J1 visa holders – it’s tax time. If you are on a J1 visa in the US you need to know a few things about US taxes. Many people are unaware that there are tax obligations associated with the J1 visa. Find out more about the tax process and what you need to file so you don’t get caught out.
Do I Need to File for Taxes as a J1 Visa Holder?
The short answer is yes. As a J1 visa holder you are classed as a non-resident alien. This is for tax purposes, and doesn’t relate in this case to your immigration status. Non-resident aliens in the US must pay the right federal, state, and local taxes.
In order to pay tax you need to file an income tax report once a year, when it is due, with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This is the agency in the US that collects and monitors tax. If you need more information relating to the tax you pay as a non-resident alien, or whether you are entitled to any exemptions, the IRS should be your first visit. There is a comprehensive IRS website that aims to answer any questions you have.
Forms You Need as a J1 Visa Holder
There are many IRS forms for many different purposes. The problem is knowing which forms to use at which time. If you have a doubt, contact the IRS but the forms that you will need to complete will usually be the 1040NR or the 1040NR-EZ (US Non-Resident Alien Income Tax Return). The EZ form is the short version of the longer form, and you should find out which version you need to fill out.
What About Other Forms?
In order to file your tax return you will need to see your W-2 form. This is a list of the income you have earned in the US for the current year. The organization organizing your J1 visa should automatically provide you with this form. If you don’t receive it, ask for it. In other cases you will need the form 1042-S, too.
If you are from a country that participates in a Tax Treaty with the United States you may need to include this information on the form when you file your taxes. This is because the tax rate may be different if you are from one of these countries.
In addition, you will need to file a State Income Tax return. The form you need for this will obviously depend on the state you live in.
Do I Need to File Taxes When I Did Not Earn Anything?
In many cases, people in the US as exchange visitors do not participate in paid employment and as such do not earn any income in the US. If this is the case, you still need to file for taxes. It is not permitted to not file, even when you earn nothing. You will need to file Form 8843, which is the Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition.
Filing Taxes for J2 Dependents
The J2 visa holder must also file a return. This is the case even if the J2 visa holder has not earned any income. The same forms apply for the J2 visa holder as apply for J1.
Making Payments to the IRS, and Getting Refunds
You pay the taxes due to the IRS at the time stated. If you miss this deadline, or you have underpaid the total amount of taxes then you will need to pay extra money to the IRS. This can be completed online with a card.
Sometimes you will have paid too much money to the IRS. In this case, you are entitled to a tax refund. When you file your taxes online it is simple to check the status of the tax refund and find out when it is due to be paid, and how much it is.
Problems Filing a Tax Return?
If you are outside of the US or you cannot make the deadline for filing your tax return you can apply for an extension, although you are not automatically granted an extension. You must file a tax return every year you have non-resident status. If the IRS gets your W-2 form but cannot find the tax return to go with it, they will assume you are failing to report taxes. You will be issued with penalties on any unpaid tax.
If you are having any issues with filing your taxes or with understanding which forms you need to fill out, consult a local tax professional who has experience dealing with J1 and J2 visa issues.