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Determine if you need to file a non-resident or resident US tax return

To determine if you can use free, online software programs, or if  you can get free tax assistance from a VITA or AARP tax site, you first need to determine if you are required to file a federal non-resident or resident tax return. The resources below will help you do this. If you need to file a non-resident tax return, you will not be able to use the free tax preparation programs. Although some VITA programs are certified to help with foreign student returns, CTA tax sites are not and we will not be able to prepare your federal tax return. Once you have your federal “NR” return prepared, CTA can help with the filing of DC, MD or VA returns.

Resources to determine if you are a resident, non-resident, or dual status for federal (IRS) tax purposes

General:  IRS Publication 519 – U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens

Au Pairs

Studying in the US on a student visa (F or J)

State tax issues.

Even if you file a non-resident return at the federal level, you may need to file a resident state return.  For links to state information see: https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-forms. Search for “residency” or “non-resident” on the state tax website.

If you are otherwise in scope for our program, and you have completed your federal 1040NR, we may be able to help you complete your DC, Maryland or Virginia tax return. Call 202-547-7773 for more information.

Filing Your Return

  • By Hand: For the 1040NR-EZ and 1040NR forms and instructions, please see below.
    • 1040NR-EZ: Form and Instructions
    • 1040NR: Form and Instructions
    • From 8843 (you must file this even if you did not earn enough money to file Form 1040NR or NR-EZ)
  • Tax Software options:
    • Many universities provide free access to Glacier tax software for international students. Please contact the international student services division at your university to ask if they provide access to this, or another tax preparation software program. Glacier Tax Prep only prepares federal returns. https://www.glaciertax.com/
    • Another commercial program is SprintTax which has paid options for both federal and state returns. https://www.sprintax.com/

IRS Language Glossaries. The IRS has prepared the following glossaries to translate the federal tax terminology for non-English speaking taxpayers.


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