Filing Your Non-Resident Tax Forms using Sprintax (F and J)
Before You File
We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for non-resident students, scholars, alumni and their dependents in the U.S. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.
Before you begin, get some background information on U.S. Income Tax Basics.
After you login to Sprintax, it will ask you a series of questions about the the time you have spent in the United States and in which immigration status, looking back over a period of years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a "nonresident alien" (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use it to respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will complete and generate the forms you need to print, sign, and mail to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
If it determines you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won't be able to continue using it, but we have prepared a list of resources for filing a resident tax return.
If you had no U.S. Income: Just one requirement, Form 8843
The 8843 is an informational statement IRS requires to show you were in the U.S. and are a NonResident Alien (NRA). Sprintax will generate mailing instructions and a filled-in 8843 for you to print, sign and date, and mail to the IRS.
If you had U.S. Income: Federal Tax Return Documents
Sprintax will generate your tax return documents, a 1040NR-EZ or the 1040NR dependent upon your personal situation, along with the 8843. A tax return is a reconciliation between tax that has been withheld and tax that is owed--sometimes you get a refund and other times you may owe the government money to make up for the shortfall.
If you had U.S. Income: April 17, 2018
If you had no U.S. Income (Form 8843 only): June 15, 2018
How to File Your Non-Resident Tax Forms (F and J)
Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax
- Visa/Immigration information, including form I-20 (F status) or form DS-2019 (J status)
- Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if you have one)
- This is not needed if you had no income and the 8843 is the only form you have to file.
- This form reports your wage earnings if you worked. If you had more than one employer you should get a W-2 from each employer. It is issued by the end of January for the previous year. Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date address for you. If you worked for Columbia, go to W-2 Information to learn how to access an electronic copy.
- This form is used to report:
- stipend, scholarship, fellowship income and travel grants (not tuition reduction or exemption)
- income covered by a tax treaty
- payment for other types of services (e.g. by the semester as a note-taker)
- U.S. entry and exit dates for current and past visits to the U.S.
- In addition to passport stamps, you can review or print your U.S.travel history here
- This form reports miscellaneous income. Can be interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, earning through freelance employment
- This form is is NOT needed and can NOT be used for a nonresident tax return because NRAs are not eligible to claim education expense tax credits.
- 1095-A, 1095-B, 1095-C
- These forms report healthcare coverage and are not needed for a NonResident tax return.
*You may receive or not receive this document depending on your personal situation.
Create a Sprintax account
Access Sprintax through the Columbia University Portal here using your UNI and password. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password.
Sprintax will save your information so you can log in and out without starting over. Also, if you use Sprintax in subsequent years your information will carry over.
Follow their instructions
If You Had No U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).
With U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents", including either a 1040NR-EZ or a longer form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances. If you have any dependents, Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for each of your dependents.
(With U.S. income only) If required, complete your state tax return
After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, they will give you the option to use Sprintax for an individual fee. However, it is your choice to use them or 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 considered a resident for state tax purposes.
- Undergraduate students in a degree program are always considered to be nonresidents by NY State
- The tax residency status of graduate students and J scholars is determined by the number of days you spent in NY during the tax year (more or less than 183 days) and whether you had a place to live for at least 11 months. Page 2 of the 2009 amendment for the undergraduate exception states that “the amendment does not provide an exception for graduate students pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree."
- For more information, see NY State tax definitions and the part of the Tax Workshop presentation regarding state taxes.
You may be able to e-file a NY State tax return for free, but you’ll need to know whether you’re a non-resident or resident.
Mail your completed federal forms to IRS
Remember to read the mailing instructions that Sprintax provides.
If you have dependents, each one must mail their 8843 in a separate envelope.
The VP of Sprintax will be on-campus to provide a general overview of the U.S. tax-filing process, show how to use Sprintax for your federal nonresident tax return, with time for Q & A at the end.
The last of the 3 Tax Workshops:
Thursday, March 29 from 3:00 - 4:00 pm
Davis Auditorium, Room 412 Schapiro (CEPSR)
Can't attend? Watch our 2018 Sprintax Tax Workshop in its entirety or by specific topics you're not clear on.
Need Sprintax Support?
If you need help while using Sprintax, contact them:
- 24/7 Live Chat Help
- Refer to their FAQs
- email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 1-866-601-5695
Looking for More Help?
If you situation is complex and you need more guidance, here are some professionals you may want to hire:
Alan Koslin, Non-Resident Alien Tax Specialist
H & R Block
360 West 31st Street, NY, NY
(between 8th and 9th Avenues)
Gary R. Engler, CPA
11845 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Main Number (310) 440-5557
Gary Engler’s office will process both federal and state tax returns, or just state returns if you provide a complete federal tax return. Fees for services are listed on his website.
Do You Need A Notary Public?
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', Ctibank, Claremont Chemist, and the UPS Stores.