In general, international students and scholars in nonimmigrant visa classifications must pay city, state and federal taxes if employed by Southeastern Louisiana University. However, in certain instances they may be exempted because of tax treaties between the United States and their home countries, or if their employment can be considered a fellowship, as defined by the IRS.
Tax determinations are complex and do not always follow the categories of immigration law. Depending on the particular circumstances, an international student or scholar in F-1 or J-1 status could be considered a "nonresident alien for tax purposes"; under other circumstances, the same nonimmigrant could be considered a "resident alien for tax purposes." Most F-1 and J-1 students are considered to be nonresidents for taxation purposes during their first five years of presence in the US. J-1 scholars are considered to be non-residents for taxation purposes during their first two years of presence in the US. It is important to note that these are calendar years, so if you arrive at any point in a year, even on December 30, that will count as the first year of presence.
In addition, students in F-1 and J-1 status do not pay US Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes for the first five calendar years of presence in the US. Scholars in J-1 status are exempt from FICA for the first two calendar years of presence in the US. After that point, they become resident taxpayers and are subject to FICA withholdings. Holders of H-1B status are subject to FICA withholdings, and are generally considered to be tax residents after their first six months of presence in the US.
Filing State and Federal Taxes
Each year, individuals who earn income in the U.S. are required to file a U.S. federal tax return to the IRS and a state tax return to their state's revenue service office. The deadline to file federal taxes each year is April 15. The deadline for LA state filing is May 15.
The International Services Office holds a Tax Workshop each year before the filing deadlines to assist F-1 and J-1 students with filing. Students will be contacted and an announcement will be posted on the ISO homepage once dates and times are confirmed.
International students who receive certain taxable scholarships have 14% withheld for each disbursement of funding each semester in accordance with IRS policy. Students in this category will receive a Form 1042-S that reports the withholding to file with their taxes each year.
In certain instances, you may be exempt from paying some or all federal taxes because of a tax treaty between the U.S. and your home country. Federal tax treaties have no effect on state tax laws. Time limits, amount of exemption and non-immigrant status determines your benefits.
To see if your country has a tax treaty with the U.S., please consult Publication 901 of the Internal Revenue Service. You may also want to contact the ISO for further information.