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International Taxpayers

The Tax Clinic provides a number of services to nonresident aliens in the community and throughout the state of Michigan.  Whether you are an international student, a seasonal farmworker or a temporary worker in the United States, we can assist you with understanding and compling with U.S. tax laws.  This includes interpreting and claiming tax benefits under U.S. international tax treaties.  The 2017 Tax Clinic Tax Return Classes have concluded for the year. If you are a resident alien or U.S. citizen, please contact the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for a VITA site near you.  There is also a VITA site at MSU

Implementation of PATH Act ITIN Provisions (IRS Notice 2016-48)

Section 203 of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act, Pub.L. 114-113,div. Q), enacted on December 18, 2015, modified section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code, and in so doing, made significant changes to the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program. This notice explains those changes, how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will implement the changes, and the potential consequences to taxpayers who do not renew an ITIN when required by the PATH Act. Finally, this notice requests comments regarding the ITIN program and Certified Acceptance Agents (CAAs).

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number "9", formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).

To obtain an ITIN, you must complete IRS Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (PDF) . The Form W-7 requires documentation substantiating foreign/alien status and true identity for each individual. You may either mail the documentation, along with the Form W-7, to the address shown in the Form W-7 Instructions, present it at IRS walk-in offices, or process your application through an Acceptance Agent authorized by the IRS. Form W-7(SP), Solicitud de Número de Identificación Personal del Contribuyente del Servicio de Impuestos Internos (PDF) is available for use by Spanish speakers.

Acceptance Agents are entities (colleges, financial institutions, accounting firms, etc.) who are authorized by the IRS to assist applicants in obtaining ITINs. They review the applicant's documentation and forward the completed Form W-7 to IRS for processing.  Contact Professor Wease at (517) 336-8088 ext. 1030 to make an appointment to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Helpful Definitions and Explanation of Tax Terms:

Tax Return: A tax return is the form you file to disclose your income information to the Internal Revenue Service. Individual states and cities may also have their own tax returns.  MSU Tax Clinic will determine where you need to file a tax return and help you fill out your tax returns. As international students you have an obligation to file a tax return if you earn money in the United States.

W2 form: A “W2” is a wage and tax statement.  It will list the total amount of income you received for 2014.  Your employer will mail your W2 form directly to you; you should receive the form in early February.  If you change your address after you stop working, you should make sure your previous employer has your new address so the employer knows which address to mail your W2 form. 

1042-S form: Because you are an international student, you may receive a 1042-S form instead of, or in addition to, a W2 form.  Not everyone will receive a 1042-S form from their employer, but, if you do not receive a 1042-S form, you should receive a W2 form.

Withholding:  Tax withholding is the amount withheld from your paycheck each pay period.  If there is state and city tax in addition to federal tax, you will see three separate amounts of withholding: (1) federal income tax withheld; (2) state income tax withheld; and (3) local or city tax withheld.  When you file your tax returns in spring 2015, you may receive some of, or all, this money back.  Because you are a resident of China and are exempt from tax on the first $5,000 you earn, you can fill out Form 8233 to have less money withheld each  pay period.

Tax Refund: If you have too much money withheld from your paycheck, you can file a tax return to request a refund.  Each student’s situation will be different and the amount you receive in a refund depends on a variety of factors.


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