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Tax Filing Basics & FAQs

The tax deadline is usually April 15th of each year.  Taxes are computed on a calendar-year basis (January 1st - December 31st) based on the amount and types of income earned during that calendar year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find information to help me understand the difference between a Resident Alien and a Nonresident Alien for tax purposes?

It's important to understand if you will be filing as a Resident Alien or Nonresident Alien for tax purposes. Sprintax Calculus online tax software will determine this for you.

There is also helpful information on the UMass Treasurer's Office website.

I did not earn an income during the previous calendar year—but I was physically present in the U.S.  Do I still need to file a federal tax return?

The requirement to file a federal tax return is based on receiving income from U.S. sources - not on receiving "money". Income can include, but is not limited to: wages, salary, free housing, travel reimbursement (i.e. to or from a conference), scholarship, stipend, per diem, prize, award, gambling winnings. Income does not have to be paid to you as a check or cash. Generally, if you did not receive any income from U.S. sources, you are not required to file a U.S. tax return; however, if you are a Nonresident Alien who is present in the U.S. under an F, J, M or Q immigration status, you are required to file Form 8843, regardless of whether or not you have received any income.

The purpose of the Form 8843 is to confirm your non-resident tax status in the U.S. You will see that it is a very short form asking for your basic information. It should not take very long to complete. You need to complete the form online, print it out, sign it and then mail it to the Internal Revenue Service at the address provided in the form instructions.

This form cannot be sent electronically or e-filed. Be sure to file the  Form 8843 by April 15th.

If I DID earn income last year, how do I file my taxes?

If you earned taxable income during the prior year, you will receive a Form W-2 from all employers from the prior year, including the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School (UMass Chan).  This form provides a summary of the taxable income you earned from your employer and the taxes withheld (already paid) to the federal and state governments. If you do not receive a W-2, you may have been on a tax treaty that applied to 100% of your income, in which case you should receive a Form 1042-S AND/OR Form 1099 confirming your earnings.

If you did receive a W-2 but were on a tax treaty that exempted a portion of your salary from being taxed, you will also receive a Form 1042-S OR a Form 1099 which will confirm the portion of your income that was not taxable. The Form 1042-S from UMass Chan will be available electronically in Sprintax Calculus, or if you chose not to receive electronic forms in Sprintax Calculus, you should receive this document in the mail by mid-February.

Generally, the income tax rate for non-residents (for tax purposes) is approximately 30%, unless you are eligible for a tax treaty which lessens your tax burden. Information on tax treaty eligibility is available online with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (; please refer to Publication 519 “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens” and Publication 901 “U.S. Tax Treaties” . 

I can’t find the mailing address for the tax forms. Where do I send it?

The mailing address for the Form 8843 is listed on page 3 of the Form 8843 under “When and Where to File”.

The mailing address for Form 1040 is listed on page 9 of the filing instructions.

Do I have to file Massachusetts Income taxes?

If your Massachusetts gross income for the prior calendar year was more than $8,000, you will be required to file a Massachusetts personal income tax return.  

Please note that if you resided in another state during the prior calendar year, you must check with that state to determine the income tax filing requirements.

NOTE: State income taxes should NOT be mailed with your Federal tax forms. Each state will have its own separate filing location.  Check the state income tax form instructions for correct mailing address to send the completed forms.

Sprintax is a reliable software which helps Nonresident Aliens file MA income tax for a small fee. Some individuals may also qualify to use FreeTaxUSA®, a free online income tax preparation and e-file system that offers both federal and state tax filing. 

Do I file taxes differently if I'm a Nonresident or Resident Alien for tax purposes?

Yes, follow the instructions below:

If you are a Resident Alien for U.S. tax purposes you will file your taxes like a U.S. person.

Turbo Tax, H&R Block tax accountants and CPAs or any other tax filing service can be used.

If you are a Nonresident Alien for U.S. tax purposes, you are eligible to use Sprintax for your federal tax return.

UMass Chan Medical School is proud to provide our Nonresident Alien student, researcher, and employee population with this comprehensive online resource for completing their U.S. taxes.

Sprintax provides easy-to-use federal tax preparation software along with extensive, searchable content to help you understand your tax obligations.

With Sprintax you can:

  • Determine your tax residency status (Resident/Nonresident or dual status)
  • Prepare either your 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ
  • Find out about tax treaty benefits

Sprintax software is free for UMass Chan students and employees.  Once the software becomes available (generally in mid-February) those who qualify as Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes will receive an email from Sprintax with further instructions on how to access this resource. You will not receive this email if you were a Resident Alien for tax purposes in the prior year.

Can the ISO file my tax return for me?

NO; It is the individual's responsibility to report income and pay taxes. ISO staff are neither tax preparers nor accountants, therefore we are not legally able to give tax advice. However, we do provide you with resources to assist you in completing your income tax filing requirements. If you want professional assistance in filing your income tax returns, you can hire professional tax preparers or accountants, for a fee, to assist you.

I'm currently living outside of the U.S. Do I have to file taxes if I was in the U.S. last year?

If you were physically present in the U.S. for one or more days during the prior calendar year (January 1st - December 31st) are required by law to file a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return if you earned income. Please refer to the question "If I DID earn income last year, how do I file my taxes?" for further information.

If you earned no U.S. sourced income but held F, J, M or Q status in U.S. in the prior year, you will need to file Form 8843 to document your Nonresident Alien tax status in the U.S. Please refer to the question "I did not earn an income during the previous calendar year, but I was physically present in the U.S. Do I still need to file a federal tax return?" for additional information.

How do I get a refund of Social Security or Medicare taxes withheld in error?

If you are in F-1 (student) status or J-1 Exchange Visitor (Student, research scholar, short-term scholar, student intern, or professor categories), are eligible to file your federal tax return as a Nonresident Alien, and had Social Security or Medicare Taxes withheld in error, please visit the IRS Frequently Asked Questions website for information on requesting a refund of those taxes that were withheld in error.