Generally, U.S. Citizens and non-U.S. Citizens alike who receive any type of payments, e.g., salary, stipend, honorarium, scholarship, etc., are required to file a federal tax return as well as in most states a state tax return. The U.S. tax year is a calendar year, thus tax returns filed in the spring are for the previous calendar year.
You have to file a tax return in the U.S. if:
1) You received income and received treaty benefits on that income no matter how much your income was (you received Form 1042S and the tax rate is 0% on the form) or
2) You received income of more than $3,900, which was likely reported to you on Form 1042S (with a tax rate of 14% or 30%) or Forms W-2 or Form 1099MISC or
3) If you wish to claim a refund of any taxes withheld on these forms.
You do not have to file a tax return if:
1) You were a student in the U.S. and you did not have any income or the ONLY income you received in the U.S. was financial aid / merit scholarship that was less than the tuition charged or
2) You were a speaker or participant in a conference and the ONLY income you received was reimbursements for your travel etc. or
3) Your U.S. income was less than $3,900 for 2013 and you did not receive treaty benefits (i.e., you did not receive Form 1042s or the tax rate on Form 1042s is higher than 0%).
Note: In order to get a refund of any taxes withheld from your paycheck or your financial aid, you will need to file a tax return.
Most international visitors are required to file a Form 8843 whether you have income or not. This form records your visa information and days of presence in the U.S. for purposes of the Substantial Presence Test.
Below we assembled information on how to file federal and state tax returns and how to deal with special tax situations.
HELP: I did not get my refund!
Only the IRS can help you - you have to answer specific questions on this website
to get information on your refund. If you are a foreign national and filed Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ the process of obtaining a refund can take six months or longer.