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U.S. Tax System

The United States tax system can be complex and confusing, even for American citizens. Individual reporting requirements and tax obligations vary depending on many factors, including:

These can change over time and are often impacted by major life events.

The University of Rochester has several resources for international students and scholars to help in navigating their US taxes. At Rochester, we rely on a tax compliance tool called Sprintax Calculus to make sure foreign nationals are paid and taxed appropriately, according to their tax residency category.


General Information About Taxes

In the United States, all kinds of income are taxable, including:

  • Earned wages
  • Non-service scholarships or awards
  • Interest

Often, each type of income is taxed differently based on the type, amount, or recipient of the payment.

Federal Taxes

The US tax system is governed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the United States:

  • Employers report regularly on any tax withholdings for earnings and payments made throughout the calendar year
  • Individuals file an individual year-end statement of all income and exemptions, which are used to calculate actual taxes owed

Each spring, employers, banks, and other institutions issue individual summaries of all financial activities for the previous year to help in the year-end filing process.

Once an individual’s earnings for the year are summarized and totaled, the actual tax amount owed for the year can be calculated. Any money withheld from payments during the year is counted as taxes already paid and refunds are granted when total withholdings are greater than the tax obligation. However, if more taxes are owed than the amount withheld during the year, individuals are responsible for making the required payment to the IRS.

Internal Revenue Services (IRS) Resources

Visit the IRS website for more information on:

Additional information about local Federal and State IRS locations can be found on the Tax Resources & Support page. 

Learn more about filing state taxes