*Content taken from Mass General Brigham Office for International Professionals & Students
You must file tax forms if you were physically present in the U.S. in any immigration status (except B-1 Visa or Visa Waiver) for any part of the year.
Filing tax forms does not mean that you will pay taxes, but that you are complying with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) laws to report whether you had any U.S. income.
Are you a “non-resident” or "resident alien” for tax purposes?
Tax residence (sometimes called fiscal residency, residence for tax purposes) is an important concept for all tax payers living and working abroad. Your tax residency determines how you are taxed and which tax forms you need to submit.
- There is at least one tax form (IRS Form 8843) you and any of your dependent family members must file if you held any U.S. immigration status (except B-1 or Visa Waiver) during the previous year.
- The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies visa holders as either "nonresident" or “resident” alien.
- The Sprintax software will help you determine your tax residency status. If Sprintax determines you are a nonresident for tax purposes, you will be able to proceed and complete your tax forms using Sprintax.
- If you are a resident for tax purposes, you cannot use Sprintax to file your tax forms, but you may use other tax services such as TurboTax or H&R Block to complete your tax forms. Fees may apply to file federal and state tax forms.
Non-resident alien: Nonresidents usually do not pay taxes unless they receive income from a U.S. source, however they must still file tax forms. You are a nonresident if you do not have a green card or you do not pass the substantial presence test. To further determine your status, please click here, which details how the IRS determines a J scholar’s status as a resident or nonresident alien.
Resident Alien: A resident is generally taxed like a U.S. citizen. Residents must report all the income they receive, whether it is from inside or outside the United States. A resident alien’s worldwide income is subject to the same tax rates that apply to U.S. citizens.
Social Security Number and ITIN
- If you earned money from a U.S. source, you must have either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in order to complete your tax forms.
- The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who do not have, or are not eligible for an SSN. To apply for an ITIN, download Form W-7 and follow the instructions.
- If you did NOT earn U.S. income, you do not need to apply for an SSN or ITIN to file tax forms.
- You will complete payroll forms at your U.S. hospital orientation.
- You are subject to U.S. Federal, State, Social Security, and Medicare taxes while in the U.S.
- The Mass General Brigham Payroll Office will assist you with any questions about taxes withheld from your paycheck. You may also reference IRS Publication 515 (Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens) for details.
- There are many tax treaties between the United States and other countries.
- Tax Treaties may exempt some individuals from paying U.S. Federal and/or Massachusetts taxes. Each country has different Tax Treaty rules.
- Contact the Mass General Brigham Payroll Office with Tax Treaty questions; you may also reference IRS Publication 901 (Tax Treaties).
- IRS 519 (U.2. Guide for Aliens)
- IRS 515 (Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens)
- Substantial Presence Test for resident aliens.
- Helpful Tax References for foreign students and scholars.
- Information for Foreign Students and Scholars
- Tax Treaties
- Tax Withholding Estimator
- Massachusetts Department of Revenue (state taxes)
- Legal and Residency Status in Massachusetts
- Who Must File a Massachusetts State Personal Income Tax Return
Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
It is free to contact the IRS but be very specific in explaining that you are a foreign national who is in the U.S. on a visa.
** The Postdoctoral Division is unable to assist with any tax information. If you have any questions, please contact the Ask myHR Hotline at 1 (833) 275-6947, or the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-1040.