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Tax Questions and Answers for MIT International Scholars

International Scholars > Tax Information > Tax Q&A

 

Please note: For legal reasons, the International Scholars Office staff is not permitted to advise you about taxes and cannot answer questions about your personal tax situation.

When should US income tax forms (also known as “tax returns”) be sent to the IRS?

The tax year for individual income tax is January 1 to December 31. You are required to submit (or “file”) your tax return in the following year: by either April 15 or June 15, depending on which tax forms you have to file. Even if you are no longer living in the US when it’s time to file your tax return, you are still required to mail it to the IRS from abroad.

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Will I receive any documents from MIT to help me complete my tax return? What is a Form W-2? Form 1042-S?

If you received any salary from MIT during the tax year, or your fellowship was paid through MIT Payroll, you will receive a summary statement called Form W-2 or Form 1042-S (or both) from the Payroll Office. You must have this/these forms in order to complete your tax return.

Form W-2 will be available through ATLAS around the end of January and Form 1042-S will be mailed to your home address around the end of February. Therefore, if you have not received your form(s) by mid-March, please contact the Payroll Office.

If you will leave MIT before Form W-2 and/or 1042-S are issued, please be sure to notify the Payroll Office of your forwarding address before you leave MIT so they may mail Form W-2 and/or Form 1042-S to you.

If you received any other income from another US source, you may get a Form W-2, Form 1042-S, or Form 1099 (miscellaneous income) from that other source as well.

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Am I a resident alien or a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes?

If you are not sure whether you are a resident alien or nonresident alien for federal tax purposes, we recommend that you use the Thomson Reuters Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR) tax preparation software available through the ISchO website to help make this determination. If the software determines that you are a nonresident alien, you may use FNTR to generate your tax form(s).

Nonresident Aliens for Federal Tax Purposes

Individuals in nonimmigrant visa statuses who are nonresident aliens for federal tax purposes may be required to submit Form 1040NR and/or Form 8843 to the IRS. This is true for individuals who: (1) received US-source income in 2018; and/or (2) are covered by a tax treaty; and/or (3) received no US-source income in 2018.

Resident Aliens for Federal Tax Purposes

Individuals in nonimmigrant visa statuses (e.g. F, J, H, TN, E-3, etc.) who are resident aliens for federal tax purposes are required to submit Form 1040 (not 1040NR) and are not required to submit Form 8843. Resident aliens cannot use the tax preparation software in FNTR.

Resident aliens for federal tax purposes are subject to taxation based on worldwide income, and tax treaty benefits may or may not apply. If dependents who are residents for federal tax purposes have any worldwide income, they may file either a joint or separate Form 1040.

Please note: MIT affiliates and employees who change immigration status and/or become resident aliens for federal tax purposes should notify the MIT Payroll Office, NE49-4097, and complete a new Form W-4 if necessary. This is the responsibility of each scholar, not of MIT.

Dual Status in the Same Tax Year

Those who have changed visa and/or tax status during the course of 2018 and individuals in H-1, H-4, TN, or TD visa status who were in the United States fewer than 183 days in 2018 may have additional issues or filing requirements and should consult the Thomson Reuters Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR) and/or IRS Publication 519.

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If I did not receive income in the US and am a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes, what must I do?

Even if you did not receive any US source income or a US fellowship, you are required to file Form 8843. You may use the FNTR tax software to generate Form 8843, or you may download Form 8843 and the filing instructions from the IRS website. FNTR also provides information about how to complete Form 8843. The deadline for filing Form 8843 is June 15.

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How do I file my taxes if I am a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes?

Those who received US-source income and/or who are covered by a tax treaty must submit Form 8843 AND either Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ by April 15, 2019; they may also be required to submit other federal forms as well as state tax forms.

As a nonresident alien, you may use the FNTR tax software to generate your tax forms. If the software generates Form 1040NR-EZ and Form 8843, the forms must be filed with the IRS by April 15. (If you did not receive wages as an employee subject to US income tax withholding, the deadline for Form 1040NR is June 15.) If the FNTR tax software generates Form 8843 only, the form must be filed with the IRS by June 15. Nonresident tax forms cannot be filed electronically (“e-filed”). 

Once the FNTR tax software generates tax forms for you, you must print them, sign where indicated, and mail them to the address listed in the form’s instructions. Or, you may also refer to the filing instructions for Forms 1040NR-EZ or Form 8843 on the IRS website.

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How do I file my taxes if I am a resident alien for federal tax purposes?

If you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes and therefore unable to use the FNTR tax software, you may refer to the IRS website for information about free tax software. The ISchO website also has a list of vendors that offer tax software with/without fees (e.g. Turbotax).

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Where can I find information about tax treaties?

Tax treaties exist between the United States and a few other countries which may exempt you from paying income tax in the US. We recommend that you first review the summary of your home country treaty (if there is one) by consulting the Thomson Reuters Foreign National Tax Resource or IRS Publication 901. You can then decide if you wish to claim a tax treaty, depending on how long you will stay in the US.

If you wish to claim a tax treaty exemption, please contact Marsha Dailey, HR Payroll Tax Coordinator, mdailey@mit.edu or tel. 617-253-2799. You will be granted access to the Glacier Tax Compliance System, in which you will enter information about your presence in the United States. Glacier will determine your US tax residency status and your eligibility for a tax treaty. You may also request an appointment to meet with Marsha Dailey on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm in the Atlas Service Center located in E17-106, 40 Ames Street.

MIT employees/affiliates with general questions about tax treaties and 1042-S forms may contact Marsha Dailey in the HR/Payroll Service Center, tel. 617-253-2799.

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I received an e-mail from the HR/Payroll Office asking me to log into the Glacier Tax Compliance System. What is Glacier? How is it different from the Thomson Reuters Foreign National Tax Resource that ISchO offers?

If you will hold a paid MIT appointment (including Postdoctoral or Research Fellow with a fellowship adminstered by MIT), the HR/Payroll Office will send you a welcome e-mail shortly after you arrive at MIT asking you to enter information into Glacier. If your appointment changes from non-paid to paid, you will also receive an e-maill from the HR/Payroll Office asking you to log into Glacier.

Glacier does not prepare your year-end tax forms. It determines your US tax residency status and your eligibility for a tax treaty. This tells MIT how much money to deduct from your pay for taxes. After you enter your information into Glacier, it will generate the tax-related documents (e.g. Form W-4, Form 8233, Form W8-BEN) which you must submit to the Payroll Office in order for them to determine the correct tax withholding and process your tax treaty coverage if applicable.

Glacier will ask for your Social Security number (SSN) in order to generate a tax treaty document (Form 8233). You may enter the rest of your information into Glacier even if you do not yet have a SSN; however, until you get your SSN, Glacier will not be able to generate Form 8233. Once you recieve your SSN, you may go back into Glacier and enter it, and the system will generate your tax treaty document if applicable.

Please note that the tax-related documents you print from Glacier are NOT the year-end tax forms you will submit to the IRS during tax season. They are forms for use by MIT Payroll. If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, you may use the tax preparation software in the Thomson Reuters Foreign National Tax Resource (FNTR) to generate your tax return forms.

If you have any questions related to Glacier, please contact the HR/Payroll Office at 617-253-4255 to set up an appointment.

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I am a Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) now, but my title will change to Postdoctoral Associate (PDA) next year. What is the difference between PDF and PDA in terms of tax requirements?

Postdoctoral Fellows receive a fellowship (foreign or US source) and Postdoctoral Associates receive a salary from MIT. The Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) has a great resource that compares tax liabilities and benefits eligibility for Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows. Please go to Manage PDA/PDF Taxes and Benefits for more information.

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Can I file my tax return for this year before I leave the US?

You cannot file your tax forms before the following tax season. If you will leave before tax season, you must wait to file until after you have left the US. Unfortunately, the IRS does not release the tax forms and instructions until the tax filing season begins in January. As a result, the FNTR tax software will most likely not be available to use until sometime in February. In the meantime, you may use the “resource” and information section of FNTR which contains a lot of information about taxes (e.g. tax treaty, tax residency status, fellowships, extension of filing deadline). Using the software to complete your tax forms, however, will not be possible.

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Can I still use the FNTR tax preparation software through ISchO's website even after I leave MIT?

Yes. However, FNTR tax software requires MIT web certificates for access. Once you have left MIT, if you are unable to log in to FNTR please contact the ISchO and we will give you an individual access code.

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Do I need to file a Massachusetts (MA) state tax return?

If you lived and worked in MA and had a MA source income greater than $8,000 during the tax year, you may be required to file a Massachusetts state tax return under one of the following three categories: as a resident, part-year resident, or nonresident. However, this does not necessarily mean you will be taxed on this income. If you did not have a MA source income in the tax year, you do not need to file a MA state tax return.

If you are a nonresident for federal tax purposes, this does not necessarily mean you will be a nonresident for state tax purposes.

An international scholar can be a Massachusetts resident for state tax purposes if he/she: (1) maintained a "permanent place of abode" in Massachusetts during the tax year AND (2) resided in Massachusetts for more than 183 days in the tax year.

An international scholar can be a Massachusetts part-year resident for state tax purposes if he/she: (1) maintained a "permanent place of abode" in Massachusetts during the tax year AND (2) resided in Massachusetts for less than 183 days during the tax year.

A "permanent place of abode" does not include a dormitory room. However, an apartment or house is a permanent place of abode even if shared with several roommates.

Nonresidents for state tax purposes must file Form 1-NR/PY only if they earned income from a Massachusetts state source. They must report only income earned within Massachusetts.

Please refer to the MA state website for more information about the state tax return requirements. Massachusetts tax forms are Form 1 for residents and Form 1-NR/PY for part-year residents and nonresidents.

If you had income in another US state, you may have to file a state tax return for that state as well.

If you completed a federal tax return (Form 1040-NR) using the FNTR tax software, after completing it, the program should have indicated whether or not you would likely need to file a MA tax return. You may follow the instructions and prepare the MA state tax return in FNTR (if you are a “resident” for MA tax purposes in MA).  Please note that the link for the MA state tax return in FNTR may not be available until sometime in March. 

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I received a Form MA 1099-HC by mail.  What should I do with it?

Form MA 1099-HC Individual Mandate Massachusetts Health Care Coverage serves as proof of MA health insurance and it is normally sent to you by your health insurance provider at the end of January. For example, if you have coverage under the MIT Traditional or Choice health insurance plan, the form will be sent to your home by Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA (BCBSMA). Form MA 1099-HC may be used to complete Schedule HC of your MA state tax return. If you are filing a MA state tax return on paper, the hard copy of Form MA 1099-HC must be attached to your tax return. See Form MA 1099-HC Questions.

If you do not receive Form 1099-HC by the end of February, please call BCBSMA directly using the phone number on the back of your MIT health insurance card, or contact your health insurance provider if it is not BCBSMA.

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What is Form 1095-B/1095-C - Health Coverage?

If you are a Postdoctoral Fellow or a visitor who was enrolled in the MIT Affiliate Health Plan during the tax year, Form 1095-B will be mailed to your home at the end of January. This form provides information about your health plan coverage in 2018 for you and your family members (if any). Please review the form, read the instructions, and if you or your dependent(s) have Social Security Numbers but they are not listed on the 1095-B form, please contact MIT Medical at 617-253-2558 no later than early March so that they can update your record.

If you are a Postdoctoral Associate, Research Scientist or other MIT employee and were enrolled in the MIT Health Plan (either Traditional or Choice Plan) during the tax year, Form 1095-C will be mailed to your home at the end of January. This form provides information about your health plan coverage during the tax year for you and your family members (if any). Please review the form, read the instructions, and if you or your dependent(s) have Social Security Numbers but they are not listed on the 1095-C form, please contact the MIT Benefits Office at 617-253-6151 no later than early March so that they can update your record.

  • If you are a nonresident alien filing federal tax Form 1040NR/1040NR-EZ, you will not need the 1095-B/1095-C form to complete your tax return. Please keep it on file at home with your other tax related documents.

  • If you are a resident alien for tax purposes filing federal tax Form 1040, you will need Form 1095-B/1095-C in order to complete your tax return.

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My J-2 spouse works in the US. Can we file the tax return jointly?

Unfortunately, the federal tax return cannot be filed jointly if you and your J-2 spouse are both nonresident aliens for federal tax purposes. Therefore, you must each file your own tax form (Form 1040NR) and select “married-filing separately” status. If your J-2 spouse works at MIT and has an MIT e-mail address (that ends with @mit.edu), she/he may use the FNTR tax software, using the access code on our website to generate her/his own tax return. If your J-2 spouse works elsewhere and wants to use the FNTR tax software, please contact the ISchO and we will give an individual access code that allows her/him to access FNTR.

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If I cannot file my tax return on time, what do I do?

If you are unable to file your tax return on time and want to know how to extend the filing deadline, you may either refer to FNTR (search for “What if I can’t File My Tax Return on Time”) or go to the IRS website and download Form 4868 “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.” However, please note that this will not extend your deadline to pay your taxes. If you believe you owe taxes, you must submit your payment for all or part of the amount with Form 4868 by April 15.

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I have not yet received my tax refund, when will I receive it?

Please go to the 2018 Tax Refund FAQ on the IRS website to learn about a refund of tax withheld.

If you will leave the US and not return in the future, but have not yet received your refund by the time you need to leave, you should notify the IRS of a new US address to which your refund can be sent. Perhaps you will tell IRS a new address for you “in care of” of a local friend or colleague. Make sure it is a reliable person to whom your refund will be sent, so it will not be stolen. And then make sure your friend or colleague knows your address overseas so your refund check can be forwarded to you abroad. Please read IRS Topic 157 Change of Address and this resource.

Is there a tax specialist at MIT with whom I can speak about my tax filing questions? Where can I find more information?

Unfortunately MIT does not have a tax specialist and MIT employees are not permitted to provide individual tax advice. However:

  • You may acess the Thompson Reuters Foreign NationalTax Resource (FNTR) through the ISchO website. In addition to tax preparation software, FNTR contains an extensive resource and information section which is excellent. You may use the “search” box in FNTR to enter your questions. You may also use the “contact” function to ask questions directly to the software company while using FNTR.

  • The ISchO and the MIT Vice President for Finance office offer annual tax information sessions, usually at the end of February and in March. We post the PowerPoint presentations from the workshops online (accessible with MIT web certificates).
  • You can also access a list of tax specialists on the ISchO website.

  • The MIT Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) has created guidance called "Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer."

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Please note: For legal reasons, the International Scholars Office staff is not permitted to advise you about taxes and cannot answer questions about your personal tax situation.

Last Updated: August 2019

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