2. Do I need to file a US tax return for 2020? What do I need to file?
It’s important to be aware that, as a non-resident student in the US, you’re legally required to file a tax form (8843) even if you didn’t work or receive income in the US if you were present in the US during the calendar year 2020.
And, if you earned income in the US in 2020,you must also file a Federal Tax Return and, in some cases, a StateTax Return.
3. What forms do I need to fill out Sprintax?
A helpful summary of forms required for tax-filing can be found in the attached Sprintax instructions, and are explained in more detail in the Sprintax Webinar, however, there a few forms that would be helpful to familiarize yourself with before you start.
First, you will need a list of your travel dates to and from the US. A helpful summary that may contain most or all of your travel history can be found by downloading your I-94 Travel History Record.
Additionally, if you worked on campus during 2020, please be sure to download your Form W-2 from Tufts eServe: https://access.tufts.edu/eserve. You will need it to file your tax return. If you worked off-campus in 2020, you will need to contact your employer if you have not yet received your Form W-2 from them.
IMPORTANT: If you have received a scholarship for room and board or a stipend for living expenses from Tufts University, or if you had income that was tax-exempt due to a tax treaty with your country of residence, you will receive an email with a link to download a Form 1042-S by March 15, 2021. If you received a scholarship for room/board or living expenses in 2020 and have not received an email to access your Form 1042-S, do not try to enter your scholarship information on your own! Please contact Tufts Support Services at firstname.lastname@example.org check on the status of your Form 1042-S.
4. I filled in my US entry dates in Sprintax, but it determined that I am now a resident for tax-filing purposes. Now what?
Sprintax can only prepare tax returns for students and scholars who are considered non-residents for tax purposes by the IRS. Generally, students are considered non-residents for their first five calendar years in the US, and scholars are considered non-residents for their first two calendar years in the US. If you are not sure if you are considered a resident or non-resident for tax purposes, do not worry! You can enter your information in Sprintax for free to determine your tax residency status. If you are found to be a resident for tax purposes, you may use any tax-filing software or accountant available to US residents:https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free. *
*Those determined to be non-residents should not use any software other than Sprintax, to avoid misfiling as a resident.**
5.I put in the code provided by Tufts, but am still being charged a fee. Why?
The Tufts University code for Sprintax covers only the fee for filing a Federal Tax Return and/or Form 8843. Sprintax can determine if you must also file a State Tax Return and, if so, can prepare it for you for an additional fee. If you do not wish to use Sprintax for filing the State Tax Return, you may file separately on your own, while still using Sprintax for filing your Federal taxes for free.
6. Are there any unique circumstances related to COVID-19 that I should be aware of when preparing my taxes for 2020?
Yes. There are a few unique tax situations that have come about due to the pandemic that you should be aware of as you prepare your tax return, including:
If you received financial assistance from the University related to COVID-19, including the cost of an airline ticket to depart the US when the campus closed in March 2020, you may be taxed on the amount of the assistance you received. You may receive a form 1099 from the University with a summary of the amount of aid you received, and would need to include this as an “Other Income.” If you have not received a 1099, but had a ticket or other aid purchased or provided for you, you should include the amount as “Other Income.” If you have any questions about whether or not you should include an assistance amount as income, please use the LiveChat function in Sprintax to verify.
If you worked for the University or another employer remotely from outside the US during 2020, the amount you earned while physically outside the US may not be included on your W-2, and you may not owe US tax on it. You may, however, owe tax in your country of residence. If you are uncertain about the amounts include on your W-2, you can contact Tufts Support Services at email@example.com to verify, and also utilize the LiveChat function in Sprintax to make sure you are being taxed on the correct amounts.
If you erroneously received a stimulus payment from the US government, you may need to return the amount with your tax return. Non-residents are not eligible for the stimulus payments that went out in 2020, however, many received payments in error. Please use the LiveChat function in Sprintax when preparing your return to verify if you need to return your stimulus payment and, if so, how to include the repayment to ensure it is properly credited. Failure to return the payment – even if you received it at no fault of your own – could be considered fraudulent tax-filing by the IRS, and the government may request the funds back from you, including penalties, at a later date.