FAQs

MIT

When is the deadline to file a calendar year 2020 tax return?

The federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year has been extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.

You do not need to file additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this federal tax filing extension.
 
The deadline for the Massachusetts individual income tax return filing has also been extended to May 17, 2021. Please consult state tax agency websites for information on filing deadlines in states other than Massachusetts.

I was out of the U.S. for part of 2020. What taxes were withheld (or not withheld) from my paycheck? What tax filing requirements do I need to be aware of for the upcoming 2020 tax filing deadline?

If you had an RA/TA appointment in Brazil, China, India, Singapore, South Korea, or Taiwan, you did not have any U.S. taxes withheld or reported for the period during you were outside of the U.S. in calendar year 2020. The income from these appointments is considered foreign-sourced for tax purposes.

For graduate students with RA/TA appointments in other countries, in terms of tax withholding, MIT handled your payments as though you were in the U.S.  

For undergraduates participating in a for-credit only UROP, there were no taxes withheld or reported.

The federal tax filing requirements remain the same as in prior years:

  • Nonresidents for tax purposes:
  • F, J, M, or Q visa holders:
    • Form 8843 to claim nonresident tax status for you and your family members (if any)
    • Income tax return Form 1040NR for any U.S. sourced income received during the calendar year
  • All other non-immigrant visa holders:   
    • Income tax return Form 1040NR for any U.S. sourced income received during the calendar year
  • U.S. citizens and residents
  • Form 1040 – report worldwide income (U.S. and foreign-sourced)

 

Please note that you may also be required to file state tax returns for any state in which you lived or worked during calendar year 2020.

See more detailed information on the following MIT websites:

International Students: https://iso.mit.edu/maintaining-status/taxes/

International Scholars: http://web.mit.edu/scholars/intlscholars/taxes/index.html

How will the taxes withheld from my paycheck vary depending on if I was paid by MIT, or a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) during calendar year 2020?

The taxes withheld from your paycheck depend on several factors. If your appointment was approved and you were paid by MIT, your paycheck was subject to U.S. tax withholding. If you were paid via a PEO during calendar year 2020, your paycheck was subject to the tax withholding laws of the country you were residing/working in during 2020.

Am I eligible to claim a tax treaty benefit?

Your eligibility for tax treaty benefits will depend on the local country laws of the country you were residing/working in during 2020. The tax treaty between the U.S. and the country do not apply in this situation.

For graduate students with appointments in countries other than Brazil, China, India, Singapore, South Korea, or Taiwan, MIT handled your tax withholding as though you were in the U.S. for tax and treaty purposes. In this case, you may be eligible to claim a tax treaty benefit.

Do I owe U.S. taxes if I had an MIT appointment, but never entered the U.S. during 2020?

No. MIT only withheld taxes from your paycheck if you were a U.S. tax resident during calendar year 2020.

If I worked outside of the U.S. for most of 2020, do I still need to file a Massachusetts (MA) state tax return?

Yes. If you received compensation as an employee for services performed in Massachusetts prior to the MA COVID-19 state of emergency, and were required to relocate outside of MA, while continuing to perform these services, the compensation you received will continue to be treated as MA-sourced income.  You are therefore required to file a MA state tax return.

I am a recent graduate of MIT. I am employed by a company in the U.S. that is located in state other than Massachusetts. I work for this firm remotely from a country outside of the U.S. Do I need to file state tax returns in MA and the state where my employer is located?

Income tax filing requirements vary from state to state. Refer to the state residency definitions and income sourcing rules in both MA and your employer’s state. Some states may have temporary rules in place due to COVID-19.

How do I file a tax return if I don’t have a Social Security Number?

The IRS requires you to have either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to file tax forms and claim treaty benefits.

If you are eligible for an SSN and do not have one, you should review the following web pages:

MIT international students

https://iso.mit.edu/employment/social-security-number-ssn/

My appointment was recently converted from an assistantship to an MIT fellowship. I was taxed on my income, but I believe I should not have been taxed. How do I correct this? How does that change my tax withholding?

For an assistantship, MIT will withhold tax based on IRS withholding tables for both U.S. tax residents and nonresident aliens.

For a fellowship, MIT will not withhold on U.S. tax residents and will withhold 14% on nonresident aliens. Regardless of whether MIT has withheld tax, fellowships with a service component are still subject to U.S. taxation.

If you have a question about the MIT withholding tax rate on a payment you received, you can contact VPF HR/Payroll at payroll@mit.edu.

I was in my home country for most of 2020, do I have to pay taxes there?

The tax filing requirements in your home country will depend on that country’s tax laws. Refer to your government’s tax website to determine your residency status in that country as well as the income sourcing rules and tax reporting requirements.

Since I already had taxes withheld from my paycheck, do I need to file a tax return?

Yes. Nonresidents are required to file Form 1040-NR to report income received during the calendar year. This is true even if your income was subject to withholding throughout the year. Filing your federal return will determine whether you overpaid taxes and are due a refund from the IRS, or if you underpaid and owe tax to the IRS. You may also have a state filing requirement if you lived or worked in a particular state during the calendar year.

If you did not receive U.S.-sourced income, Form 8843 is still required if you were present in the U.S. for at least one day during the calendar year and are claiming a student or scholar exemption from the substantial presence test to be treated as a nonresident alien.

If I did not receive any U.S.-sourced income in 2020, am I only required to file Form 8843? What about Form W-7 for the ITIN application?

If you did not receive any U.S.-sourced income during calendar year 2020, you are only required to file Form 8843 (Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition) with the IRS. Form 8843 is an informational return (no tax calculated) that is used to claim your nonresident tax status.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) are issued to foreign nationals and other individuals who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for a Social Security Number. You may apply for an ITIN using the latest revision of Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Attach Form W-7 and supporting documentation to your federal income tax return upon filing. Note that an ITIN is not required to file Form 8843.

See Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for more information.

If my spouse is on a J2 visa and has income, should we file taxes jointly or separately?

If you are a nonresident, you and your spouse would file separate returns using the single filing status.

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, you may choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident and file a joint tax return. If you choose to do so, your nonresident spouse will need an SSN or an ITIN and you will both be subject to tax on income from all sources during the year.

What happens if I fail to file my taxes or realize I made a mistake on a return already filed?

Failure to file a tax return may result in penalties, interest, and/or an audit by the IRS. There may also be consequences with regard to your immigration status if you fail to file your returns when you were required to file. You should consider filing a return even if the deadline has passed, especially if you believe you owe taxes to the IRS for a previous calendar year.

If you are aware of an error on a tax return already filed, you can file an amended return.  See instructions here.

https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1040x

Can I file my tax return electronically (e-file)?

You may e-file Form 1040NR however, certain circumstances may require you to send a paper file including:

  • Dual-status returns
  • Tax treaty claims/amounts reported on Form 1042-S

Note that some U.S. states may only provide a paper filing option.

If I earned money from my salary or other income source abroad is it taxable in the U.S.?

Nonresident aliens are not required to report salaries or other income earned abroad unless the income is effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States.

Resident aliens must report foreign-sourced income on their individual income tax return, which will then be taxable at the applicable rates.

Resident aliens may be eligible to take a foreign tax credit in the U.S. for certain foreign taxes paid to a foreign country using Form 1116:  https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1116

What types of income are taxable in the U.S.?

Nonresident aliens are only subject to U.S. taxation on income from U.S. sources. Foreign-sourced income received by nonresident aliens is not subject to U.S. taxation. This is unlike resident aliens who are taxed on worldwide income (income from both U.S. and foreign sources). See Common Income Types page for more information.

How do I determine what portion of my scholarship/fellowship is taxable?

The portion of a scholarship/fellowship used for qualified tuition and related expenses is generally not taxable. Use Worksheet 1-1 from IRS Publication 970 or the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant to determine the amount of a scholarship or fellowship grant that can be excluded from gross income.

If I receive money as part of a prize or award, do I need to report it and pay tax on it?

Prizes and awards are amounts paid in recognition of an outstanding achievement or winnings in a competition, raffle, or other contest. Generally, prizes and awards must be included in gross income and taxable at the applicable rates, regardless of your tax residency status. Certain exceptions may apply.

Please see IRS Publication 525 for more information.

Personal Property: Are any of the following considered taxable income?

Sold real estate property I owned abroad – Nonresident aliens do not need to include income derived from foreign sources such as from the sale of  property, unless the income is effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States.

Resident aliens must include all worldwide income, including income from foreign sources.

Sold real estate property I owned in the U.S. – Income from the sale of property located in the U.S. is considered taxable income to nonresident aliens and resident aliens, but certain exclusions may apply for a primary residence.

Sold stocks or other investments in the U.S. – Capital gains from the sale of stock or other investments in the U.S. are considered taxable income to nonresident aliens and resident aliens.

What is a dual-status alien?

A dual-status alien is an individual who is classified as both a U.S. resident alien and a nonresident alien in the same tax year. Dual-status does not refer to your citizenship, only to your resident status for tax purposes in the United States.

Typically, you will be classified as a dual-status alien during the tax year under the following circumstances:

  • You arrived in the U.S. during the tax year and received permanent residency status (a green card) through your employment status or spouse.
  • You entered the U.S. and passed the substantial presence test during the year. (See below for more information about the substantial presence test.)
  • You held a J, F, M, or Q visa the first part of the year and received permanent residency status during the year.
  • You left the United States permanently during a year in which you qualified as a tax resident.

See IRS Publication 519 for more information on dual-status aliens.

As a dual-status alien, do I have to file two different federal tax forms?

As a dual-status alien, the income tax return you file will depend on whether you are a resident alien or a nonresident alien at the end of the tax year. Only one form will be required, along with the applicable statements, for each residency scenario.

See the IRS website and IRS Publication 519 for more information on dual-status aliens.

What if I don’t want to be a resident for tax purposes because I don’t want Social Security and Medicare withheld from my pay?

Residency for tax purposes is determined by the substantial presence test, based on an individual’s physical presence in the United States over a three-year period. You may not elect to be a nonresident in order to avoid Social Security and Medicare withholding. Social Security and Medicare are payroll taxes, not income taxes.

Why didn't I receive a Form 1042-S for tax treaty benefits claimed last year, even though my fellowship/stipend/scholarship was not taxed?

Form 1042-S is provided only to nonresidents for tax purposes, who claimed a tax treaty or had a fellowship payment without a tax treaty. If you didn’t have either one, you received a W-2. If you were a nonresident alien last year, and either claimed a treaty or received fellowship payments without a treaty and didn’t receive a Form 1042-S, contact payroll@mit.edu.

If you were a resident alien for tax purposes and had fellowship payments, you will not receive a Form 1042-S. It is your responsibility to report the income on your personal tax return and to have made estimated tax payments during the year for whatever portion of your income that was used for non-qualified expenses, and therefore subject to taxation.

Should I expect to receive tax reporting documents from MIT?

If you received certain types of U.S-sourced income throughout the calendar year, you can expect to receive certain tax forms that are used to report this income.

Refer to the links below for more information on tax reporting documents from MIT:

https://vpf.mit.edu/by-topic/general-tax-information/common-income-types

https://vpf.mit.edu/by-topic/tax-forms/types-of-tax-forms-you-may-receive-from-mit

I am missing tax forms (W-2, 1042-S, or other tax documents) for 2020 from MIT. Who can I contact about my forms?

Contact payroll@mit.edu for questions concerning missing tax forms.

If you need the1042-S form for royalty payments, prize or award payments, or for services performed in the U.S., contact b2p@mit.edu.

What is the Form 1098-T used for?

For information about the Form 1098-T, refer to the FAQ on this form: https://vpf.mit.edu/irs-form-1098-t-tuition-statement-faq

My country has a tax treaty with the U.S., so why was my pay taxed?

VPF HR/Payroll provides access to the Glacier Tax Compliance System (GTCS) to help foreign national students and scholars determine their U.S. tax residency status. GTCS can also determine if you are exempt from paying U.S. tax due to your home country’s tax treaty with the U.S.

GTCS will determine your U.S. tax residency status and your eligibility for a tax treaty based on the information you enter about your presence in the U.S. GTCS will generate tax forms (e.g. W-4, 8233, W-8-BEN) for you to submit to VPF HR/Payroll.

VPF HR/Payroll will use these forms to determine how much money to deduct from your pay for taxes and process your tax treaty coverage, if applicable. Tax may be withheld due to one or more of the following situations:

  • Your GTCS paperwork is incorrect and/or incomplete
  • Your GTCS paperwork has not yet been processed
  • You have become a resident alien for tax purposes and are now subject to FICA tax
  • Your Form 8233 has expired; this form must be submitted annually to receive tax treaty benefits

If you believe that your pay is being taxed incorrectly, contact payroll@mit.edu

As a resident alien, how can I report 1042-S income and/or claim tax treaty benefits on my tax return?

Please refer to the Workshop Presentation slides of the U.S. Citizen and Resident Students and Scholars (pages 14-16) for information on how to report 1042-S income and/or claim tax treaty benefits on your return.

https://vpf.mit.edu/by-topic/tax-filing/how-to-get-tax-help

Do nonresidents need to declare overseas bank accounts by filing the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR), FinCEN 114?

No. Nonresidents are not required to file an FBAR.

U.S. citizens and residents who have a financial interest in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts must file an FBAR if the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

https://www.fincen.gov/report-foreign-bank-and-financial-accounts

Do I have to report money I transfer from my home country to the U.S.?

No, bank transfers from a personal foreign bank account to a personal U.S. bank account are not reportable as income.

I received a Form 1099-INT from my U.S. bank. Is the interest earned in a bank account taxable?

Yes. Interest income from a U.S. bank reported on Form 1099-INT is considered taxable to the recipient. You should include the amount reported on Form 1099-INT on your federal income tax return.

I lived and earned income in more than one U.S. state during the tax year. Do I have to file tax forms in each state?

If you earned income in multiple states in a given tax year, you may need to file a return in each state that you resided in during the tax year as a part-year resident, based on that state’s residency and income sourcing rules.

In Massachusetts, part-year residents are generally taxed on all of their income while residents of Massachusetts, whether received from sources inside or outside of Massachusetts. A Massachusetts full-year and/or part-year resident is entitled to claim a credit for incomes taxes paid to other states on income reported and taxed in Massachusetts. A part-year resident is only allowed credit for taxes paid on income earned and/or received during the Massachusetts residency period.

Do I have to file a Massachusetts state tax return?

If you received Massachusetts gross income of more than $8,000 during the calendar year, you must file a Massachusetts state tax return. The form you file will depend on your Massachusetts residency status. Refer to the links below for more information:

https://www.mass.gov/topics/individuals

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-legal-and-residency-status-in-massachusetts

As a nonresident alien for federal tax purposes, am I a nonresident for Massachusetts tax purposes as well?

Massachusetts has state residency rules that may differ from your federal status. If you have a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts and you have lived in Massachusetts for 183 days or more during the calendar year, you may be required to file as a resident in Massachusetts.

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-legal-and-residency-status-in-massachusetts

Does my student housing count as a permanent place of abode in Massachusetts?

Whether a particular residence constitutes a "permanent place of abode" is a question of facts and circumstances of each individual’s situation. A permanent place of abode generally will not include a dormitory or campus residence hall, however, it may include an off-campus apartment without university affiliation.

Refer to the link below for more information:

https://www.mass.gov/technical-information-release/tir-95-7-change-in-the-definition-of-resident-for-massachusetts

Do my tax treaty benefits apply to my state taxes?

Whether or not a state chooses to honor federal income tax treaty agreements will vary on a state-by-state basis. In Massachusetts, to the extent that income is excluded federally per a tax treaty, that income will also be exempt from state income tax. The income must still be reported on the return as wages and then claimed as a deduction.

Do I have to report health insurance coverage to Massachusetts?

Yes. Massachusetts requires adult residents to maintain minimum creditable health insurance coverage throughout the calendar year in order to avoid a tax penalty.

Your health insurance provider will send you Form 1099-HC, as proof of health insurance coverage for the calendar year. If you are covered by the MIT health plan, you will receive Form 1099-HC from Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA.

You will use Form 1099-HC to complete Schedule HC on your Massachusetts state tax return. Remember to keep a copy of your Form 1099-HC for records.

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.