There are different kinds of tax in the U.S., and most are required to file a U.S. Federal Income Tax Return. Note that CIE advisors are unable to do tax advising. However, the information provided in this website addresses most questions and external resources are also listed. We also encourage you to visit the IRS website.

Overview of U.S. Taxes: This PDF outlines different kinds of tax in the U.S., tax residency, tax treaties, taxation without a U.S. income, tax exemptions from Social Security and Medicare, and completing a W-4.

General Info on Tax Return – Tax Year 2016: Learn who must file federal and state tax returns and what is needed before preparing a tax form. Most of your questions will be answered by this document.

If you have additional questions please refer to the handouts listed at the bottom of this page. ISSS does not provide individual tax assistance.  

To help international students and scholars meet their filing obligations, ISSS has purchased access to Glacier Tax Prep, a tax preparation software. Glacier Tax Prep will determine which tax forms you need, and will complete them for you as you answer questions. You will still need to print and mail the forms. Glacier Tax Prep is designed only for non-resident aliens for tax purposes. Most international students or scholars fall into this non-resident category. Glacier Tax Prep also includes a comprehensive FAQ on many tax related issues.

Each year during tax season all international students and scholars will be emailed about Glacier Tax Prep, including a password to access Glacier Tax Prep. If you do not receive the email, please email us at and request the tax email be sent to you. Please include your full name, the length of time that you have been at UT, and your visa category.

Tax Assistance

VITA Assistance

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a volunteer outreach program funded and managed by the IRS. It is available only to students or scholars with annual income under $54,000 or to people over age 60.

The university offers two locations of VITA assistance in Spring 2017. In order to assure you visit the correct VITA site, see the tax residency handouts below or use the GTP software sent out by CIE. No appointment is necessary. Please bring all tax forms with you for efficient use of the volunteer’s time.

Nonresident Alien VITA Site
Mondays: 5pm-7pm
Thursdays: 6pm-8pm
International House, 1623 Melrose Avenue
Feb 13 – Apr 14, except Spring Break

Resident VITA Site
Tuesdays: 6pm-8pm
Wednesdays: 5pm-7pm
UT College of Law, 1505 W. Cumberland Avenue
Feb 6 – Apr 14, except Spring Break

Please visit the IRS website for other Knoxville locations where VITA is offered. Availability of times and dates vary from location to location.


Internal Revenue Service (IRS) local office:
710 Locust Street
Knoxville, TN, 37902.

This office is not able to answer questions concerning non-resident tax returns, but they do assist tax residents. They have IRS publications and forms, accept ITIN applications, and they can help with administrative questions, such as “Where is my refund?”

IRS National Office

Tax Forms and other information is available on the IRS website.

Toll-free information telephone helpline: 1-800-829-1040 (If you are a non-resident, ask for a non-resident specialist).

Recorded information: 1-800 829-4477 (See IRS Pub. 910 for a list of topics).

Unusual problems with past tax returns: 615-250-5000 (in Nashville, TN) or 877-777-4778 (toll free).

To request forms and publications: 1 800-829-3676.

If you are outside the U.S., call 215-516-2000 and choose option “2″ (This is not a toll-free number).

Paid Tax Preparers

Students or scholars with complicated situations (for example, someone who earned investment income such as stock dividends or capital gains) are strongly recommended to consider paying a tax preparer to complete their tax return. Be sure to find out if the tax preparer has experience with tax non-residents. There is typically a fee charged (at least $100) to prepare a tax return.

Tax Handouts

General Information (Tax Year 2016)

Handout Description
W-4 Handout Provides information on what is the W-4 Form and how to fill it out. Information is only for Tax Non-Residents.
ITIN Instructions
General Info on Tax Return General information for International Students and Scholar on how to file U.S. Federal Income Tax.
No Income Instructions Tax filing requirements for persons with J or F status with no U.S. income last year.
Going Home This Year Provides information on how to file taxes after you have moved outside of the U.S.
How Do I Find Tax Forms List of common tax forms for non-resident and resident tax returns.
SS Tax Handout Provides information on Social Security/Medicare Taxes: What is exempt? What if I paid by mistake?
Dual Status Alien Tax Return Information on how to file for those who changed to a Tax Resident last year (after January 1).
FAQ’s CIE staff is not able to answer individual tax questions. Please see this handout to find answers to the most frequent asked questions.
Resources on Non-resident Taxes IRS Publications, offices and phone numbers; Vita and free file service; other resources.

Tax Residency

Handout Description
Resident vs non-resident Explanation How to calculate your tax residency and how do tax laws differ for residents and non-residents.
Residency worksheet for J-1 scholars Worksheet to determine residency status for tax purposes to be used by J-1 Scholars and J-2 dependents.
Residency Worksheet for Students Worksheet to determine residency status for tax purposes to be used by F-1 / J-1 Students and F-2 / J-2 dependents.
Residency worksheet for H-1B Worksheet to determine residency status for tax purposes to be used by H-1B Employees and other persons who are not in F or J immigration status.
Residency Examples

Tax Treaties

Handout Description
Tax Treaty List List of countries with Tax Treaties with the U.S.
Tax Resident claiming treaty benefits Information for Tax Residents on how to claim a tax treaty benefit.
India Tax Treaty  Brief summary of treaty provisions for Indian students (not scholars).

Updated February 2016