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Foreign Students – Taxes


Under the directive of the SDSU President, SDSU VITA is closed effectively immediately.  We do not anticipate opening again until next year.  This is, of course, very bad news.

1. If you are a resident taxpayer there are a number of VITA sites located in San Diego County.  You can find one close to you using this tool: https://irs.treasury. gov/freetaxprep/  I would encourage you to contact the site before visiting to confirm they are going to be open.  Some sites are closing as a result of ongoing health concerns.  Also, if you are a foreign student, the IRS confirmed that no other sites in SD county are currently approved for foreign student tax returns.
2.  You can attempt to self-prepare.  If you qualify, there are a number of online free filing options.  Go to https://www.irs.gov/filing/ free-file-do-your-federal- taxes-for-free for a selection of available online options.  If you are a foreign student, there is NOT a free filing option available to you. Turbo Tax or H&R Block and many of the other popular tax prep softwares will NOT work for nonresidents/foreign students.  Nonresidents/foreign students must find a software that prepares nonresident returns.  Two options are Sprint Tax  https://www.sprintax.com/ or Glaicer Tax Prep https://www.glaciertax. com/Spt/Begin  Note that Glacier Tax Prep is $34 but does NOT do state tax returns (no California or any other state).  Sprint Tax does both - the Federal is a flat rate of $38.  The state starts at $30 but the actual rate is determined based on the complexity of the return and the state.  
3. I have now worked out a third alternative with a small CPA firm located here in San Diego County and they have agreed to serve FOREIGN STUDENTS Federal and State filings. The price is $99 for one federal and including one state return.  Additional state returns are $26.  Anyone over the VITA income limits ($57,000) will be priced at $350 or up (the ACTUAL going rate for a tax return).   This is very competative with the DIY opportunities mentioned above and with the price you would get at H&R Block, etc..  You will have the added assurance that this firm specializes in foreign students.  If you are interest, please contact Hughes and Szuberla at their website to fill out an intake form.  https://hstaxcpas.com/contact/   Mention the Promo code “STUDENT SDSU” or “STUDENT UCSD” in your message to secure the discounted pricing.
The IRS is expected to extend the filing deadline (April 15) to a later date but has not done so as of the date and time of this posting.



Any US Citizen or green card holder is automatically a US tax Resident

If you are a foreign student and not sure whether you qualify as a resident or non-resident, you can use the SPT Exemption Flowchart to determine if you are exempt from the substantial presence test (SPT).

If you determine you are subject to the substantial presence test, you are NOT automatically a resident. Use this SPT Flowchart to determine of you are a resident under the SPT. If you are a resident, go to the Resident page for more information.

Tax returns for residents and foreign students are prepared during the same VITA sessions.

What to Bring

The following items are needed in order for our volunteers to prepare your tax return. Please take a moment to browse through the list and make sure that you gather all the necessary paperwork before you come. This is a general list; so if you have any other paperwork that you think is pertinent, please bring them with you to the VITA center.

Required items:

Please download and complete the Form 13614NRYou must bring a completed Client Intake Form. This form is essential to the preparation of your tax return and you must bring it to your appointment.

  • A Completed Client Intake Form Form 13614NR
  • Must bring valid photo identification such as a passport FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS LISTED ON YOUR TAX RETURN. Most non-residents do not file jointly.
  • Social Security Card
  • Proof of Tax Residence status for you, your spouse, and all dependents, if applicable
  • Birth dates for primary, secondary, and dependents on the tax return
  • Form 1042-S Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding
  • Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from your banks (Form 1099)
  • Bank routing number and account number for Direct Deposit (your bank checkbook)
  • A copy of last year's Federal and State tax returns, if available
  • Records to substantiate any other item that you wish to include on your tax return

To book an appointment:

Schedule an Online Appointment