Understanding Taxes for Non-Residents

Note: please watch our International Tax Information presentation

Income Taxes - Key Questions

  • Is it time to file my tax return? 

  • How do I know if I'm a nonresident alien for tax purposes? 

  • Will I get money back? 

  • What if I didn't work last year? 

  • Why are taxes so confusing? 

Are you asking these questions? January through mid-April brings the highly anticipated (or perhaps dreaded) "tax season", but you don't have to worry. UT provides a great deal of support to our International Students and Scholars. This Non-Resident Alien (NRA) Tax Information guide provides information about resources available to assist foreign nationals at UT with filing taxes.

Tax Filing Responsibilities

Tax filing responsibilities are unique for each individual. The information in this guide is intended only for international students and scholars with income sources typical of students and scholars at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The information has been carefully prepared and reviewed, and should be adequate to assist most international students and scholars. However, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a qualified tax accountant. If your visa status has changed in the past year, or you believe you have a complicated tax issue, please consult the IRS or a qualified tax accountant. Glacier, is being provided to help you with your tax filing obligations.

Who Needs to Complete a Tax Form?

If you earned income (such as salary or a scholarship) from sources in the U.S. during 2020, then you should complete a tax return.  Even if you didn't earn enough income to be required to file a tax return, you may receive money back, so it is in your best interest to file a tax return.

In addition, anyone in F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status who is a tax nonresident is required to file Form 8843, even if you did not earn any income.  Not sure if you are considered a tax resident or nonresident?  UT employees can login to Glacier from Payroll Office to check their status or you can use GTP. 

Form 8843

All international students and scholars (and any applicable dependents) are required to fill out Form 8843 each year they are in the U.S., regardless of if they had income or not. This form must also be completed for any dependents of international students and scholars. If you and your dependents did not make any income in the tax year, this form is your only filing requirement. Please note that if you did not have any income for the tax year you are filing, you will not be able to use Glacier (discussed below) to complete your Form 8843.

Form 8843 must be mailed in separate envelopes to the following address:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX, 73301-0215

Filing Tax Forms (Tax “Returns”)

The money that you pay in state and federal income taxes can sometimes be refunded to you depending on your situation. International Students are required to file a tax form if they made received income in the current tax year. The deadline to file your taxes each year is April 15th (sometimes this date varies slightly). For example, the 2022 tax period began January 1, 2021 and ended December 31, 2022, but the tax filing deadline is April 18, 2023.

All individuals will need the following documents to complete their tax return: Passport, social security card or ITIN, W-2, 1042-S (if applicable), Travel history (I-94).

Tax Filing Status

Your residency for tax purposes is different than your immigration status. If this is your first visit to the U.S. or you have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years (in F-1 status) or less than 2 years (in J-1 status), you would most likely be a nonresident alien for tax purposes. If you have been in the U.S. longer than 5 years in F-1 status (or longer than 2 years if in J-1 status), you may be a resident for tax purposes. Before completing any tax forms, we highly recommend confirming your residency status by updating your record through Glacier. Do not commit tax fraud by incorrectly filing as a resident through programs like Turbo Tax!

Federal Income Taxes: Nonresident Alien

Individuals classified as Nonresident Alien for tax purposes can use Glacier to confirm their residency information and complete their tax return forms. Glacier provides step-by-step instructions that assist individuals with completing their tax forms. Glacier may be used to access the Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) software. Individuals in non-resident alien status should use GTP to complete their tax forms accurately. Filing incorrectly by withholding information or filing incorrect forms through a website like Turbo Tax could be considered tax fraud and impact your ability to apply for permanent residency or citizenship in the future. Before filing any tax returns, it is recommended to verify your tax residency status by doing so through Glacier.

Glacier and Glacier Tax Prep: What’s the Difference?


Glacier is an online tax compliance software designed to allow institutions to efficiently and effectively collect information, make tax residency and income tax treaty determinations, manage paperwork, maintain data, and file reporting statements with the IRS. This system allows nonresident aliens to provide their immigration and tax data to the University of Tennessee in order to help determine tax residency, withholding rates, and federal income tax treaty eligibility. If you are working for University of Tennessee, please complete your Glacier profile.

Glacier Tax Prep (GTP)

Glacier Tax Prep is an online software that assists tax nonresident aliens in completing tax forms  UT purchases access to GTP for foreign nationals employed at UT. Normally, the UT Payroll Office will notify you that GTP access is available late February - early March.  If you are a tax resident, GTP will not be able to assist with your tax return. 

GTP includes a comprehensive FAQ section on many tax-related questions. Please note that you are individually responsible for verifying that the correct information has been entered into GTP and are responsible for any errors or omissions.

Glacier also offers Live Virtual Q&A Sessions with a Tax professional during tax season. You should be able to see the schedule for these sessions in your Glacier profile, but if not please send an email to an immigration advisor for more information about how to access these sessions.

Federal Income Taxes: Resident Alien

If you are a tax resident, GTP will not be able to assist with your tax return. Instead, you can complete your tax return through an online filing system. The IRS has listed some options for free filing on their website that you can use if your income is under $69,000. If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes we strongly encourage you to use GTP as most other software is not capable of filing nonresident alien taxes correctly.

Tax Resources

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website is a good source of information on your tax questions. The publications listed below are some of the most commonly used resources by foreign nationals.

IRS Website

Determining Alien Tax Status

Publication 519—US Tax Guide for Aliens

Publication 901—US Tax Treaties (be aware there are different sections for scholars and students)

Publication 1915—Understanding your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

H1-B Tax Info at IRS Website

ISSS International Tax Information Session recorded March 2024


Do I really need to file a tax form?

ALL international students and scholars who were present in the U.S. at any point in the calendar year are required to submit a tax document. If you did not receive any income in the U.S., you will only need to file Form 8843. If you did receive income in the tax year, you should file tax forms (such as Form 1040-NR or 1040S-NR) alongside a Form 8843. Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) is provided by UT for those who are non-resident aliens for tax purposes.

Do I need a Social Security Number or ITIN before filing taxes?

Yes, if you receive income in the U.S., you should have already applied for and received a social security number (SSN). If you are not eligible for a SSN but have taxable income such as a scholarship you will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Can ISSS help me or my dependent apply for an ITIN?

ISSS can assist students and scholars with ITIN applications however, we are unable to assist with dependent ITIN applications. In most cases if you are making income in the U.S. you will receive a SSN. Those who need an ITIN are typically student athletes with taxable scholarships and no additional income. The IRS website contains information on the ITIN process as well.

How do I obtain my W-2?

If you are employed by UT, you should be able to access your W-2 on your
MyUTK or directly through the payroll website.

How do I obtain my 1042-S?

Your 1042-S should be available on Glacier and pre-populate when filing your tax forms.

Why did I get a W-2, but not a 1042-S?

If you received any U.S. income, you should receive a W-2. If you did not receive a 1042-S, you may not be eligible to receive one — and that is okay! You may receive a 1042-S if your wages are subject to tax exemption by a tax treaty or if you received a taxable scholarship.

Why do I owe taxes?

If you make any income in the U.S., you are required to pay taxes on that
income. Normally, tax is automatically deducted from your paycheck. In some cases, you may owe taxes at the end of the year because not enough tax was withheld. Your employer will calculate this deduction with Form W-4. Glacier will populate form W-4 correctly, so it is recommended to update your record on Glacier, download the W-4 that it creates, and send it to your employer.

Do I need to file taxes with the state of Tennessee?

The state of Tennessee does not require a state tax return. If you made income in a state other than Tennessee, you should research the filing requirements with that state.

Do I qualify as a resident or non-resident alien for federal tax purposes?

Residency for tax purposes is determined by the Substantial Presence Test. You can review the stipulations of the substantial presence test on the IRS website, but luckily, Glacier does the work for you! Once you fill out your information on Glacier, the website will determine your residency for tax purposes.

How do I use Glacier Tax Prep to complete my tax return?

Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) will assist non-resident aliens to complete their tax return forms. Follow the steps and answer the questions on the website and GTP will prepare the tax forms for you. Each page has a sidebar that defines some terms that may confuse you. GTP has a FAQ page that may answer questions specific to you. You can also send questions to the GTP staff via the “HELP” link.

What online programs can I use as a Resident Alien for Tax Purposes?

The IRS has listed some options available for free if your income is under a certain threshold. You should carefully consider multiple options to file your tax return to make sure the service you are using is trustworthy and has a good reputation.

When are tax forms due?

Tax forms for income received in 2022 are due April 18th, 2023.

I found out I am a non-resident alien for tax purposes but filed taxes with Turbo Tax as a resident alien last year. What do I do?

You may have filed incorrect forms under the incorrect residency status. It is recommended you take appropriate steps to amend your taxes. There is some information on the GTP website on amending your tax return, but you may also want to pursue assistance from a tax professional.

I did not receive any income in the past year. Do I still need to file a tax form?

If you did not make any income, and you were physically present in the United States at any time in 2021, all you will need to do is complete Form 8843. The form is very simple and can be completed without the assistance of GTP

Do my dependents in F-2 or J-2 status need to file form 8843 as well?

Yes, even if they did not earn income. Each dependent should fill out a form 8843(or a parent/guardian can fill out a form for them) and mail them in separate envelopes to this address:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Can my ISSS advisor help me with my taxes?

Unfortunately, ISSS advisors are not trained in tax law and cannot provide assistance in filling out taxes. However, Glacier offers Webinars with their own Tax Professionals during tax season. Please login to Glacier and check the announcements at the bottom of the page. If a webinar is scheduled, information on how to connect to the Zoom meeting will be provided there.

What happens if I complete my forms incorrectly?

Don’t worry! Your only obligation is to file; if you make a mistake, you will be notified. A mistake in your filing will not impact your immigration status in any way. Do your best, keep copies, and submit on time!