much money should be withheld from each of your paychecks for the purpose of meeting your tax payment requirement. You will still need to file tax forms with the IRS in the Spring.

3.MYTH: I filed my tax return when I completed GLACIER when I started my job. 
 REALITY: GLACIER Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance (also referred to as just ‘GLACIER’), helps the University determine how to tax you. It does not help you file taxes. ISS provides software called SPRINTAX to help you file your taxes. A description of both systems and how they differ follows:
GLACIER Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance is a system that allows Texas A&M University to collect information and make decisions regarding how much you should be paying in taxes based upon many factors that you input. You do NOT file your tax return through GLACIER Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance. If you are employed on campus, the information you input into GLACIER determines how much of your paycheck is withheld for tax payment purposes. For assistance with how to enter your information into GLACIER Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance, please ask your employing department's payroll office or ISS does not have access to this system and therefore we are not the best resource for advising you how to use it.

SPRINTAX is an online service that ISS purchases for international students to use. This software helps to prepare the tax forms that will need to be printed out, signed, and mailed to the U.S. government’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the purpose of filing a tax return. Sprintax should be able to assist with most inquiries you may have about this system. The software provides many outlets for answering your questions directly. Visit the ISS SPRINTAX webpage for more information.

4MYTH: I filed my federal tax return so I will automatically receive a tax refund!
 REALITY: Nonresident aliens for tax purposes only receive a tax refund if, during the tax year (January 1 – December 31), they paid the IRS more money in taxes than they were required to pay. If you did not have any income or were not paying any taxes, you will not receive a refund. If you paid the accurate amount of taxes throughout the year, you will not receive a refund. If you did not pay enough taxes during the year, you may actually owe the IRS some money.

5. MYTH: I am an F-1 or J-1 student so I am 100% exempt from paying taxes.
 REALITY: F-1 and J-1 students are NOT 100% exempt from paying taxes. If you earn taxable income through employment, you will likely have taxes deducted from each of your paychecks. If you earn any sort of taxable income, you must file a tax return to determine how much tax you are obligated to pay. If you did not pay enough during the year, you will owe the IRS money.

6.MYTH: My employer didn’t withhold any taxes from my paycheck so I must not be required to pay taxes!
 REALITY: Some employers do not withhold federal taxes from their employee’s paychecks. We typically see this with students who enter into contract employment. If you receive income from employment and taxes are not withheld, you will likely owe the IRS some money when you file your tax return. Contact ISS if you would like information about how to estimate your tax obligation so you can be sure to set money aside for meeting this obligation. 

7.MYTH: I’m an F-1 or J-1 student and I didn’t earn any income in the U.S. so I don’t have to file taxes.
 REALITY: F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents who are still considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes are required to submit Form 8843 to the IRS regardless of whether they earned any taxable income during the tax year. The SPRINTAX software provided by ISS will help you complete this form.

8.MYTH: I’m an F-1 or J-1 student and I can use any software I want to file my tax return.
 REALITY: Most nonimmigrant international students and their dependents who have been in the U.S. for five years or less are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. As a nonresident for tax purposes, you cannot file your tax return electronically and cannot file the same forms used by U.S. citizens for their tax returns. ISS purchases a tax filing software called SPRINTAX that can help you to file your tax return for free. SPRINTAX will generate the correct tax return documents that apply to nonresidents for tax purposes. You can print the documents generated by SPRINTAX and mail them to the IRS to meet your tax filing requirement.

9.MYTH: It’s ok if I don’t file my tax forms because there will not be any consequences.
 REALITY: Filing your tax forms and filing them correctly is very important; failure to do so and/or incorrectly filing can result in penalties, interest charges and/or an IRS audit. Failure to correctly file your tax forms can also impact future visa and/or status requests in the U.S, particularly with regard to H-1B or Lawful Permanent Resident status (your tax forms may be reviewed as part of the application process).

10.MYTH: I’ve been in the U.S. for several years and never filed any taxes but that’s ok and it’s too late to file anyway.
 REALITY: ISS recommends that you file your taxes for any previous year(s) during which you were obligated to file but did not. Sprintax can help you file prior year returns for a small fee. You may also email or schedule an appointment by calling 979-845-1824 for assistance with determining how to file for previous years. Remember, failure to file your taxes can have serious consequences! See Myth #9 above.