Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Tax Information for I-20 Students

Taxes in the United States are a complicated, confusing branch of the law.  It can be an intimidating topic given its scope in each of our lives.  Federal taxes represent the most well-known component, with state and local taxes also having importance.  Everything we do everyday is subject to the said reach; our daily wages, our phone bills, and every physical item we purchase in person or online are among some of the more common sources.  The tax code also contains authorization, whether explicitly written or interpreted as such, allowing governmental reach into the non-physical realm, an area that includes services and school tuition.

Penalties result from non-compliance.  They can include, but not limited to, paying back taxes with interest, to garnishment of wages, and to seizure of asset.  Depending on the nature and severity, one may also face the possibility of incarceration.  The effects on one's immigration status, current and future, cannot be accurately determined.  Pleading ignorance of the law is not a defense to non-compliance, nor will it assuage penalities.

Weill Cornell's Office of International Student Services are not tax specialists.  We are not able to answer tax questions specific to a situation.  We can point those who are interested in the direction to receive assistance. 

Filing Taxes

F-1 students must file U.S. tax returns every year even if you had no U.S. income. Students can be classified as either "nonresident alien" (NRA) or "resident alien" (NRA).  Every student’s situation is different because it is dependent upon your nonimmigrant status, the amount of time you have spent in the U.S., type of income, and if your country has a tax treaty with the United States. Please contact HR Immigration Team ( for all tax related matters.

Weill Cornell's Finance Department office has provided the following FAQ

WCM's HR office offers Sprintax as a software service to our qualifying international population. F-visa students who are in NRA status are eligible for this.  Sprintax provides annual tax workships to explain NRA compliance requirements and how individuals can use the software to prepare federal and state returns.  Information regarding Sprintax access are made available and sent to students who identified as NRAs between January - March.

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