Tax Information for International Students and Visiting Academic Staff

Quick Facts:

  • In the United States, everyone files "tax returns" between February and mid-April for income from the previous calendar year.
  • Tax returns are due April 15 every year or the next business day after that if April 15 is a holiday. (They must be postmarked by this date, not received.)
  • The Office of Global Learning provides tax software for internationals every year (called SPRINTAX) to enable you to do your U.S. federal tax filing for free with our code!
  • The SPRINTAX software is available in late February or early March every year, AFTER Cornell sends out the 1042-S forms. See explanation of 1042-S forms below.
  • We will send out reminder emails to all international students with information on how to get the code you will need to use the software.
  • WAIT to file with the SPRINTAX software. You cannot use Turbo-Tax or other "resident" tax softwares as a non-resident for tax purposes. Am I a non-resident for tax purposes?
  • WAIT to file until you have received all of the necessary forms (see explanations of "W-2" and "1042-S" below). Cornell sends out the 1042-S forms in early March.
  • FRAUD ALERT!!! Beware of scammers pretending to be the U.S. federal tax agency (IRS)!

Do I need to file a tax return?

You will need to file a U.S. federal tax return if:

  • If you received any U.S.-based income in the previous calendar year (wages, fellowship for living expenses, or a travel grant).
  • If you did not receive any U.S. based income (wages, fellowships or grants) at all in the tax year (January 1st - December 31st), then you do not need to file a federal or state tax return. Instead, you are expected to complete an "8843 form" which simply records your days of presence inside the U.S., but there is no penalty for filing this form in a later year (e.g. with a future tax return in a subsequent year when you do have income).

You may use the tax software that the Office of Global Learning provides to Cornell international students and employees for filing your federal tax return as long as you continue to be a non-resident for U.S. federal tax purposes.

AFTER you read the information on this page, find instructions for accessing the SPRINTAX software here or follow the link at the bottom of this page.

Locate this paperwork before you use the tax software!

Access instructions for the SPRINTAX Software Here.

W-2 and 1042-S

U.S. employers issue anyone who works during any calendar year a W-2, mailed to you in January after the end of the calendar year. While you are a non-resident for federal tax purposes, if you receive non-wage income, or if you have any type of income (including wages) that is tax exempt because your country has a tax treaty with the U.S., then you should receive a 1042-S in March.

Please contact the Cornell payroll office (call 607-255-5194 for W-2 questions; call 607-255-9465 or email for 1042-S questions) or your other employer if you have not yet received the W-2 or 1042-S or if you have any questions about these forms.

New York State Tax Forms

After you have filled out the federal forms using the SPRINTAX software, you will have an option to use the software to fill out the state forms if you need to.  The software will charge you a $26 fee.  If you do not want to pay the fee, you can get the forms from the New York State tax site to complete your state taxes. You will not be able to complete your New York State (NYS) until you have  completed your federal tax form. 

Need an extension of the tax deadline?

Turbo-Tax Warning!

  • I just realized that I completed my taxes incorrectly because I used Turbo-Tax and it created RESIDENT forms for me when I am really a NON-resident for US federal tax purposes. What should I do now?

    Any international who is a non-resident for tax purposes should NOT file tax returns using TURBO-Tax.

  • If you realize now that you filed your taxes incorrectly, follow these steps:

    — If you filed resident forms and you should have filed non-resident forms, log into the SPRINTAX software and complete the forms correctly and print them out with the instruction sheet.
    — Download a 1040X form from the IRS website.
    — Download the instructions for Form 1040X.
    — Complete the sections on what you did do and what you should have done.
    — Attach a copy of the incorrect form AND a copy of the correct form that you printed out from the software.
    — Mail it to the address listed on the instruction sheet.
    — If you have any questions while you are using the software, submit your question on the SPRINTAX preparation website.