How to Get Tax Help

MIT campus

Individual Tax Workshops

The Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) sponsors Individual Tax Workshops for MIT students and scholars typically in February and March. The purpose of these workshops is to provide general guidance to students and scholars on the process for filing U.S. and MA tax returns. The workshops are not intended to provide individual tax advice.

The workshops are held on campus and are co-sponsored by the Office of Graduate Education (OGE), the International Students Office (ISO), the International Scholars Office (ISchO), and Student Financial Services (SFS), in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

March 2020 Tax Workshops for Students and Scholars for Tax Year 2019

Tax Workshops for resident and international MIT students and resident scholars in advance of the 2019 tax filing deadline (Wednesday, April 15, 2020) are scheduled as follows:

 

Nonresident international students
5:00-6:30 pm
U.S. citizen and resident students and scholars
7:00-8:30 pm

 

The March 30 workshop is canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis. The presentation slides from the March 4 session are posted below.

Workshop Presentations

 

Nonresident international students

U.S. citizen and resident students and scholars

 

Tax Preparation Assistance

The IRS and state websites contain information and guidance for complying with your tax filing obligations, however you may have individual circumstances that require additional tax guidance or advice. MIT nonresident alien students and scholars have access to tax preparation software to help file returns and answer questions. Legal restrictions prevent MIT staff members from advising you about tax liabilities or helping you to prepare your tax return. If your tax situation is complex, you may want to seek the services of a professional tax preparer to file your tax returns. See Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer below if you are considering working with a professional tax preparer.

 

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

Use these tips to evaluate whether the preparer will be able to assist you. Use this guide to help determine if you are comfortable hiring a preparer and understand issues related to experience and cost.

Check the preparer’s qualifications

Typically, the more qualified a preparer is, the higher the fee. The following are different types of tax preparers in order of expense and likely experience:

  • Tax Attorney – Has the most specialized knowledge for complex situations and is likely the most expensive
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Enrolled agents
  • Tax preparation companies – experience varies greatly by company and by each preparer of the company, ask a lot of questions before hiring a tax company
  • Check the preparer’s history for any disciplinary action or to verify license status (see Additional Tax Preparation Resources below)
  • Ask about service fees
  • Know the maximum fee that could be charged
  • Ensure any refund is paid directly to you and not the preparer

 

Keep in Mind:

  • Avoid preparers that promise a higher refund than other preparers or charge a fee based on percentage of refund
  • Make sure the preparer is available and you know how to contact them after the filing season is over
  • The preparer should be requesting records and receipts to prepare your return, including your W-2 or 1042-S (if applicable)
  • Never sign a blank return
  • Review your return before signing it as you are responsible for all information reported on the return
  • Ensure the preparer signs and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
  • Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS

 

Tips Specific to Nonresident or Dual-Status Tax Filers

  • Ask how many 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ forms the preparer files each year
  • If you are an F, J, M or Q visa holder, ask the preparer if they are familiar with the rules that apply to your visa status, and whether they have experience filing returns with your visa status
  • If you are a dual-status resident, ask how many dual-status returns the preparer has filed

Beware of tax preparers who offer to help you prepare your immigration forms. The only individuals authorized to give advice on immigration law are attorneys and representatives accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

 

Local Tax Preparers

The following is a list of local tax advisors who can assist you for a fee.

DISCLAIMER: These tax preparers specialize in tax issues for foreign nationals. MIT does not endorse any specific tax specialist. There are many others in the Boston area.

If you are a nonresident for tax purposes and you consult with a tax specialist, make sure he/she knows that you need to file Nonresident tax forms. Since nonresident tax returns are different from resident tax returns, it is important that you talk to a tax professional who has experience in filing nonresident tax returns.

 

Additional Tax Preparation Resources

Please be aware that some tax preparation resources and software are only available to U.S. citizens and residents.

The content in this website is provided for informational purposes only. MIT does not offer legal, accounting, or tax advice and services. This information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a professional accounting, tax, or legal advisor. MIT recommends that students consult a tax advisor for individual tax advice.