Each individual employed within in the United States is responsible for compliance with income tax regulations. Based on discussions with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this office understands that salaries and wages in payment for work performed by non-citizens, as well as some scholarships and grants awarded to F-1 students, come under U.S. tax laws.
Teaching and research assistantships are considered employment and income tax will be withheld. Between January 1 and April 15 each year, everyone who has earned U.S. income and F-1 students who received a scholarship or grant from U.S. sources during the previous calendar year are required to prepare an income tax report and file it with the IRS.
Tax forms are available online, at the post office, and at most libraries. Detailed IRS instructions accompany these forms. If too much tax has been withheld, a refund will be granted. Because of the complexity of income tax laws, it is advisable to have questions answered by the IRS or by a reliable tax consultant.
Additionally, all F-1 students must file IRS form 8843 regardless of whether they have earned income in the U.S.
The IRS offers international students assistance in completing both form 8843 and tax forms at a Saturday workshop on our campus in late February or early March.
Social security tax
You are subject to FICA (Social Security) tax withholdings if you are a “resident for tax purposes.” Generally, F-1 students become “residents” for tax purposes after they have been in the U.S. for five years. Full-time students may retain “non-resident” status beyond five years in some circumstances.
Immigration status and tax withholding
For taxation purposes, an employer must know an employee's immigration status (such as F-1, J-1, H-1B, or permanent resident). If the employer does not have the correct immigration status, he will not be able to withhold the correct amount of income and social security tax. If the proper amount of taxes is not withheld, the employee will eventually be subject to a retroactive bill for back taxes. This could be a sizable amount of money.
Students employed by WSU are responsible for informing Payroll Services of their immigration status when employment begins.
While employed by WSU, a student must also notify Payroll Services, the international student advisor, and the hiring department if immigration status changes to another status (such as from F-1 to H-1B; or from permanent resident or immigrant).
Students are responsible for this notification, which is necessary to keep WSU's records current and consistent.
Obtaining a social security card
Individuals authorized for employment in the U.S. must have a social security number (SSN) to be paid. Prior to applying for a SSN, you must have the following documents:
- Letter verifying an offer of employment
- Letter from your international student advisor verifying your employment eligibility
- Valid passport
- I-94 arrival/departure record
Social Security Administration
- Location: 811 E. Sprague, Suite A, Spokane, WA 99202
- Telephone: 800.772.1213
- Hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
- Click here for more information about SSN for non-citizens.
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