How to get a Refund of Social Security and Medicare Taxes

Some employers do not know about the specific regulations regarding the exemption from paying Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes for non-resident aliens in general and for non-residents aliens who are in the U.S. on a F-1 (even if on OPT or CPT), J-1, M-1, or Q-1 visa specifically. Thus they withhold FICA taxes in error. However you also have a responsibility and if you did not provide comment documentation when you were hired, failed to provide a Social Security number or other forms, the employer will have acted correctly for withholding purposes and you cannot expect any change to be made to your record.

Here is what you can do to get your taxes paid back:

  1. Ask your employer to refund the erroneously withheld FICA taxes and if a W-2 was already issued, to give you a corrected Form W-2c for that year.
  2. If your employer refuses to refund the taxes, you can file Form 843 (for instructions see here) and the IRS will refund the money to you. The IRS will then send a request to the employer to correct their social security and Medicare reporting and the employer will have to send you a corrected W2c. Thus, in order to avoid a notice from the IRS, it is actually in the employers' interest to refund the taxes paid to you. In addition, the employer will be able to claim the employer's share of the taxes from the IRS.
  3. You can find further information in this IRS Article on how to file for the refund and which forms you will need to attach to the refund application to the IRS.