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All international students and scholars are required to report to the U.S. tax service (known as the Internal Revenue Service) each year — even if they did not work during the prior year. You will not necessarily need to pay taxes; but you must at least report your presence in the U.S. This is a legal requirement. Although UKIC staff cannot advise on tax issues, we hope to give you basic information here as a helpful starting point.

ISSS has purchased tax software to help you fulfill your federal tax obligations. This software will ask you a series of questions and will use your answers to fill in all necessary U.S. government tax forms for you.  It will also inform you of any tax treaty benefits that may apply to you.  See the webinar and FAQ below for more information on how to use and gain access to this free software. 

NOTE:  Sprintax is free for federal tax forms only.  Sprintax will charge a fee if you want help filing a state tax return.  If you want free assistance with state tax forms please visit the UK College of Law Tax Clinic or the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to file?

If you first arrived in the U.S. on or after January 1, 2024 and if you were not present in the U.S. at all during 2023, you currently have no tax filing obligations — but you will need to file next year, so check back then on what to do. If you were present in the U.S. for even one day during 2023 (this tax filing year) you have tax filing obligations. Keep reading for when, what and how to file. 

I didn’t work in this tax filing year. Do I still need to file a tax return? 


Sources of U.S. income may include certain types of income received scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships, practical or academic training, and any compensation received for labor. For more information about other types of income and whether you need to file a tax return, please read this blog post.


Even if you don’t need to file a tax return, all nonresidents who are present in the U.S. under an F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2, Q-1, or Q-2 immigration status MUST file Form 8843 “Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition” even if they received NO income during this tax filing year. The individual must file Form 8843, regardless of his or her age and even if he or she is not required to file a U.S. income tax return. For more information, refer to this blog post.

When to file

Students must wait until they've received all documents from the university and/or other organization before filing a tax return. Failure to do so, may cause a delay or problem with your tax return. 

The University of Kentucky payroll office is not expected to mail the Form 1042-S until March 15. 

Other documents from employers, banks, and charitable organizations may also not arrive until later. International students and scholars may need these forms in order to file their tax return, especially if you claiming a tax treaty, have a scholarship, fellowship, research or teaching assistantship. Therefore, please wait until you receive all of your forms before filing your tax return. 

J-1 Scholars 

The earliest ISSS recommends that J-1 scholars file their taxes is February 1 (unless you are waiting for the 1042-S or other documents from the IRS)* 

F-1 and J-1 International Students 

The earliest ISSS recommends that F-1 and J-1 international students file their taxes is March 1 (unless you are waiting for the1042-S or other documents from the IRS)* 

*How do I know if I will receive a 1042-S from the University of Kentucky? 

Form 1042 is for any nonresident visa holder with a fellowship (student or post-doc) and nonresident visa holder who will receive tax treaty benefits. UK Payroll generally issues about 700-800 1042s forms each year.

IRS Deadline

The federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2023 tax year will be April 15, 2024If you had no income and will only be filing Form 8843, you should also file by this date. If you are unable to file your forms by the due date, you must submit an Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Your Tax Return Form 4868 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax Treaties

The United States has over 50 tax treaties with different countries. The treaties vary in terms of the benefits they offer to students, the types of income covered, the total amount of the exemption, and the number of years you could claim the benefit. If you file your tax forms with a tax software, the software will automatically factor in any benefit offered through a tax treaty with your country. 

For more information on tax treaties, including a list of the countries that the United States has tax treaties with, see IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties. Note that tax treaties vary in their implications for state taxes.

What and how to file

Step 1: Gather the following documents: 

(Note: You may not have or need some of these; this is a list of all the documents you might need.) 

  • Passport, Visa, I-94 record 
  • Your Exit and Entry Dates for all past U.S. visits 
  • Your I-20, DS-2019, or other immigration documents 
  • Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification Number. If you need but have not yet applied for an ITIN using a W-7, a Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) must certify your original documents in order to file a Form W-7 (ITIN) with your tax return (1040-NR). More information on the process is available here: (Click on Lexington/Services provided: then “More information” after W-7:
  • Current U.S. Address AND Permanent Foreign Address 
  • Name of Educational Institution or Sponsoring Organization 
  • Form(s) W-2, 1042-S, 1099 *
  • Scholarship or Fellowship grant letters (if no related Form 1042-S) 
  • Copy of past year’s tax forms (if you had any)

Additional Information regarding tax documents issued by UK:

  • W-2s are available to all student and other employees in their myUK “Employee Self-Service” tab (unless they opted to receive them by mail).
  • 1042-S forms aren’t mailed out until March 15th.
  • 1098-T is also being made available but please note that the 1098-T cannot be used by nonresidents on their Federal tax returns.
  • For students who have graduated recently from the University of Kentucky, your access may still be available for a short period of time. If you have forgotten your user ID or password, contact the UK Help Desk at 859-218-HELP (4357) or

Former students and employees can also get access to their W-2 documents through the myDocs Self-Service Document Portal which is available at this link:

Step 2: Use Sprintax to file your federal tax return and/or forms.

UKY has purchased Sprintax to help you fulfill your tax obligations. This software will ask you a series of questions and will use your answers to fill in all necessary U.S. government tax forms for you. It will also inform you of any tax treaty benefits that may apply to you.  

International students can now access this software through the International Office Online Services portal, iCAT. By logging into iCAT you will not need a separate code to access the system. Just log into the iCAT system with your University of Kentucky link blue campus username and password and click the link for the Sprintax software located under the tab labeled “Taxes” (this tab is only available during the filing period).

To login to iCAT click here.

If you are unable to login to iCAT please send an email to

NOTE:  Some J-1 exchange visitors will receive in their email a discount code (instead of using iCAT) for use in filing a federal return. 

Step 3: Confirm whether you had US income during this tax filing year

Sprintax will have helped you figure this out. Note that U.S. income includes earned wages, as well as some non-UKY scholarships, stipends, prizes, awards, winnings, etc. 

If you had no U.S. income during 2023, you are not required to file a state tax return. Send in your signed federal forms and you will be done for the year! 

Step 4: If you had US income during this tax filing year, you also must file a state tax return. 

State taxes may have different residency guidelines then U.S. taxes. Some students and scholars may even be exempt from filing state taxes. To find out more you may contact one of the outside vendors or resources listed below. 


Outside Vendors and State Tax Filing Resources for Guidance: 

Some of these vendors are NOT free! For most students and scholars the information on this page and the Sprintax tax software system will be enough to successfully file a federal tax return. But if you have further questions or more complex tax circumstances you may wish to contact one of these resources listed.* 

  • University of Kentucky College of Law - FREE
    • The UK College of Law recommends using Sprintax to do your federal return, if possible, before coming to the College of Law site for help with the state tax return). See FAQ here.  
  • Other VITA services - FREE 
  • Sprintax
    • The Federal tax forms (Form 1040-NR, 1040-NREZ, Form 8843 etc.) are free for UK international students/scholars but there is a FEE for assistance in filing a state tax return.

*Note: This list of tax services is for general information purposes only. The University of Kentucky makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, availability, or security of these tax services. Using any of these services is voluntary taken at your own risk. IN NO EVENT WILL THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR DAMAGES BASED ON LOSS OF DATA, PROFITS, REVENUES OR OPPORTUNITIES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THESE TAX SERVICES WHETHER OR NOT A PARTY HAD OR SHOULD HAVE HAD ANY KNOWLEDGE, ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE, THAT SUCH DAMAGES MIGHT BE INCURRED.

Tax Forms and Publications

For more detailed information on filing taxes, visit our tax pages for students and scholars. 

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues to an individual who needs to report income but is ineligible to obtain a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration.

You do not need an ITIN if:

  • You have a Social Security Number or are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number.
  • You have no income and will only file IRS Form 8843

You can use this online tool to determine your eligibility for an ITIN:

How to obtain an ITIN:

  1. Bring your passport with F-1 visa stamp and I-20 to the ISSS office to be certified.
  2. A Student Immigration Specialist will issue certified copies of your documents with a DSO certification letter.
  3. Complete ITIN Application (Form W-7) and gather ITIN application supporting documents.
  4. Mail application materials to IRS.
  5. Receive ITIN by mail. Sent to address indicated on W-7.

ITIN Processing Times times are difficult to determine and may take up to 20 weeks. Applying as early as possible is recommended to receive the ITIN before the April tax filing deadline. You can also apply for the ITIN using the Sprintax tax prep software. If you use Sprintax, you will be responsible for paying $15.95 with a credit card. Sprintax is available by logging in with your myUK credentials in iCAT: .

Applying for ITIN with your tax return:

  • When filing an ITIN application alongside a tax return, your documents cannot be certified by ISSS and must be certified by an acceptance agent.
  • Avoid sending passport by mail for certification - You may see instructions that say you should send original documents with your ITIN application.  ISSS does not recommend sending original documents to the IRS.

Individuals sometimes want to obtain ITINs for family members. The ITIN might be helpful in claiming state tax benefits and credits. Please review the IRS's ITIN application instructions to determine if, or how, your dependents might qualify for an ITIN.

If you receive an SSN in the future, you must use the SSN for tax purposes and discontinue using your ITIN.  It is your responsibility to notify the IRS so they can combine all of your tax records under one identification number.  If you do not notify the IRS when you are assigned an SSN, you may not receive credit for all wages paid and taxes withheld which could reduce the amount of any refund due.  You can visit a local IRS office or write a letter explaining that you have now been assigned an SSN and want your tax records combined.