Federal and State Taxes
All persons present in the U.S. under an F, J, M, or Q, (-1 or -2) immigration status MUST file tax documents with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Department of the Treasury at least once each year.
For those who earned money from U.S. sources, you may have to file both commonwealth (state) and federal taxes. For those who did not earn money, there is still a required form that must be completed.
In both cases, the GEO Center provides a few ways to support international students and exchange visitors through the tax and filing process.
- Self-Service Tax Resources, including Thomson Reuters tax preparation software
- Do-It-Yourself Tax Workshops – held in spring semester each year to assist you through the self-service tax resources
- Frequently Asked Questions, including references to other tax services for complex issues (see below)
Tax Preparation Overview
Frequently Asked Questions
Who has to file documents?
- All persons with an F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2, Q-1, or Q-2 immigration status in the U.S. have to file tax paperwork.
- All international students and exchange visitors must file documents to the United States government every year, even if you did not earn or receive money.
When do I have to file documents?
- Tax paperwork must be completed and filed by April 15th of the year following any period during which you resided in the U.S.
- For example: If you were in the U.S. at any point between January to December of a given year, you must file by April 15 of the following year.
I would like help filing my federal and Massachusetts state (Commonwealth) tax documents. How do I begin the process of filing my paperwork?
- The COF has jointly purchased tax preparation software for our international student and exchange visitor population to assist with both federal and Massachusetts state tax forms. (Don’t worry – you do not need to understand the U.S. tax system!). Click on the “Tax Preparation Resources” link at the top of this page for information about how to access the resource.
- The GEO Center hosts “Do it Yourself Taxes” sessions to help you file your tax documents! Check the events calendar for upcoming sessions (usually held in February and April), instructions on what to bring and directions to the event.
I have questions that are not answered here/I need tax advice. How can I get more help or speak with someone in person?
- The Internal Revenue Service offers a Taxpayer Assistance Center right here in Boston. For more information about how to utilize their services, visit: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-My-Local-Office-in-Massachusetts.
- Check out the US Tax Guide for Aliens: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf
- Bunker Hill Community College offers a free tax advising program (VITA) that has been helpful to international students and Exchange Visitors in the past. For more information and to book an appointment, please visit: http://www.bhcc.mass.edu/vita/
- For additional VITA sites, visit here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers
I neglected to file my tax documents in past years and would like to file documents for more than one year. What should I do?
- Contact the Taxpayer Assistance Center mentioned in the question above.
- You can use our tax preparation software to file federal taxes for a limited number of prior years. Click the ‘Tax Resources’ link above to access this software.
I intend to immigrate to the U.S. What should I do?
- If you intend to adjust your immigration status to permanent resident (i.e. you are applying for a “green card” or “permanent resident” card), you should seek the advice of an immigration attorney before filing tax documents.
Am I a resident or nonresident for tax purposes?
- Our tax preparation software will help you determine this! Click the link above to enter Tax Resources.
- You may also check the IRS resources at: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Determining-Alien-Tax-Status