All program participants must pay US income tax. Failure to pay any taxes owed could cause problems for you in the future if you plan on returning to the US on a new visa. Therefore, please make sure that these taxes are being withheld from your paycheck and that you file a US income tax return.
In the US, the Federal government imposes an income tax on all wage earners. The Employer generally withholds income tax from a participant’s salary and pays it directly to the government. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of your salary will be withheld for federal income tax, a portion of which you may be able to claim back as a refund at the end of the year.
As a wage-earner in the US, you are legally required to file a tax return, even though you may already have returned home at the time. Tax returns need to be filed by April 15 for the previous tax year (January 1 – December 31).
There are two methods for filing tax returns – you may use a tax filing service, such as Tax Back or complete the tax return yourself. CIEE has been working with TaxBack.com to improve the tax return process for its J-1 Exchange Visa participants. Thus, we recommend this service for any participants who are uncertain of their ability to file the forms correctly on their own. However, this is not a mandatory part of the program and all participants have the choice of using this or another similar service, or filing independently.
Should you choose to complete the tax returns yourself, you will need the following forms:
- W-2 Form – This is sent by your Host Company and details the total wages and the amount of each tax that was withheld.
- 1040NR-EZ Form – This form is specifically for non-resident aliens. It can be obtained, together with instructions for filling it out, on the Internal Revenue Service website : 1040NR Form.
- State Income Tax Form – These forms differ for each of the 50 states in the US, and you will need to complete the form for the state(s) in which you worked. A list of state tax sites is available at the website listed above (« State Tax Forms »).
- Local Income Tax form – These taxes will only be withheld in certain cities. Check with your Host Company about local statutory requirements and, if relevant, where to locate the necessary forms.
The standard deadline for filing tax return forms is April 15. The earlier you file your tax returns, the sooner you will receive any applicable refund.
Get a free estimation of your refund: Tax refund calculator