Filing Your Resident Tax Return

If you were physically in the U.S. anytime between January 1 - December 31, 2016 and you had income in the U.S. or abroad, you may have to file a U.S. resident tax return by April 15, 2017.

Filing Taxes

Before You File

To avoid tax fraud, be sure you are a resident alien for tax purposes before you file a resident tax return.

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How to Use Sprintax to Determine Your Tax Status

Steps to fill your resident tax return
Step 1.

Create a Sprintax account (it's free through our portal).

Access Sprintax through the Columbia University Portal 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.

Step 2.

See if Sprintax determines you are a resident for tax purposes.

After you respond to their questions about time you've spent in the U.S. over a number of years, it will inform you if you are a resident right away. If you are a non-resident, you can continue to use Sprintax to complete a non-resident tax return.

Step 3.

If you are a resident for tax purposes here are some resources to help you file your tax return:

  • The IRS provides a good overview in Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
  • "Free File" online federal tax preparation and electronic filing through the IRS for individuals with an adjusted gross income of $62,000 or less. See the Free File page on the IRS web site.
  • The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance free e-filing
  • Free tax assistance through New York Public Libraries
  • Commercial tax preparation software such as TurboTax, Taxback, and TaxAct
  • Do it yourself! The federal tax return forms for residents are the 1040EZ or the 1040. As the name implies, the 1040EZ is a very simple form to complete. Find the one-page form and instructions here.
  • Any certified public accountants or tax-preparers for in-person assistance
Step 4.

If required, you may need to complete a state tax return

Keep in mind 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.

If you use an online tax preparation system, after completing your federal tax return, it should guide you to complete your state tax return.