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Tax Residency Category

Overview

The tax calculation for international students, scholars, and employees depends on your tax residency category, which is determined by your immigration status and time in the United States. You will be categorized for tax purposes as either a non-resident alien OR resident alien.

Note: Your tax residency category has NO bearing on your actual residency status with US immigration! Also, your tax residency status at the state level may be different than your Federal category.

Tax System for Non-Resident Alien

Most foreign nationals are categorized as Non-Resident Aliens for tax purposes, at least initially. This carries specific filing requirements, different forms, and more limited tax options.

As your situation or authorized activities change, it is possible to change from one category to another over time.

If you are categorized as a Non-Resident Alien for tax residency purposes, you will:

  • Be taxed only on US-sourced income
  • Face restricted withholding allowances
  • Receive Forms W-2 and 1042-S
  • File Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ tax return
  • Files 8233 (initial) and 8843 (with return) for treaty benefits
  • Have limited itemized deductions
  • Not be able to claim standard deduction (unless allowed by a treaty)
  • Request Form W-8 BEN (this is common)

Tax System for Resident Aliens

Resident Aliens are taxed the same way as US citizens and permanent residents (although eligibility for certain tax credits may be restricted in your first year).

As your situation or authorized activities change, it is possible to change from one category to another over time.

If you are categorized as a Resident Alien for tax residency purposes, you will:

  • Be taxed on worldwide income
  • Have the opportunity to claim a withholding allowance for each legal dependent
  • Receive Forms W-2 and/or 1099
  • File Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040-EZ tax return
  • Be eligible to itemize deductions or claim standard deduction

Determine Your Tax Residency Category

The University of Rochester uses an online software system called GLACIER to ensure compliance with taxation requirements and to assist foreign nationals with calculating their tax residency category.

Get started with GLACIER tax software to determine your tax residency category.