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2017 Tax Filing Information (Tax Year 2016)

tax information for international students and scholars for the 2016 calendar tax year

Important: This information is provided as guidance only and is not intended to be tax advice. The staff of the OISS is NOT qualified to answer individual questions from international students/scholars regarding taxes. For those non-residents who have to file taxes, the OISS has purchased the Windstar tax preparation software to prepare federal and Massachusetts State forms.  If you have additional questions please consult the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), local and state tax agencies or a tax professional for advice and guidance regarding their individual tax situations.

Since we have a very limited number of Windstar passwords please read the information below very carefully to determine if you need to request access to Windstar.

Step 1: Determine if you are a resident or non-resident for Federal Tax purposes for the 2016 tax year.

F-1 and J-1 Students: Have you been in the U.S. for any part of five calendar years or less (not including 2017)? (see example below for calendar years)

  •  YES, I have been in the U.S. for five calendar years or less.   I am considered a non-resident; proceed to step 2.
  •  NO, I have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years. I am subject to something called a ‚ÄúSubstantial Presence Test". I am most likely are considered resident alien for tax purposes and am NOT eligible for Windstar Tax Preparation Software. Please see additional resources section for assistance. 
  • NOT SURE: If you are still confused and have worked at BC contact BC Human Resources Service Center at 617 552 4772, hrsc@bc.edu or visit the office on the Brighton Campus at 129 Lake St. They can use their software to determine if you are a resident or non-resdient. If you have not worked at BC please see the additional resources section for assistance

How to count calendar years example:
Student who begins study in the U.S. in September 2012:
Sep-Dec 2012= 1 year
2013= year 2
2014= year 3
2015= year 4
2016= year 5
=  In the U.S. for 5 seperate calendar years so the student is considered a non- resident for tax year 2016, since the rule is 5 years OR LESS. Note: 2012 counts as one 1 year because any days counted wtihin that year count as a tax year.

 

Step 2: Complete Form 8843 - This is required For All Non-Residents (see above) even if you have not received income in the U.S.

All NON-resident international students and scholars are required by law to complete form 8843, even if you did NOT earn income in the U.S.  If you did not earn money in the U.S. in 2016, the 8843 is the only form you must complete. Please see OISS instructions for filling out and mailing the 8843 for help completing the form. (Note: Students and scholars who were paid by BC will be receiving a pre-printed 8843 from BC Human Resources at the end of February.) You will NOT need access to Windstar Tax Preparation software to complete this form if this is the only form that you will complete. If you earned money in the U.S. please proceed to Step 3.

 

Step 3: Determine if you will need to file Federal Taxes (This information applies to non-residents only)

In addition to Form 8843, you are required to file a tax return if you answer "yes" to any of the following questions:

1. Have you received a scholarship or non-service stipend in 2016 above and beyond tuition remission (to cover living expenses etc.)?

2. Have you received a  fellowship grant from a U.S. source that exceeded the amount of your tuition and fees? This information is located on the 1042-S form (see information below about the 1042-S form)*   You will receive this form the last week of February.

3. Have you EARNED more than $4,050 in INCOME in the U.S. IN 2016? Income is any U.S. job, on-campus or off campus, including a teaching assistantship or a research assistantship. This information is located on a Form W-2 and the 1042-S form if you have a tax treaty. (See information below about the W-2 and 1042-S form)*

  • If YES you WILL need to file federal taxes (including those with tax treaties who earned MORE than $4,050. Proceed to step 4  
  •  If NO to questions 1 and 2. STOP -you are NOT required to file taxes. You are only required to fill out Form 8843 and you are done! You will NOT need a Windstar password.  Note: If you earned less than $4,050 and had federal taxes withheld, you may still file- you may be eligible for a refund using WINDSTAR.

Note: If you only received U.S. bank interest in 2016 and no other income you do not have to file federal taxes. 

*1042-S Form: This form is issued to you if you have worked on campus AND it was covered under a tax treaty between your home country and the U.S. You will also receive the form if you received a tuition scholarship or non-service stipend in 2016.  For all students living off campus, the 1042-S form is mailed to you from the BC Human Resources Service Center the last week of February along with the 8843 form (see above). All students living on campus should receive an email to pick up your forms at 129 Lake Street on the Brighton Campus. 

W-2 Form:  The W-2 form is issued at the end of January if you have worked in the U.S.  You will receive one from each seperate employer if you have worked for more than one.  The deadline for your employer to send your W-2 form to you is January 31, 2017. Note: Those who signed a tax treaty will only receive a W-2 if you earned more than the treaty allowance. Otherwise, you will receive the 1042-S only. 

If you have any questions about the information on your W-2 or 1042-S form or if you have not received these forms by the date indicated, please contact BC Human Resources Service Center at 617 552 4772, email hrsc@bc.edu or visit the HRSC at 129 Lake St. on the Brighton Campus. Your Boston College W-2 can also be accessed online at https://w2.adp.com.  If you have worked off-campus you should contact your specific employer.

 

Step 4:  Based on the information above, I WILL need to complete the 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR as a NON-resident by April 15, 2017.

If you meet the above criteria and need to file taxes as a NON-resident you will be eligible to use the Windstar Tax Preparation Program to file your federal and Massachusetts State taxes.  Note: Free software programs such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block are only work for those considered residents for tax purposes.

We are only able to offer the Windstar service to a limited number of people on a first come first serve basis. Because numbers are very limited, please DO NOT register for Windstar unless you have read through the steps outlined above and meet the criteria. Once you claim a access code we cannot give the number to anyone else even if you do not use it. 

To register to use the software please click here. You will be prompted to login with your BC User ID and Password. You will then be given a registration code and the link to the website that contains the Windstar Software. You will create your own username and password on this page to login to the software from then on. If you created a username and password last year, you will be able to use the same password using the new registration code. Keep your username and password in a safe place.  If you lose your password you can request a new one through the Windstar login site. If you lose your username please contact the OISS and do NOT request a new account.

If you used the software last year:

  • You will use the same username and password again this year. You will simply need to reactivate your login. You can do this by going to the registration page here to receive your new access code. Then follow the link on this page to the tax software webpage. On the right hand side you will see "Did your access code change? Click here to reactivate your account." Click on the link and input your old username and password as well as your new access code. Submit this form. Then you should be able to go back to the tax software homepage and use your old login information.
  • If you used the software last year but have forgotten your username or password, please follow the "forgot username or password" steps from the tax software homepage. After you have retrieved this information, use it to reactivate your account as described in the preceding paragraph.

To access the site in the future: You MUST access the software using this link.  After you are on the Windstar site, click the registration link on the right half of the screen. Then use the registration code that you were given in order to register.

For more information or technical help please email bcis@bc.edu.   

 

Additional Resources:

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Boston Office: The IRS office in Boston has appointments available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The Boston Office is located on the 7th floor of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Federal Building in Government Center, 15 New Sudbury St. Boston MA.  Appointments can be made calling (844) 545 5640. It is recommended that you use all online resources, the IRS help line listed below and the IRS VITA program before making an appointment with the Boston Office.

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): You can call the IRS national help line at (800) 829-1040. You can also visit their web site at http://www.irs.gov .

IRS VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance): There are locations near BC in Brighton and Allston which provide free tax help to those making less than $54,000 in 2016.  There are some locations which offer help in a few other languages such as Spanish and Chinese. If you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes, please call ahead to ensure that there is someone available who can help you with non-resident taxes. To find a location and more information visit the IRS VITA locator page.

Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR): You can telephone the DOR statewide help line at (800) 392-6089 or call the Boston office at 617 887 6367. You can also visit their Web site at http://www.dor.state.ma.us/.

For Massachusetts STATE taxes, international students are most likely considered a resident. Massachusetts does have a FREE user friendly e-filing system.  The webpage has a few questions to check your eligibility for using the program before you create a login. You are generally only required to fill out state forms if you had an income greater than $8000, however everyone who received a W-2 form and had Massachusetts tax withheld on the W-2 form can file to get money back.

Note: If you decide to contact your own tax accountant or attorney or a tax provider such as H&R Block, make sure that they specialize specifically in taxes for non-residents if you are a non-resident. Free online programs such as Turbo Tax do NOT work for non-residents.

 

For Students who are considered residents for tax purposes and are not eligible for Windstar:

In additional to the resources listed above, there are many free online programs available for those students and scholars who are considered residents for tax purposes such as Turbo Tax, H&R Block and many more. They will generally be free if you manually enter the information on your W-2 form and file your state taxes separately (see information below on free e-file for Massachusetts state tax filing.

For Massachusetts STATE taxes, international students are most likely considered a resident. Massachusetts does have a FREE user friendly e-filing system. The webpage has a few questions to check your eligiblity for using the program before you create a login. You are generally only required to fill out state forms if you had an income greater than $8000, however everyone who received a W-2 form and had Massachusetts tax withheld on the W-2 form can file to get money back.