Important Terms

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The U.S. tax agency that collects taxes and enforces tax laws. The IRS website provides a helpful list of topics relevant to international students and scholars.

Income: Money earned through employment, assistantships and fellowships, awards, or non-service scholarships/fellowships/grants that exceed tuition and fees.

Income Tax Return: Annual tax forms that you complete and mail to the IRS. The term “tax return” is used because you may receive money back from the IRS. Since the withholding from your income is only an estimate, taxpayers are given a yearly opportunity to reconcile the amount taken out with how much was actually owed. The form on which the reconciliation is made is often called the “tax return.”

Tax Year: January 1 – December 31

Residency: This term refers to your tax filing status. You may be considered a “Resident” or “Non-Resident” for tax filing purposes. This is based on how many years you have been present in the U.S., not your citizenship status.

W-2: The form you receive from your employer(s) if you had a job. It documents the amount of income earned and the taxes withheld from that income. Your employer is required to send a W-2 to you on or before January 31.

1042-S: The tax form Miami issues to you if you received scholarship funding in excess of your qualified tuition charges and fees or if you received income that is exempt from withholding because of a tax treaty. This form will be provided to you no later than March 15.

Qualified Expenses: Qualified expenses refer to amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expenses required for an eligible student to enroll in or attend an eligible educational institution. You must pay expenses for an academic period that starts during the tax year or the first three months of the next tax year.

Expenses that Do Not Qualify: The following are not considered qualified education expenses even if they are paid to enroll or attend the school:

  • Room and board

  • Insurance

  • Medical expenses (including student health fees)

  • Transportation

  • Similar personal, living or family expenses

Filing Requirements: The guideline which states that, if you were present in the U.S. for any part of one calendar year, you will have to file a tax return during the following calendar year to account for the year you were present. You must file tax forms even if you had no income.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN): A tax processing number issued by the IRS. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Tax Treaty: An agreement which may exist between the U.S. and another country that exempts specific amounts of U.S.-sourced income and/or scholarship/fellowship payments from taxation. If a tax treaty between the U.S. and your country of citizenship provides an exemption from, or a reduced rate of withholding for certain items of income, you should notify the payer of your income of your foreign status in order to claim the benefits of the treaty.

Substantial Presence Test: A criterion used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S. to determine whether an individual who is not a citizen or lawful permanent resident or has not been one in the recent past qualifies as a "resident for tax purposes" or a "non-resident” for tax purposes.