Can OISS Help Me With My Taxes?

Unfortunately, OISS is not able to assist with tax advice or filing in any way.

Scholars and students are fully responsible for filing their own taxes. OISS advisors do not have any training or certifications regarding taxes or the tax filing process, and therefore we are unfortunately unable to provide you with any assistance or guidance.

However, we know that filing your taxes can be confusing. Below, we've gathered some information and resources below. This webpage is provided solely for informational purposes.

Do I need to file taxes?

Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the US on F or J status anytime between 1 January – 31 December, you're obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities). 

Meanwhile, if you earned more than $0 of taxable 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). 

What is the tax filing deadline?

The tax deadline is usually in April each year. Check the IRS website for the official deadline. 

Who is considered Resident or Nonresident for Federal Tax Purposes?

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. International students on J-1 & F-1 visas are automatically considered nonresident for their first five calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the US. If you’ve been in the US for longer than the five or two year periods, the IRS Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

Resources For Filing Your Taxes


OISS does not endorse any one company or accountant - please select and use tax services at your own discretion. Some tax services, like Sprintax, are able to assist nonresidents. Other services, like Turbo Tax, are only able to assist residents.

OISS is not responsible for any advice or tax preparation information provided below. This webpage is provided solely for informational purposes. Ultimately, we recommend that you contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you have questions regarding your tax status. 

Government Resources

Below you will find some general federal and state tax resources found through the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State of California Franchise Tax Board.

Federal Taxes

Federal taxes are collected by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS website has a page specifically for international students and scholars here. This site is very comprehensive. Most people prepare their Federal Tax return first, since you will need information from you return to complete your State return.

State Taxes

State taxes are collected by the California state government. The State of California Franchise Tax Board website has instructions and forms for filing State income tax returns. They have also provided some helpful resources:

GLACIER Tax Preparation (GTP)

This year, UCSB Graduate Division is providing UCSB international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with free access to GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP). It's an online system designed to help nonresident aliens prepare their federal tax return. For more information, visit this page.

Sprintax Tax Preparation Software 

Sprintax is a web-based tax tool (affiliated with TurboTax) tailored specifically to the needs of non-resident students, scholars, teachers, researchers, trainees and other international education visitors with visa types F, H, J, L, M, Q and green card immigration status. Students and scholars are welcome to use or consult with the tax preparation service of their choosing; Sprintax is not the only service available. 

Sprintax guides the user through each part of the tax return process and applies all relevant tax treaties and credits available to international students and scholars. You can create an account for free. There is a fee to file your taxes. UCSB students & scholars may use the following discount code to receive $5.00 off of their Federal filing fees: 5UCSB500F23

Sprintax has provided a guide to help you get started. More information can be found on their website. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Sorry, no. We do wish we could provide more tax services for our international Gauchos, but unfortunately OISS staff legally cannot provide tax advice. 

We always encourage you to provide feedback to campus leadership about needs for more resources.  While we do our best to convey this need, the messaging from students & scholars is always heard louder and stronger.

If you have additional questions regarding your specific situation, we recommend contacting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at (800) 829-1040. You may also contact the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) for questions about state taxes at (800) 852-5711. 

The deadline for the IRS to receive your tax return can be found on the IRS website. You should have the following forms and information available when preparing to file:

• Visa/Immigration Status information
• Passport
• Form DS-2019, if J status
• Form I-20, if F status
• Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), if you have been assigned one
• Address information (Current U.S. and Foreign Address)
• U.S. Entry and Exit Dates for the current and past visits to the U.S.
• Forms W-2, 1042-S**, and/or 1099, if you received any
• Scholarship/fellowship grant letter, if you received any
• Copy of your 2012 federal income tax return, if you filed a federal income tax return last year
• Bank account number and routing number, or check, for direct deposit

While you are not required to file taxes, you are still required to file a Form 8843. All nonresident aliens who are present in the U.S. under F, J, M, or Q I-94 statuses at any point in the tax year are required to file this form. Form 8843 is not an income tax return but an informational statement required by the U.S. government. More information can be found on page 3-4 of the form.

However, if you are a nonresident who has earned income, you will file the Form 8843 in addition to Form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR.

If you choose to use Sprintax, Step 1 of the online questionnaire will determine whether you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes. If you do not use Sprintax, you will need to seek advice from a tax professional on your own. Sprintax is able to assist nonresidents while other services, like Tubo Tax only assist residents. OISS does not provide tax advice as we are not trained Certified Public Accountants (CPA). 

You could use an online tax preparation software, such as TurboTax or TaxAct. You can also visit the UCSB VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site for free assistance. Please make sure to bring your prior year’s tax return (if you have one) and ALL income tax forms.