It is tax season! Every year, all people living in the United States must file taxes. We call this season "tax season" because the government allows from January 1st to April 15th to file taxes. There are penalties for filing late, so make sure to read the following information very carefully.
All people who have lived in the United States in the past year are required by law to report tax information to the U.S. government. This reporting process is commonly known as “filing taxes.”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. agency responsible for the collection of income tax. Most people need to pay federal income tax and state income tax. There may be a tax treaty between your country and the U.S. The treaty may exempt your income from taxation, but does not exclude you from being required to file taxes. Information about tax treaties is available here. Your employer(s) will send you a W-2 form, showing the amount of money you have earned and the tax withheld. The W-2 form is used in the preparation of your tax return. You may also receive other forms related to tax issues like health insurance (Form 1095-A), taxable investments or independent contract income (Form 1099), and others.
In addition to federal income tax you may be subject to state income tax. For most people who work for the University, you will be subject to State of Delaware income tax. If you reside in another state other than Delaware you may be subject to income tax in your state of residence.
Please understand that the OISS staff members are not tax specialists and cannot provide tax advice.
All students and scholars must file taxes, even if you had no income! Even if you paid taxes on money you earned, these are only estimated amounts. Usually your employer over-estimates the amount of tax you will owe. In these cases, you may end up receiving money back from the government.
Generally you will be directed to file for federal and state taxes, since both the federal and state governments' estimated taxes are withheld from your paycheck. In some states, like Pennsylvania, you also must file local taxes with your town or borough.
The University of Delaware has arranged free access to Sprintax Tax Preparation, which will guide you through the tax preparation process, prepare the necessary documents and even check if you are due a refund. Full instructions can be found here. For more details on this tax service, watch these videos, check your UD email and contact OISS at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 831-2115 with any questions or concerns.
In the US there are many private companies that provide tax filing services for a fee. Some of these companies provide services online only. Others have locations in or near Newark where you can meet with a tax preparer. Please note that none of these companies are endorsed by OISS.
VITA offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 per year or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. While there are no VITA offices in Newark, please visit their web site for other office locations:
Please note that filing federal income tax forms is the personal responsibility of each international student and scholar. OISS advisors and other staff members are not tax experts. We can refer you to relevant resources but cannot help prepare tax documents or answer tax-related questions. Please be aware that you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your income tax returns.
It has been brought to the attention of OISS that some international students and scholars have been targets of phone and email scams, where people claim to be officials from the US government, IRS, and other agencies in order to gain access to personal and financial information for harmful purposes.
“Phishing” is the act of committing fraud by tricking people into sharing their financial information online by posing as a legitimate company. You should be suspicious of any organization requesting your personal or financial information online via email or phone.
When necessary, the U.S. government will only contact you in writing by regular mail. They will NEVER ask you to disclose your SSN/ITIN, personal identification and financial information by email or phone.
The links below are very helpful to help explain phishing scams and how you can avoid them. If you are unsure about an email, phone call, letter, or other correspondence your received, you should not reply. Please contact OISS if you have concerns.