Filing Your Resident Tax Return

If you were physically in the U.S. anytime between January 1 - December 31, 2018 and you had income in the U.S. or abroad, you may have to file a U.S. resident tax return by April 15, 2019.

Filing Taxes

Avoid Tax Fraud!

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

Not sure if you're a resident or nonresident for federal tax purposes? 

You can use Sprintax to determine your tax status.

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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.

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Learn more! Watch this section of our 2018 Tax Workshop on using Sprintax.

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. and in which visa status going back over a number of years, it will inform you of your tax status.

  • If you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you will not be able to use Sprintax, but you have many other resources.
  • If you are a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes, you cannot file a resident tax return but 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 $66,000 or less. See the Free File page on the IRS web site.
  • The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance free e-filing.
  • Commercial tax preparation software such as TurboTax, Taxback, and TaxAct
  • Do it yourself! The federal tax return form for residents is the 1040.  Link to the 1040 instructions here.
  • Any certified public accountants or tax-preparers for in-person assistance
Step 4.

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 federal tax status rules.

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