It is that time of year again. Time to go gather your paperwork so you can file your USA taxes. There are so many tax laws and regulations that can change each year, that most Americans rely on specialists who are specifically trained and certified to help them complete their taxes. If you are in the USA on a J-1 or other type of visa, this adds another layer of complexity to this topic.
But not to worry, you do not have to figure out what to do on your own. You do not even have to do all the paperwork yourself. Keep reading to find out how.
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What forms do you need to file your USA taxes?
The two most common forms are called the W-2 and the 1099 MISC. Your employer (or employers) will send you one of these forms at the beginning of the year. These forms list your income, taxes that were already taken out of your paycheck, and other information you will need to file your USA taxes.
- This is a standard employment form. Picture a normal full time employee at a company and this is what they will commonly receive.
- Taxes have been taken out of paychecks.
- This is a form most often provided to freelance or independent contractors hired by a company.
- Taxes have not been taken out of paychecks.
What if you do not receive your tax forms?
- Did you move at all while you were in the US? You need to notify your employer any time you move. This way they can send any important documents to the right address.
Solution: Call or email any employer you are missing a form from. Confirm the address they have for you on record. If it is incorrect, make sure they have your new address to re-send you your form.
- No longer in the US? It is possible they will not mail your forms to you if you are no longer in the US.
Solution: Ask your sponsor to receive your tax forms on your behalf. They may even scan or forward the forms to your address abroad. Keep in mind they may charge an extra fee for this.
- No forms by March? Even if you have contacted your previous or current employer(s), you may not receive your tax form(s) in time. However, you are still required to file your taxes on time.
Solution: Contact the IRS. They even have a video that goes into detail on what to do.
How to file your USA taxes
- You can file your USA taxes by yourself directly with the IRS OR
- Work with the experts at Taxback.com*. Their team of qualified and experienced tax professionals have been processing refunds for students and people all over the world since 1996. Not convinced? We have an in-depth talk with them about their knowledge on USA taxes for J-1 visa holders here.
How much does filing cost?
Do you want an easy process with experienced professionals? If you want help getting your maximum refund, Taxback.com* customers are charged only $60 for Federal return and $30 for State return + handling fee.
Remember, with Internship Saver you can save up to $20 on filing fees. This means you could pay as little as $40 + handling fee if you do not have to file a State return!
What if you do not file your tax return?
When we asked Taxback.com* this question, here is how they responded:
If your income from US sources is above certain thresholds, you are legally obliged to file a federal and state tax return for each year you are present in the US. You will have to file a federal tax return if your income is over $4,050. However, the thresholds for state tax returns vary from state-to-state – for instance it’s $16,597 for California and $33 for Pennsylvania.
Even if your internship does not pay a salary and you have no other US income you will still need to file a form 8433.
Income is taxed on an annual basis. In other words, when you are filing your tax return in April 2018, you will be paying tax on income received from January 1st – December 31st 2017.