2019 General Information

Navigating income taxes rules can be a challenging experience for international students and scholars in the United States. The following information will help explain the basic tax related issues you might experience while in the United States. Please read the following information carefully.


If you are an F or J student who entered the U.S. for the first time in 2015 or later, or if you are a J scholar who first arrived in the U.S. in 2018 or 2019, the law requires you to file a 2019 nonresident tax report with the U.S. government whether or not you worked or earned income in the U.S.


If you had no U.S. source income during 2019, you should file only Form 8843. Submit this form by June 15, 2020, and you’re done. (Note, you can also use Sprintax to prepare  Form 8843 - see below).

If you worked and/or had U.S. source income in the United States during 2019,  you must file Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR along with Form 8843 to determine if you are  due a refund or if you owe additional tax for 2019. You must file Form 1040NR-EZ or  1040NR even if your entire income was exempt under a tax treaty.


Usually you must, prepare, print, sign, and mail your 2019 U.S. income tax return no later than April 15, 2020.  However, the 2019 U.S. tax return deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020.  Keep a copy of your income tax return for your records. It is generally not possible to file your U.S. nonresident income tax return electronically.

The State of Iowa 2019 tax return deadline has been extended to July 31, 2020.



Gather your materials:

  • If you worked at ISU during 2019, your W-2 form summarizing your income and tax payments will soon be available to download and print from your Workday page.
  • If you worked for any other U.S. employer (perhaps you were on CPT or OPT) you must have a W-2 form for that job, too. Contact your employer if you have not received their W-2 form by the end of January 2020.
  • If you claimed a tax treaty or had a taxable scholarship in 2019, Iowa State will mail Form 1042-S to you at the end of January 2020. Make sure your address in AccessPlus is up to date. PLEASE NOTE: The tuition benefit of a graduate assistantship (GA) is not a taxable scholarship. No Form 1042-S is issued or needed for GA tuition benefits.
  • A copy of your 2018 State and U.S. tax returns (if any) will be very useful in completing your 2019 tax returns.

Use our free tax preparation software:

Approximately February 5, 2020, you will receive a message at your ISU email address announcing that the Sprintax software is ready for you to use free of charge. If you are an F-1 or J-1 student who first entered the U.S. in 2015 or later (or a J-1 scholar who first entered in 2018 or after), Sprintax will help you complete all required U.S. income tax forms for 2019. If you are an ISU student or scholar and do not receive a Sprintax message by February 14, 2020, please contact

Get some tax help:

  • The College of Business will offer federal and state tax help by appointment only starting February 19, 2020.   For details about the College of Business VITA tax help site and to schedule an appointment, please see this site: COB Tax Help
  • If you are a resident for U.S. tax purposes (F or J students who have been in the U.S. more than 5 years, and J scholars who have been in the U.S. more than 2 years), the Ames Public Library has assistance available, too. Call 515-239-5646 and press 4 to make an appointment. Note, this site does not prepare nonresident returns



    It is generally not possible to file a nonresident tax return electronically. You must, prepare, print, sign, and mail your 2019 U.S. income tax return to Austin, Texas, if you are due a refund, or to Charlotte, North Carolina, if you must pay additional tax. State of Iowa tax returns are mailed to Des Moines.



    Because it’s the law! (And because you may be due a refund which the government will not send to you unless you request it on your tax return.)

    One final note….the tax rules and processes for nonresidents are very different from those that apply to U.S. residents. The tax forms that an F-1 or J-1 student who arrived in 2015 or later and a J-1 scholar who arrived in 2018 or later must complete are very different from the ones that apply to your American friends and colleagues. Do not be tempted to make the wrong choice. If you are unsure about your tax status in the U.S., Sprintax will analyze your situation and let you know if you are a resident or nonresident for 2019 U.S. tax purposes.

    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.