Work and Travel

Tax Information

TAX INFORMATION

As exchange visitors working in the U.S., you are required to pay some, but not all of the taxes which U.S. citizens are responsible for paying. In the U.S., income taxes are imposed by Federal, State, and local governments.

J-1 students are exempt from Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) withholdings. Please view your paycheck withholdings and ensure that FICA is not being withheld from your paycheck. If it is, please notify your employer and contact GEC as well. If the FICA is not refunded by your employer, you can claim the FICA back when you file your taxes in April.

In many foreign countries, the government assesses and collects the tax from individuals. In the U.S., it is each individual’s personal responsibility to meet his or her tax obligations. Everyone in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status, is responsible each year for submitting a complete and accurate income-tax statement to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an agency of the U.S. Treasury Department responsible for collecting taxes. Americans call the process “filing a tax return”. As a GEC sponsored J-1 participant in the U.S., you must also file a tax return.

The U.S. tax year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31 in regards to income earned through work. All participants are required to file a U.S. Federal tax return, called the 1040NR or 1040 NR-EZ. These forms and instructions can be obtained from the IRS website, www.irs.gov, and they are usually available at the beginning of each year.

You must file your tax return by April 15 each year for the previous tax year. Your employer will provide you with the necessary documents you will need to file your taxes.

You are responsible for estimating how much of your income should be withheld (or deducted) for taxes. You will complete a W-4 form specifying your tax deduction information and an I-9 form to present your tax-payer identification number (your SSN.) These documents are completed at the time you report to your employer for your work opportunity. Your employer pays the tax amounts directly to the U.S. Treasury on your behalf.

In your annual tax return, you must reconcile your account with the government to verify that you have paid the correct amount over the course of your program. If you paid too much, you may receive a refund. If your employer does not deduct taxes from your paycheck on your behalf, you are responsible for paying those taxes when you file your tax return. Tax forms are available online at www.irs.gov.

Most states have an income tax and you must also file a state tax return. The deadline for filing a state tax return is generally the same date as for your federal return. Forms and more information can be found online at each state’s official website. Generally, you will be responsible for Federal, State and City Income Tax but will not have to pay Social Security, Medicare or Federal Unemployment Tax.

Since taxes can be confusing, vary by immigration status, vary by country and have expensive penalties if not paid on time, GEC recommends you consult a U.S. tax advisor in order to assist you with filing your tax return. The tax advisor may also be familiar with any tax treaties between the U.S. and your home country that might make you eligible for a tax refund.

April 15 is the day tax returns are due. Don’t miss this deadline. You will be penalized if you are late.

You should file your tax return because it’s the LAW. Failure to file your tax return with the IRS could affect your ability to re-enter the U.S. in the future.

For additional questions, consult a U.S. tax advisor or contact GEC for a reputable company experienced in filing J-1 tax returns.

W-2 Form

The IRS requires employers to report wage and salary information for employees on Form W-2. Your W-2 also reports the amount of federal, state and other taxes withheld from your paycheck. As an employee, the information on your W-2 is extremely important when preparing your tax return. Employers are required to mail out the W-2 by January 31st of each calendar year reporting the wages you earned in the U.S. in the previous year.

It is very important for you to leave a forwarding address for your employer so that the W-2 can be mailed to you. In the event that the employer mails your W-2 to GEC to forward to you, we will mail directly to your Foreign Partner Agency for distribution and will send you a message that the W-2 has been mailed. This can take several weeks from the time we receive the W-2 from your employer.

To avoid delays, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THAT YOUR HOST ORGANIZATION HAS YOUR ACCURATE ADDRESS ON FILE IN ORDER TO RECEIVE YOUR W-2 FORM AT THE END OF THE CALENDAR YEAR.