Foreign National Students 2013 Federal Income Tax Return Guide

As a foreign national on a student visa, you are required to file form 8843 with the Internal Revenue Service even if you do not have taxable scholarship/wages. For more information
about this form, please see the IRS website and our instructions HERE. In addition, if you have taxable scholarship/ wages from the College, the following pages will help you prepare your federal tax return.


If you have received a 1042S this website will explain how to schedule a Tax Desk appointment and request Swarthmore's help with your increased tax burden. However, while the information provided on this site is adequate for most Swarthmore College foreign national students, it is not a substitute for advice obtained from the Internal Revenue Service or a qualified tax professional. 

The information found on these pages applies only to Swarthmore College students who are:

  • are not married
  • have not been in the U.S. on an F or J visa for any part of more than 5 calendar years
  • cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person's U.S. tax return
  • have total income from wages exceeding $3,900 or received Form 1042-S from the College (taxable scholarship)

If you have received a 1042S:

Step 1: Make an appointment with the Financial Aid Tax Desk  Click here to schedule an appointment

Step 2: Complete the IRS form 8843 

Download  the form 8843 example and instructions.

Step 3: Gather your 2013 tax-related documents:

  • W-2 Income Statement(s):  Your employer(s) will send you a statement of 2013 wages earned and taxes withheld (Form W-2 or Form 1099).  Contact your employer if you do not receive your 2012 W-2 by early February.  If you lose your W-2, ask your employer for a new one.
  • Form 1042-S: Swarthmore College will send you a 2013 1042-S if you have taxable scholarship which must be reported on your federal tax return or if you have scholarship exempt from taxation due to a tax treaty with your country.
  • Lang, Mellon or Swarthmore Foundation grant amount:  If any of these programs award you a service, enrichment, or summer grant that isn't reflected on a W-2 Statement, collect documentation showing the amount you received during the 2013 tax year (spring semester '13; summer '13; fall semester '13).

Step 4: Determine whether your country has a tax treaty by visiting the IRS Tax Treaty information site. Note this information for your tax desk appointment.

Step 5: If you worked on campus and received a W2 complete two separate federal tax returns.  

  • First, use the amount of taxable scholarship on your 1042S to complete a 1040NREZ tax return.  See our taxable scholarship example 1040NREZ.
  • Then, complete a second federal "dummy" tax return omitting your taxable scholarship and instead using only the amounts found in Box 2 of your W2(s). Use the 2013 Tax Table [pdf] to determine the amount of tax owed. See our instructions [pdf] and sample tax returns [pdf]:
    • If you are due a larger tax refund on your dummy return than on your actual tax return, the Tax Help Desk will credit your student account for the difference.
    • If you are due a tax refund on your dummy return, but owe tax on the actual return, the Tax Help Desk will credit your student account with the amount that would have been your refund, and cut a check to the IRS for the amount due.
    • If you owe tax on your dummy return, but owe an even larger amount on your actual return, the Tax Help Desk will cut a check to the IRS for the additional amount due.

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