Federal and State Tax Deadlines Extended Until July 15, 2020
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Before You File
Have you reviewed the information on our U.S. Tax Basics page?
If you were physically in the U.S. in F or J status at any time between January 1 – December 31 2019, you are obligated to send IRS Form 8843, even if you had no U.S. income to the Internal Revenue Service. If you did have U.S. income, your full nonresident tax return will include form 8843.
U.S. and state income tax laws are complex and each individual's situation is unique. Learn more at our U.S. Income Tax Basics. Due to the complexities of U.S. tax law and legal restrictions,university staff are neither qualified nor permitted to advise on taxes.
The ISSO provides access to Sprintax for you to use at no cost for federal forms so you don’t have figure out the forms you need and how to fill them in. Sprintax is a tax preparation software designed for international students, scholars, their dependents and alumni to prepare your required Form 8843 and nonresident federal tax return.
If you are a nonresident for federal tax purposes, you must file a nonresident tax return. Do not commit tax fraud by mistakenly filing a resident tax return. Sprintax helps you determine your federal tax status.
You don’t have to navigate complicated U.S. tax regulations if you use Sprintax. Simply answer a series of questions about the time you have spent in the U.S., the immigration status(es) you held, and any payments you have received.
- Determines your federal tax status (“nonresident alien” (NRA) or “resident alien”). If it determines you are a resident alien, you cannot continue to use Sprintax and should consult our Resources for Filing a Resident Tax Return page for information.
- Applies all relevant allowances, deductions, and tax treaty provisions.
- Generates your required completed form(s) as PDFs, including an 8843 for each of your dependents, for you to print and sign, along with mailing instructions
- Informs you if you have a state tax liability and offers the option of completing a state tax return for an individual fee.
If you need help while using Sprintax, you can :
If you choose to complete Form 8843 on your own instead of using Sprintax, be aware that the IRS mailing address is on page 3 and the ISSO cannot answer any questions about how to fill it out.
Gather Documents and Information You May Need
Gather the forms and documents from the list below that are relevant to you. If you had U.S. source income, you will receive one or more forms (W-2, 1042-S, 1099) indicating the type, source and amount of income received. Learn more about income types at our U.S. Income Tax Basics page.
Do not file your 2019 tax return until you have all of your income statements!
We recommend that you wait until the second week of March to use Sprintax to make sure you have all income tax statements. Some students and scholars get both a W-2 and a 1042-S. The W-2 is issued by the end of January but the 1042-S is issued later (end of February/beginning of March.)
Log In and Create a Sprintax Account
Use Sprintax for free for your federal tax forms when you log in through the Columbia Portal below with your UNI and password. It will take you to the Sprintax page where you will create your Sprintax account.
- Student alumni may continue to use Sprintax with their UNI and password regardless of whether you are still in the U.S. or living abroad.
- Scholars who are no longer at Columbia and do not have a valid UNI should email their ISSO Scholar Services office linked below to request a Sprintax code.
Follow the Instructions to Complete Federal Tax Forms
If You Did Not Have U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents;
If You Had U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate:
- a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents
- a federal tax return, including either a 1040NR-EZ or form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.
If you need a notary public to certify your documents for a W-7 application for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer ID), you can use your smart phone to look for a "notary near me" or google "notaries public" in your zip code. Some places near the Morningside campus with a notary are Janoff's, Citibank, Claremont Chemist, and the UPS Stores.
If social security or Medicare taxes were withheld in error, you can file a claim from the IRS. Sprintax can prepare the forms for you for a fee, or you can file IRS Form 843 on your own, separate from the tax return.
If you realize that you made an error on this year's or a previous year's tax return, you can file an amended return. Sprintax can do it for you for a fee, or you can try to do it yourself by completing IRS Form 1040-X, in which you compare the amounts in the original form you filed with the new correct form form.
Complete Your State Tax Return, If Applicable
After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if your income necessitates a state tax return as well. If so, you choose to use Sprintax for an individual fee of $29.95. However, it is optional and you may choose to do the state tax return on your own.
Remember that each state has its own income tax regulations and forms. New York State residency rules are different than those of the Internal Revenue Service. You may be a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes but be a resident for state tax purposes. Learn more about a NY State Tax return at our U.S. Income Tax Basics page.
Mail Your Completed Tax Forms By the Deadline
Deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020 because of COVID-19
Remember to read the detailed mailing instructions that Sprintax provides, and mail by the deadline:
- April 15, 2020 if you have a tax return reporting income;
- June 15, 2020 if you had no income and your 8843 is the only form you are obligated to file.
If you have dependents, each one must mail their 8843 in a separate envelope.