Tax filing obligations in the United States may seem complicated, depending on what students and scholars have experienced previously regarding tax forms. The Office of International Education (OIE) provides assistance regarding tax obligations for international students and scholars who are “non-residents for tax purposes” as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Most of our international students and scholars are “non-residents for tax purposes” and can take advantage of these services. OIE services are offered from mid-February through April each year in anticipation of the April 15 tax filing deadline. Detailed information will be mailed by OIE and is posted on the News section of the OIE website.
Even if an international student or scholar has no US income, each person (and his/her dependents) must complete at least one tax form for each calendar year in the US, even though no tax is owed to the US. The tax filing process will be relatively simple for students and scholars with no US source income.
Meeting tax obligations is more complex for those with US source income such as a stipend or salary for full-time, part-time or temporary work (such as an internship). Broadly speaking, taxes on income earned at Carnegie Mellon will include federal taxes (from 0% to 30% depending on earned income amount, treaties, etc.), PA state tax (slightly over 3%) and local tax (from 1% to 3% depending on several factors). These taxes are withheld from paychecks, reducing the actual “take home pay.” Each year tax forms must be filed to reconcile what has been withheld by the employer with what is owed. International students and scholars will spend several hours each year completing the necessary tax forms for local, state and federal tax obligations, even with OIE assistance.
Tax obligations for students and scholars with any US-based financial support may be reduced or modified by tax treaty agreements between nations. For additional information on tax treaties, read the IRS Publication 901 (.pdf). When using this guide, be sure to look in the correct section; either “Professors, Teachers and Researchers” or “Students and Apprentices,” as is relevant to your situation.
In addition to the seasonal services mentioned above, OIE staff can provide general guidance and reference information regarding taxation in the US. However, OIE staff can not provide individual tax advice or guidance. Tax agencies, such as the IRS, or certified tax advisers and accountants may be consulted for further information.
Last Updated On: February 20, 2013