The purpose of this section is to give you general information about your responsibilities related to taxes.
CCA and the ISAP staff are not tax professionals and can not provide assistance with tax related questions. We will not approve appointment requests for help with tax forms - please use the resources listed below.
Who must file tax forms?
All students! Every international student who was present in the US for at least one day in the tax year 2020 (January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020) must file at least one tax form - the 8843 form.
When do I need to file tax forms?
Tax statements for the 2020 tax year will be sent to you by your bank, employers (including CCA), etc., after January 1, 2020. The deadline to file your tax return has been extended to May 17, 2021.
Where can I learn more about taxes?
The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has information dedicated to tax information for foreign students and scholars. You can find more information on the IRS Website.
Sprintax is offering informational webinars in 2021. The sessions will cover the same topics on each occasion:
- An overview of tax for nonresident students and scholars
- Who must file a 2020 US tax return
- What income forms students/scholars may receive
- Forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS
- We cover terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T
- What happens if students don’t file, or misfile
- State tax returns
- IRS stimulus payments
- Sprintax overview
All times listed are Pacific / California time.
What tax forms do I need to file?
ALL F-1 and J-1 students must file the 8843 form, even if you did not earn any income in 2020:
- File Form 8843 (F-1 and J-1 students are categories of exempt individuals). The 8843 form is not an income tax form, but is required by the IRS for tax purposes.
- The address on where to send the 8843 form if it is the only tax form you need to complete is on page 3 of the form under "When and Where to File."
- A SSN or ITIN is not required to complete the 8843 form.
If you earned income in 2020, you may also need to file a federal or state tax return, or both in addition to the 8843 form:
- File Form 8843 (F-1 and J-1 students are categories of exempt individuals)
- Send the 8843 form with your other tax forms listed below.
- If you do file a federal tax return and have received your income tax forms from any employers from tax year 2020, you will use Form 1040NR if you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes.
- IMPORTANT : Most international students are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. If you are unsure if you would be considered a resident or nonresident for tax purposes, please look at the Substantial Presence Test or consult one of the tax resources listed below. You could face tax penalties if you complete the wrong form.
- If you are considered a resident for tax purposes, you would use Form 1040 to file taxes.
- You will likely also have to file a California state tax return using Form 540NR. For more information on if you need to file (based on level of income) visit the Franchise Tax Board non resident information page.
Taxes can be very complicated. If you are unsure if you need to, or should, file a tax return, if you are considered a nonresident or resident, or have any other questions about your personal tax situation, please consult one of the resources below.
How do I file my tax forms?
You can either file your tax forms yourself, or you can use a tax preparation company. Many people in the United States use tax-preparation software or pay a tax-preparation company to do their taxes.
To file taxes yourself, download the forms:
Online Tax-Preparation Resources
Online Tax-Preparation Resources
IRS Tax Form 8843 Online Wizard is a free online tool to help international students complete form 8843.
Sprintax is an online tax software specifically designed for international students. Complete the requested information, and their software will identify all necessary forms to file.
- Sprintax offers a limited number of discount codes on the federal tax forms for CCA students. The code for a $5 discount for tax year 2021 is SpR20CCA101F5
Gary R. Engler & Company is an accounting and tax-preparation company that also specializes in helping international students. Visit the website for more information.
Glacier Tax Prep is an online tax software specifically for international students. They can help with federal tax returns.
TurboTax can assist with online tax preparation, but PLEASE be sure to complete the NR forms meant for non-residents of the United States. Many CCA students have reported that TurboTax defaults to forms for US Citizens and have had problems.
In-Person Tax-Preparation Resources
H&R Block is a tax preparation company with offices all over the country, including in the Bay Area. If you go to H&R Block, be sure to let them know you if you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, and ask if they have a specialist in nonresident taxes.
IRS VITA Sites The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has sites where volunteers can help you prepare your tax returns.
Please visit this webpage for more information and to find a site near you. As mentioned above, if you are considered a nonresident for tax purposes, be sure to ask if they have a specialist in nonresident taxes.
Other tax companies and software are available. If you find a tax service you want to use and are a nonresident for tax purposes, be sure to ask if they have a specialist in nonresident taxes.
If it is an online tax-preparation software or service, be sure it will work for nonresident taxes. Some tax professionals are unfamiliar with nonresident taxes, and some software programs are only set up to do resident taxes.