U.S. Tax Information for International Students and Scholars

Who must file tax forms for the 2019 tax season?

If you were physically in the U.S. in F or J status anytime between January 1 - December 31, 2019 you're obligated to send one form, Form 8843, to the U.S. tax agency IRS (Internal Revenue Service), even if you had no income. For the 2019 tax season, if you earn over $0 of US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

Tax Filing Deadline:

April 15th, 2020 is the last day for residents and non-residents who earned U.S. income to file Federal tax returns for 2019.

Resident or Non-Resident for Federal Tax Purposes:

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered non-residents for tax purposes. International undergraduate students on J1 & F1 visas are automatically considered non-resident for their first 5 calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for 2 out of the last 6 calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the 5 or 2 year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

How to File:

We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for non-resident students and scholars in the U.S. We (and all other university staff) are not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you login to Sprintax, it will ask you a series of questions about 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 "Non-Resident 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 the software.

Step by Step guide on How to File Your Non-Resident Tax Forms (F and J)

1)      Gather the documents you may need for Sprintax

2)      Create a Sprintax Account:

You will receive an email from the international student office providing you with a link to the USF Sprintax page, and this is where you will set up your account. This page will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you. Open your new Sprintax account by creating a UserID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can log in using your existing credentials.

3)      Follow the Sprintax 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.

4)      If required, complete your state tax return (with U.S. income only) 

After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. This will only apply to you if you earned income in a state with an income tax in 2019; the State of Florida has no state income tax. If this page applies to you, 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.

5)      Mail your completed federal and/or state forms to IRS and/or state tax authorities

Remember to read the mailing instructions that Sprintax provides. If you have dependents, each one must mail their 8843 in a separate envelope.

Need Sprintax Support?

If you need help while using Sprintax, contact them:

24/7 Live Chat Help

Refer to their FAQs

Email at

Sprintax Educational Tax Videos and Blog:

You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on Non-Resident taxes to provide further clarity on the subject of using Sprintax and Non-Resident Taxes. There is also a Sprintax Blog which go through tax-related topics and can be of use to you.

Tax Resources at USF

Understanding Tax Requirements in the U.S. for International Students and Scholars

The Office of International Services hosts a session called Understanding Tax Requirements in the U.S. for International Students and Scholars. This session is meant for students and scholars who are completing taxes in the United States for the first time, and covers general FAQ as well as a brief Sprintax tutorial. This spring's sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Thursday, February 6th from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM in BEH 255
  • Thursday, February 20th from 2:00-3:00 PM in BEH 255

Sprintax Software Assistance Sessions and IRS VITA at USF

At this time, all university-sponsored events on campus, including the Sprintax Software Assistance Sessions and the IRS VITA at USF sessions in the Marshall Student Center, have been postponed until a later date. Please direct all software usage questions to the team of non-resident tax professionals via the Sprintax live chat feature. It is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Office of International Services will communicate any supplemental virtual tax preparation resources to international students and scholars via email in the weeks ahead.


The Office of International Services and the University of South Florida are NOT permitted to assist any student or scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax-related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.