Taxes and Social Security

Navigating income taxes rules can be a challenging experience for international students and scholars working in the United States. The following information acts as a guide to the most basic tax related issues you might experience while in the United States. Please read the following page carefully.

Federal Income Tax Information


For general tax information for international students and scholars, please read the following document prepared by ISSO: General Tax Information
 
For federal tax forms and publications, please visit the United States Internal Revenue Service website at http://www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs
 
The NAFSA Tax Brochure might also be useful. It is designed to offer general guidelines for federal income tax obligations. Topics covered include:
  • What is considered income?
  • What is a tax return?
  • Who must file a tax return?
  • What is a "non-resident" alien?
  • Determining Tax Residency.
  • Where to get help locally.
  • Additional internet resoures.
Federal Tax FAQs can be found here.

State of Iowa Income Tax Information


To access tax forms and publications for the State of Iowa, please visit the State of Iowa Department of Revenue website:  http://www.iowa.gov/tax/forms/indinc.html#all
  
http://www.iowa.gov/tax/forms/1341001f.pdf     Fillable/calculating form to complete, print, and mail
 
Note that the Iowa short form (Form IA1040A) has been discontinued for 2013.
  
Iowa Low Income Exemption:

If you are single and earned income only from Iowa during 2013 you may be eligible for a full refund of all Iowa taxes withheld if your total income for the year was $9,000 or less.   
 
If you are married and earned income only from Iowa during 2013, you may be eligible for a full refund of all Iowa taxes withheld if the total wages reported in Box 1 of all Forms W-2 issued to you and your spouse combined are $13,500 or less.
 
The Iowa Alternate Tax Computation may benefit some married taxpayers by reducing the amount of tax they owe. If your net income and that or your spouse combined is greater than $13,500, you may owe less Iowa tax by using the Alternate Tax Computation.  Instructions including an alternate tax computation worksheet can be found here  http://www.iowa.gov/tax/1040EI/Line/13Line39.html    Complete the worksheet to determine if the Iowa Alternate Tax Computation would reduce the amount of tax you owe. If it does, use this amount on your return rather than the amount from the tax table.
 

 Completing the Iowa Tax Return


Single Taxpayers:
If you are single and earned income only from Iowa during 2013, the following might apply to you.

  • If the wages reported to you in Box 1 of your Form(s) W-2 are $9,000 or less, Click here for instructions.

Example 1 - Using the "Low Income Exemption" option

  • If the wages reported to you in Box 1 or your Form(s) W-2 are more than $9,000, Click here for instructions.

Example 2

Married Taxpayers:
If you are married and earned income only from Iowa during 2013, the following might apply to you:

  • If the total wages reported to you in Box 1 of all Form(s) W-2 issued to you and your spouse combined are $13,500 or less, Click here for instructions.

Example 3  - Using the "Low Income Exemption" option

  • If the total wages reported to you in Box 1 or all Form(s) W-2 issued to you and your spouse combined are more than $13,500, Click here for instructions.

Example 4

Example 5    Married filing separately alternate calculation


GLACIER Tax Prep and Other Tax Assistance Options


 
GLACIER Tax Prep (formerly known as CINTAX), a free software program to assist F and J nonresidents to complete their Federal taxes will be available in mid-February.
 
After receiving an e-mail from ISSO announcing the availability of GLACIER Tax Prep, click on the link below to request a GLACIER Tax Prep access code:
 
 
The International Students and Scholars Office will also offer free tax assistance sessions for students and scholars needing some in-person help.  You must access GLACIER Tax Prep and enter your 2013 tax information into the system prior to booking an appointment.  To register for a tax assistance session, please make an appointment by clicking the link below:
 
Tax Assistance Appointments   Click here to schedule an appointment with a tax helper in ISSO   
 
If you completed your tax returns for 2012, you will find the 2013 forms and instructions quite similar.
 
If you did not work in the U.S. during 2013 and need to file only Form 8843, you can find and complete that form here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8843.pdf
F-1 and J-1 students will complete the top portion and Parts I and III of the 8843 form. Print and sign the form and mail it to the address in Austin, Texas given on page 3 of the 8843 instructions.

Additional Tax Information


Social Security and Individual Tax Identification Numbers


Social Security:
Employers use the Social Security number to report employee wage earnings to the United States government. International Students and Scholars who are working in the United States must apply for a social security number in order to receive their wages from Iowa State University. Students who receive fellowship or scholarship funds from Iowa State should apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) if they do not qualify for a Social Security Number.
 
 
You do not need a social security number to:
  • Open a bank account in the United States
  • Obtain an Iowa driver license or ID card
  • Initiate a cell phone contract
Banks and the Iowa Department of Transportation have provisions in place for international students and scholars to receive services without a social security number.
 

Individual Tax Identification Number:

Individuals not eligible for a Social Security number, but with taxable US source income (e.g. scholarships) must apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This number is used for tax filing purposes only. GLACIER Tax Prep will guide you through the process to apply for an ITIN if needed.
Individuals from one of the countries that can claim an exemption for their spouse and/or child (Canada, Mexico, Republic of Korea and students from India) must apply for an ITIN for their dependents at the time they file their annual tax return. Issuance of an ITIN does not grant the individual the right to work in the United States.
 
No ITIN or Social Security Number is needed to file Form 8843 by itself.

Disclaimer


The resources on this page were prepared by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) as general guidelines to assist you in preparing your Iowa and federal government income tax returns. The information here is not to be construed as professional tax advice and does not apply to every situation. If your tax circumstances are more complicated (for example, if you had income from both Iowa and another U.S. State) you will want to obtain professional tax advice from resources in the community.

Additional information