Frequently Asked Questions

Most of your questions will be answered once you log in to the software and start working through the questions asked there, but you can find some of the frequent questions below.

General Questions

  • How does the income tax system work in the US?

    In the US, the tax year runs from January 1 to December 31 of any given year. Employers (or US payers of fellowships) are required to take money out of your paycheck or fellowship for taxes during that year. This process is called "withholding" money for taxes. That tax money is paid to the US federal tax department which is called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Cornell payroll office (or your other US employer) determines the amount to be "withheld" out of your paycheck based upon US tax treaties with your country and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations.  In January through March of every year, employers and universities report wages, scholarships, and tax withheld to the IRS during the previous year and send statements to individuals by March 15th every year. Individuals then determine what the correct amount of tax liability should be through a form called a "tax return form." The tax return form is due on April 15th every year (or the next working day after April 15) and that "return" covers the previous year's income.

  • What is a tax return?

    A "tax return" is a form you fill out and send in to the US Internal Revenue Service. The form is both for paying taxes that you may owe and also for getting back money that has been taken out of your paycheck.

  • How do I know if I need to file a US federal tax return?

    If you received any US based income (either from wages, or fellowship for living expenses, or a travel grant), you will need to file some US tax forms. The software will choose what other forms you need to file based on how you answer the questions once you are using the software.

  • Do I need to file if I didn't receive any income in the previous calendar year?

    If you did not receive any US based income (wages, fellowships or grants) at all in the US in the tax year (January 1st - December 31st), then it is not necessary for you to fill in US tax forms. If you did not earn income, you do NOT have to file the New York State taxes.

  • How will I know which forms to file?

    The software will choose what other forms you need to file based on how you answer the questions once you are using the software.

  • What is the deadline to file?

    Every year, the deadline is either April 15th or the next business day after April 15th. This year, there is a holiday in Washington DC on the 15th, so the deadline is for filng tax return forms is April 18, 2017.

  • How do I know if I am a "non-resident" for tax purposes?

    The tax software will help you determine if you are a resident or non-resident for tax purposes.  You can also read our information to determine if you are a non-resident for tax purposes, and what to do if you are a "resident" for tax purposes.

  • What kinds of income are taxable?

    The following types of income are taxable:
    — Scholarship, fellowship or grant from a US source that exceeded the amount of tuition and mandatory fees.
    — Wages from any US job, on-campus or off-campus, including a teaching or research assistantship.
    — Consulting Fees for work done in the US
    — Dividends and/or Capital Gains from ownership of US mutual funds or individual stocks or bonds
    — Any other income (such as rent, royalties, copyright earnings) from US sources…
    …EXCEPT for interest earned on a savings account or certificate of deposit in a US bank.

  • What are the W-2 and 1042-s forms?

    Employers and universities are required to report wages, scholarships, and tax money withheld from your paycheck to the IRS. The employers send statements to individuals by March 15th every year. There are many types of these statements, but the most common ones for international students and academic staff are these two forms:
    — W-2: Wage and Tax Statement and/or a
    — 1042S: Foreign Person’s US Source Income Subject to Withholding

  • What is a W-2 form?

    The W-2 form reports your wages you earned and any taxes the employer has withheld from your paycheck for federal or state taxes. If you earned income in the US, a W-2 should be sent to you by mid-February every year. Click here for the Cornell payroll office's information on W-2 forms.

  • What do I do if I didn't get a W-2 form?

    If you did not earn wages in the U.S. in the tax year, then you will not be receiving a W-2. If you did earn wages and you have not received one, contact the employer. It is possible that they do not have the correct mailing address for you. If your employer is Cornell, contact the Cornell Payroll Office at (607) 255-5194 or uco-tax-mailbox@cornell.edu.

  • What is a 1042-S form?

    A 1042S reports scholarships, fellowships, grants, awards and any other payment made to you for which you did not work (i.e. NOT wages). It also reports earned income (wages) which are exempted from tax because of a tax treaty between your country of citizenship and the US. If you received these types of income, you are supposed to receive this form from the payers by March 15th every year. Click here for the Cornell payroll office's information on 1042-S forms. If you are not sure if you will be receiving a 1042-s form, you can contact the Payroll Office and ask them at (607) 255-9465 or uco-tax-mailbox@cornell.edu.

  • What do I do if I didn't get a 1042-S form?

    If you did not receive the types of income listed above in the tax year, then you will not be receiving a 1042-s. If you are not sure if you should be receiving a 1042-s form, you can contact the payroll office and ask them at (607) 255-9465. If you think you should have received one, contact the employer. It is possible that they do not have the correct mailing address for you. If your employer is Cornell, contact the Cornell payroll office at (607) 255-9465 or uco-tax@cornell.edu (for 1042-S questions). If you think you should have received one only for the tax treaty benefits, you can still claim the benefit of the tax treaty without having the 1042-S form. The software will account for the tax treaty automatically when you enter your citizenship.

  • What is a 1098-T form?

    Internationals filing taxes as Non-Residents should IGNORE the 1098-T form. The 1098-T form is a tax document that reports to the student (and the IRS) tuition charges and financial aid for a calendar year. 

    The 1098-T form assists students in evaluating whether s/he is eligible for one of the following educational credits, the Hope Credit or Life Time Learning Credit. Unfortunately, any international who is filing tax returns as a Non-Resident for Tax purposes, is NOT eligible for any of these educational credits and you should ignore the 1098-T form. For more information read here.

  • What is a 1035-B form?

    The 1035-B form that you receive from Cornell is simply confirming that you had health insurance in 2015. You do not have to file it with your tax return. There is a question in the tax software that asks if you had health insurance in 2015, and you simply reply "yes." You can keep the 1035-B for your records but you do not have to do anything with it. If you received no other US based income in 2015, you do not have to file tax returns just because you received a 1035-B.

  • I don't have a US social security number, don't I need one to file tax forms?

    If you do not have a social security number or the alternative tax number (called an ITIN) you will still be able to use the software. If you did receive payments that you did not have to work for (such as fellowship), then the software will automatically fill out an additional form for you (called the "W-7") which will apply for a taxpayer identification number for you. The software will give you directions on where to mail the form. 

  • I thought I did not have to pay social security and medicare but my employer has taken out social security and medicare from my paycheck. What should I do?

    For the first 5 years of being here in the US in F1 status, you do not have to pay social security and medicare. Read here to figure out what to do if your employer did withhold social security and medicare (also known as FICA and FED).

  • I have heard that my country has a tax treaty with the US, how do I get the benefit of that treaty?

    Wages you earn in the US that are exempt from tax due to a tax treaty should be reported to you on a 1042-S form. The software will then prompt you by asking questions about the amounts reported on that form. If you did not get the 1042-S form, you can still claim the benefit of the tax treaty. The software will figure out how the tax treaty applies to your wages automatically when you enter your citizenship

  • Is there anything I need to know about identity theft and fraud?

    Here are some very useful links with what you need to know about identity theft:
    — Department of Justice Fraud Section
    — Federal Trade Commission identity theft page
    — SSA's "Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number" publication
    — Better Business Bureau
    — Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
    — Identity Theft Resource Center (has known scams & consumer alerts)

Questions About Using the Software

  • Can I still use the software if I have graduated?

    You will need your Cornell NetID and password to access the software. If you have left Cornell you will be able to access the software as long as you remember your NetID and password, even if you are blocked out of some of the other resources at Cornell. If you do not remember your NetID and password, you can contact the ISSO, and we will give you a way to access the tax software.

  • What do I do with the forms after I use the software?

    When you finish answering all the questions in the software, the software will create forms for you to print out. There will also be a detailed page of instructions of what to do with the forms: where to sign, where to mail, etc.

  • The tax software won't let me claim my dependents, why?

    Only internationals from Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea and students from India may claim dependents). If you are from one of theses countries, the software will help you claim these dependents.

  • The software asks me to list the administrative head of my program, whose contact information should I include?

    We would suggest you use the name of the Dean of your college and their business address.

  • The tax software filled out a W-7 for me to get an "ITIN" or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number since I do not have a social security number. It says that I need a letter from the "Designated School Official" - how do I get that letter?

    The ISSO will provide that letter for you. Come by the ISSO and sign in to speak to the advisor on duty. Bring copies of your passport id page, I-94 admission record and I-20.

  • TURBO-TAX WARNING: I just realized that I completed my taxes incorrectly because I used turbotax 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 because it does not complete the NON-resident forms for you.

    — If you realize now that you filed the taxes incorrectly, follow these steps:
    — If you filed resident forms and you should have filed NON-resident forms, log in to our 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 Glacier Tax Preparation website.