IMPORTANT NOTE: The staff of the OIA is not allowed to advise regarding tax issues or help individuals prepare their individual tax returns because we do not have the required expertise or knowledge. However, we do understand that tax issues can be confusing and frustrating. For this reason The OIA has purchased WINDSTAR, non-resident alien tax preparation software that is intended to assist you in completing your Federal tax and Massachusetts tax forms. Complete details regarding the WINDSTAR program are included below.
Who must file a tax return?
If you were present in the U.S for any part of the year in F-1 or J-1 status, but had NO US source income you only need to file Form 8843 [PDF] . The deadline for this form is June 15th.
If you had U.S. source income (wages or scholarship covering anything other than tuition) in 2012 you should have received a form such as a W-2 or a 1042S. You MUST file a U.S. tax return before April 15th or file for an extension before that date.
Step one is to determine if you are a Resident Alien for tax purposes or a Nonresident Alien for tax purposes. If you use WINDSTAR it will automatically make that determination for you. If you choose not to use WINDSTAR, Publication 519 has the necessary information and can be found at www.irs.gov.
Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes file Form 8843 and the NR (non-resident) forms. Resident Aliens for tax purposes file the regular forms (1040 or 1040EZ). Please note that being a Resident Alien for tax purposes has NO bearing on your immigration status. It does not get you a "green card".
Please note that the above is a very simplified summary of the "substantial presence test". Immigration status and nationality can, in certain situations, alter the outcome of the test. Again using WINDSTAR will help you determine your status for tax purposes. IRS Publication 519 U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens describes the "substantial presence test" in detail.
To help you complete your 2012 Tax returns, the Office of Intercultural Affairs (OIA) has purchased the tax preparation software, WINDSTAR. To access this web-based program, you must purchase a password from the OIA for the nominal fee of $10.00 (paid in cash or check made out to Clark University). To purchase the password you must come to the OIA from 9-4:30, Monday through Friday. Please be prepared to pay at the time you purchase the password. All instructions on how to use this program will be given to you at the time you purchase the password. You are not required to purchase a WINDSTAR access code; you may choose to download tax forms yourself or hire a tax preparer.
Social Security Number/Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
EVERYONE filing a tax return must have either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you are not eligible for or have a SSN, you must apply for and use an ITIN. If you are to claim family members as dependents on your tax forms, each family member (spouse and children, even babies!) must have an ITIN. To apply for the ITIN, you may obtain the application form (Form W-7) and instructions. W-7 forms are available at www.irs.gov . If you use WINDSTAR it will print out the W-7 forms for you.
If you lived in another state in the U.S. during the year and earned income in that state, you may also have to file a tax return for that state as well. To obtain tax forms for other states, you will need to contact the Department of Revenue (or Department of Taxation) in each state you had previously lived.
Massachusetts State Tax
WINDSTAR will also help you complete Massachusetts State Tax returns. If you are required to file state taxes you must do so as well. You can get more information about filing Massachusetts state taxes at www.dor.state.ma.us. You do not need to file Massachusetts state tax returns unless your 2012 gross income was $8,000 or more. If you lived in another state in the U.S. during 2012 and earned income in that state, you may also have to file a tax return for that state as well. To obtain tax forms for other states, you will need to contact the Department of Revenue (or Department of Taxation) in each state you had previously lived.
Tax Specialists and Preparers
You may wish to hire a tax professional to complete your tax returns. Below is a list of several tax preparers. Be sure to find out how much they will charge you before you ask them to take care of taxes.
Freshman & Ferraro, P.C., Certified Public Accountants
400 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Paula Singer, Tax Attorney, Vacovec, Mayotte, & Singer
255 Washington St., Suite 340, Newton, MA 02458-1634
Tel: 617-964-0500 or 1-800-TAX-GROUP
Meilman and Costa, PC
70 Wells Avenue, Suite 200, Newton, MA 02459