2023 Federal (U.S. government) tax returns are due by April 15, 2024.   The 2023 State of Iowa tax return filing deadline is April 30, 2024.  Please note that the U.S. government will not accept 2023 tax returns for processing earlier than January 29, 2024.

That depends on if you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes. Tax forms  and rules are different for residents and nonresidents and it is very important to file the correct forms to avoid legal and financial difficulties.

F-1 and J-1 students are nonresidents for tax purposes for their first five years in the United States. J-1 scholars are nonresidents for their first two years. (Note that partial years count as full years for this calculation.) If you are an F-1 or J-1 student who came  to the U.S. for the first time in 2019 or later, you are a nonresident for 2023 tax purposes. (Do not make the mistake of filing a resident tax return if you are a nonresident.)  If you are an  F-1 or J-1 student who has been in the U.S. since 2018 or earlier, you must take the  Substantial Presence Test (SPT) described below to determine your residency status for 2023 tax purposes.


Your residency status for tax purposes can change during your time in the U.S. The Substantial Presence Test (SPT) is used to determine if someone who has been in the  U.S. for all or part of more than 5 calendar years as a student or more than 2 calendar years as a scholar is a resident for U.S. tax purposes. To pass the SPT and be considered a resident for 2023 tax purposes, an F-1 or J-1 student must:

  1. Have been in the U.S. in F or J status for at least some part of every year since 2018 or earlier
  2. be physically present in the United States for at least 31 days during 2023, and
  3. be physically present in the United States for 183 days or more during 2023, 2022, and 2021 according to the SPT formula described below.  For this calculation F and J students cannot count any of the days in their first 5 years in the U.S. and J scholars cannot count any of the days in their first 2 years in the U.S.  After excluding days that cannot be counted, the 183 days are calculated for 2023 tax returns as follows:
  • all days of presence in the U.S. during 2023    plus
  • 1/3 of all days of presence in the U.S. during 2022    plus  
  • 1/6 of all days of presence in the U.S. during 2021   

If the total of this calculation is 183 or greater, not counting any days in the first 5 calendar years you were in the U.S. as an F or J student and not counting any days in the first two calendar years you were present in the U.S. as a J scholar, then you are a resident for tax purposes in 2023 and can file the same tax forms that U.S. citizens file. Remember that F and J students can count days for the Substantial Presence Test only for years after their first 5 years in the U.S.  J scholars can count days for the Substantial Presence Test only for years after their first 2 years in the U.S. 

Here are two examples:

Excellent Student arrived in the U.S. in F-1 student status on August 10, 2017, and has maintained that status. Mr. Student left the U.S. for the first time since 2017 on May 20, 2023, to visit his family for the summer and study abroad in China for Fall Semester 2023.  He did not return to the U.S. until January 5, 2024.  As an F-1 student he cannot count any time during his first 5 years in the U.S. (2017 through 2021) when taking the Substantial Presence Test, so his calculation is as follows:

140 days in 2023

(he was gone from the U.S. for 225 days during 2023

121.67 days in 2022

(1/3 of the 365 days in 2022)

0 days in 2021

(2021 was his 5th year in the U.S. so it doesn't count)

His total of 261.67 days (140+121.67+0) is greater than 183, so Mr. Student passes the SPT for 2023 and is considered a resident for 2023 U.S. tax purposes.   He will file his taxes for 2023 using the same forms and rules that apply to U.S. citizens.

Dr. Famous Researcher visited the U.S. for the first time as a J-1 Research Scholar from June 2021 through May 2022.   He returned home in May 2022, then came back to the U.S. as a J-1 Short-Term Scholar on August 1, 2023.  As a J-1 scholar he cannot count any time during his first 2 years in the U.S. (2021 and 2022) when taking the Substantial Presence Test, so his calculation is as follows:

153 days in 2023

(100% of the days he was present in his third year, 2023)

0 days in 2022

(2022 was his 2nd year in the U.S. so it can’t count)

0 days in 2021

(2021 was his 1st year in the U.S. so it can't count)

His total of 153 days is less than 183, so Dr. Researcher does not pass the SPT for 2023 and must file a nonresident tax return for 2023.  

Determination of tax residence status is more complex for F-1 and J-1 students who have previously visited the U.S. and for J-1 scholars who have visited the U.S. more than once within the last 7 years.   Contact issotax@iastate.edu if you have questions about your tax residence status. 

If your scholarship is from sources inside the United States, the portion of your scholarship used for room and board as well as for other non-educational expenses is taxed at a flat rate of 14%. Individuals from countries with which the U.S. has negotiated tax treaties (see below) may be able to reduce the amount of tax on their scholarships. The portion of your U.S. scholarship granted and used to pay tuition and required fees is exempt from U.S. tax.  On or before March 15th you will receive Form 1042-S from your scholarship provider which will show the taxable portion of your scholarship and any tax paid on that scholarship.

If you are a nonresident for tax purposes and your scholarship is provided by an entity outside the United States you do not owe tax to the U.S. on any part of your scholarship. Check with your scholarship provider to determine if you have any U.S. tax obligations on your scholarship from outside the U.S.

The U.S. has negotiated tax treaties with several countries of the world. If you are a resident of a country that has a tax treaty with the U.S., you may be eligible to reduce or eliminate U.S. tax on your income. If you are eligible for a tax treaty benefit and wish to claim that benefit to reduce or eliminate tax withholding on your employment income, you must file Form 8233 with your employer every year. More tax treaty information, including the countries with which the U.S. has negotiated tax treaties, can be found here. Remember that if you claim a tax treaty benefit you must file a tax return for the year in which you claimed that benefit even if none of your income was taxed. Failure to file the tax return can cause the  U.S. government to disallow your treaty benefit.

Yes. All nonresidents must file a tax return for every year they are in the United States. The law requires U.S. employers to withhold a standard percentage of tax from each employee and to pay that tax to the U.S. government. Individuals must file a tax return at the end of each year to determine whether they owe additional taxes or to request a refund from the U.S. government if their employer deducted too much tax during the year.

After the end of each calendar year, U.S. employers must provide Form W-2, "Wage and Tax Statement," to their employees to summarize the amount paid for work with that employer during the year. Your employer must also report on the Form W-2 how much tax was withheld from your paychecks and paid to the government on your behalf during the past year. You must receive Form W-2 from each U.S. employer for whom you worked during the year. You need the information from all your Forms W-2 to complete your annual tax return and  must include a copy of each Form W-2 with your tax return. If you did not work in the United States during the year, or if all of your income was exempt under a tax treaty for which you signed up at the beginning of the year, you will not receive Form W-2. (See “What is Form 1042-S?” below).   ISU distributes W-2 forms to its employees through Workday in mid January.  Individuals employed by ISU during 2023, receive an e-mail when Forms W-2 are ready and can retrieve their 2023 Form W-2 from Workday as follows:

  • Log into Workday
  • Click the “Pay” application
  • Select “My Tax Documents” under the "View" column
  • Click the "View/Print" button in the row for Tax Year 2023

Form 1042-S, "Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding," serves two purposes. You may receive Form 1042-S either because you:

  • Received a U.S.-source scholarship or fellowship on which you must pay tax,     or
  • Earned income or had a scholarship exempt from U.S. tax under a treaty between your country of residence and the U.S.

You will receive Form 1042-S if you had a taxable scholarship or tax treaty benefit during 2023.  Wait to file your tax return until your Form 1042-S has arrived.  You need the information on Form 1042-S to complete your tax return properly.  (Note that scholarships used to cover tuition and required fees, for example a tuition scholarship for a Graduate Assistant, are not taxable and no Form 1042-S will be issued.)

If all your income for 2023 was earned as an employee, and you did not sign up for 2023 tax treaty benefits, you will receive Form W-2 instead of Form 1042-S. 

Employers distribute Forms W-2 to each employee on or before January 31st.  If you were employed by Iowa State University during 2023, your Form W-2 for 2023 will be available in Workday starting January 19, 2024.  To access your 2023 Form W-2:

  • Log into Workday
  • Click the “Pay” application
  • Select “My Tax Documents” under the "View" column
  • Click the "View/Print" button in the row for Tax Year 2023

If you were authorized to work off-campus during the year and have not received Form(s) W-2 from your off-campus employer(s) by February 1st, contact the employer(s) to request a copy.

Schools and sponsors provide Form 1042-S in late February to those employees who signed up for tax treaty benefits and to students with taxable U.S.-source scholarships.  ISU delivers Forms 1042-S electronically through the FNIS system to those who authorize the university to do so.  If you received a taxable scholarship through ISU or enrolled for tax treaty benefits at ISU during 2023, you will receive an e-mail message with instructions to authorize electronic delivery of your Form 1042-S.  If you do not authorize electronic delivery, your Form 1042-S will be mailed to the home contact address in your Workday record.  If all your income for 2023 was earned as an employee, and you did not sign up for 2023 tax treaty benefits, you will not receive Form 1042-S.  Instead, print your Form W-2 from Workday.  

If you:

  • Did not work in the U.S. during 2023, but received a taxable U.S.-source scholarship, you will need only Form 1042-S to prepare your 2023 tax return.  You will not have a Form W-2.
  • Worked at ISU during 2023 and signed up for a tax treaty benefit that covered your entire earnings for the year, all your income will be reported on Form 1042-S and no Form W-2 is needed to complete your tax return.
  • Worked at ISU during 2023, and signed up for a tax treaty benefit that covered only part of your earnings for the year, log into Workday and print Form W-2 (see instructions above) that reports the portion of your income not covered by the treaty.  Authorize electronic delivery of your Form 1042-S. You will need both Form 1042-S and Form W-2 to complete your tax return.
  • If you worked off-campus on CPT, OPT, or Academic Training for part of the year, your former employer may have produced a Form W-2 for you, but may not know your current mailing address.  Please contact your former employer(s) if you do not receive your Form W-2 from them by February 1st.

It’s important to gather all your tax forms before you file your tax return.   A copy of every income reporting form (for example Form 1042-S and Form W-2) goes to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so they can check your tax return against these forms.  If there is a discrepancy between the information you provide on your tax return and the information in the IRS records, the IRS will contact you for additional information which delays the processing of your tax return and any refund you may be due.

Form 1095 is a report of health insurance coverage that you had or were offered by a U.S. employer during the previous year.  This health care form provides information that residents for tax purposes may need when filing their tax returns. If you are a nonresident, Form 1095 is for your information only and the information from it does not need to be included on your nonresident tax return. Do not attach Form 1095 to your tax return.  Residents for tax purposes may use the information on Form 1095 to prepare their resident tax returns. (See “How do I know if I am a resident for tax purposes?” at the beginning of this FAQ).

Form 1098-T is a report of payments received, amounts billed, or refunds made for tuition and related expenses during the tax year. Nonresident students do not need Form 1098-T and it does not need to be included with a nonresident tax return. Those who qualify as residents for U.S tax purposes may use the information on this form to determine their eligibility for certain education tax credits. (See “How do I know if I am a resident alien for tax purposes?” at the beginning of this FAQ).

Form 1099 is a report of income received during the tax year from sources other than wages.

  • Form 1099-INT is a report of interest income earned on deposits with U.S. banks. Nonresident students and scholars are generally exempt from tax on this type of interest income.  However, residents must include any bank interest reported on Form 1099-INT as taxable income on their tax return.
  • Forms 1099-B and 1099-DIV report proceeds from the sale of stocks and bonds, dividend income and capital gains. Both nonresidents and residents must pay taxes on income reported on Forms 1099-B and 1099-DIV.
  • Form 1099-G is a report of any State tax refund received for the previous year. This amount may be taxable to both nonresidents and residents if it represents a refund of State taxes claimed as an itemized deduction on a prior year's tax return. 

You will need all Forms 1099 issued to you in order to properly prepare your tax return.

All nonresident F and J international students and scholars must file Form 8843, even if they had no income for the year. F-2 and J-2 dependents of nonresident F and J international students and scholars must also file Form 8843.  ISSO's Sprintax software can assist you to prepare the required Form 8843.  You may also access the form here:  Form 8843 

Yes. If you were physically present in the U.S. in F or J status at any time from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023, you must file Form 8843 for 2023.  ISSO's Sprintax software can assist you to prepare the required Form 8843.  You may also access Form 8843 here:  Form 8843 

Yes.  Tax law changes made in December of 2017 require nonresidents to file a tax return with the U.S. government if they earned any U.S. source income during 2023.

The definition of "resident" for tax purposes is different than the definition used for immigration or tuition purposes.  The tax forms, tax rules, and tax software products that apply to residents are very different from the forms, rules and software that nonresidents must use. Both residents and nonresidents should protect themselves and their legal U.S. immigration status by filing the appropriate tax form for their U.S. tax residency status. 

Nonresident students and scholars use form 1040NR for their Federal (U.S. government) taxes.  "NR" means “nonresident” for tax purposes.  All nonresident F and J international students and scholars must also file Form 8843, even if they had no income for the year.  Nonresidents for U.S. tax purposes must not use Forms 1040 or 1040A.  

Individuals who qualify as residents for tax purposes use the same 1040 forms as U.S. citizens. PLEASE NOTE:   If  you are an F or J student who first arrived in the U.S. in 2019 or later, you are a nonresident for 2023.  It is not legal for a nonresident student to file a resident tax return.  If you are a J-1 scholar who first arrived in 2022 or later you are a nonresident for 2023.  It is not legal for nonresident scholars to file a resident tax return

ISSO has partnered with Sprintax to provide nonresident federal tax return preparation software at no charge to ISU students and scholars.  Sprintax will assist you to determine if you are a resident or nonresident, prepare the required forms, and file your tax return electronically if you are eligible to do so.  Watch for an e-mail from issotax@iastate.edu with instructions for accessing Sprintax when the 2023 tax filing season opens in early February 2024.

Many nonresident tax returns can be filed electronically.  Sprintax provides free paper and electronic (for those who qualify) federal tax return filing for ISU's international students and scholars.  Some other free electronic filing options are available for those who qualify based on age and income. Two options for free e-filing of both federal and state nonresident tax returns are:

Most tax software for residents (TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer, TaxAct. etc.) provide electronic filing for resident returns.

However you choose to file, be very certain to complete the correct forms for your tax residency status.

If you are due a refund or owe no additional tax, mail Forms 1040NR, and 8843 to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, Texas 73301-0215
If you owe additional tax, mail Forms 1040NR, and 8843 to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
P.O. Box 1303
Charlotte, North Carolina 28201-1303

Mail your State tax return(s) to the address indicated on the tax form instructions for the State(s) in which you worked during the year.

You may prepare and mail a paper check with your tax return. You may also pay online or by phone. For more information please see www.irs.gov/e-pay

Nonresident taxpayers cannot file a joint return with a spouse.  Instead, they must select the "Married filing separately" status on their tax return, whether or not their spouse lives with them in the United States.

A nonresident who does not meet the Substantial Presence Test and does not have a “green card” may choose to be treated as a resident for tax purposes if the nonresident is married to a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or someone who passes the Substantial Presence Test. This choice can be made if:

  1. at the end of the year, one spouse is a nonresident alien and the other is a U.S. citizen or resident, and
  2. both spouses agree to file a joint return and to treat the non-resident alien as a  resident alien for the entire tax year.

To make the election, the married couple must attach a statement to the joint tax return that is filed for the year. The statement should contain the following information:

  1. A declaration that one spouse was a nonresident and the other spouse was a U.S. citizen or resident on the last day of the tax year, and that they choose to be treated  as U.S. residents for the entire tax year, and
  2. Each spouse's name, address, and taxpayer identification number (SSN).

When making this choice, remember that tax residents must pay tax to the United States on their total worldwide income. Nonresidents pay tax to the U.S. only on income earned in the U.S.

Nonresident taxpayers are not permitted to claim dependents or dependent credits with few exceptions.  Only those students and scholars who can claim dependents under U.S. tax treaties with Mexico, Canada, South Korea, or India (students only) may be eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit for their U.S.-born child(ren) who have a valid Social Security Number.      

A dual-status alien is a person who is both a resident and a nonresident for tax purposes during the same tax year.
Dual status usually occurs in the year a person first arrives in the United States or the year in which a person leaves the United States for the final time. It may also occur if a person's residency status changes during the year. Tax returns for dual-status aliens are generally more complicated to prepare.  Please review the IRS website here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/dual-status-aliens or speak with a tax advisor for assistance.

If you do not owe any additional tax, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not financially penalize you except to keep any refund you would have received had you filed your return. However, the terms of your immigration status require that you stay in compliance with all laws of the United States, including income tax filing. If you apply for permanent residence in the U.S. at a later date you may be asked to prove that you have complied with all tax laws. If you are a nonresident with income protected by a treaty or have income from outside the U.S. and fail to file a tax return, both your treaty-protected and foreign-source income become subject to U.S. tax.

If you owe additional tax for the year, you must file a tax return and pay those taxes on time to avoid late fees. The IRS charges substantial interest and penalties on past due taxes. Failure to follow tax rules can also have far-reaching legal consequences.

If you are a nonresident you must file Form 1040NR with Form 8843.   Filing the wrong tax form is tax fraud and can place your immigration status in jeopardy. The additional money you might receive is not worth the legal and financial trouble.

F-1 and J-1 nonresidents for tax purposes are exempt from FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes on wages earned from legally authorized employment in the United States. If you are a nonresident, authorized to work off campus, and your employer withheld FICA taxes in error, you can request a refund. The law requires that you first ask your employer for a refund of the FICA taxes. If your employer cannot help you, file Forms 843 and 8316 with the IRS to request a refund from the government. Attach the following to Form 843:

  1. A copy of the Form W-2 showing FICA taxes withheld
  2. A copy of your I-94
  3. A copy of your most recent entry visa
  4. Completed Form 8316
  5. A copy of Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR filed for the year in which the FICA was  withheld
  6. A copy of your I-20 or DS-2019
  7. A copy of your Employment Authorization Document (if applicable)
  8. If your immigration status changed during the tax year, attach the related USCIS Approval Notices

Mail your claim to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Ogden, Utah 84201-0038

More information about Form 843 and Form 8316 can be found in IRS Publication 519: https://www.irs.gov/forms‐pubs (see page 43) or contact a tax advisor for assistance.

**Note that wages earned by those in J-2 status are not exempt from FICA taxes.

Tax forms and regulations vary from State to State. In Iowa you will use Form IA1040 to file your state tax return. Guidance on Iowa tax return preparation is available elsewhere on this Website.

In addition to your Federal tax return you must complete a tax return for each U.S. State in which you worked during the year. (Exceptions are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming which have no State income tax on wages.) If you worked in both Iowa and another State during the year, you must complete Form IA1040 and attach an IA Form 126 or IA Form 130 depending on your situation. You'll need to file similar “part-year resident” forms for the other State(s) where you worked during the year. Multiple state tax returns can become complicated because you must report total income earned during the year to both States then calculate a prorated amount of tax applicable to the earnings from each State. If you need assistance please contact a tax advisor.

Do not rely on your American friends for tax advice. Chances are they do not know that the tax rules for nonresidents are very different from the tax rules that apply to them. Although their advice is well meaning, it is often unintentionally misguided. Please contact a tax advisor or consult the IRS Website https://www.irs.gov/ for guidance.

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.