Immigration Tax Obligations for International Students in 2021

February 24, 2021
By International Student & Scholar Services

This communication was originally sent as an email to F and J Penn international students on February 23, 2021. 


The 2020 tax filing season (for income earned through December 31, 2020) is here! We are writing to remind you about your U.S. tax obligations as an international student at Penn.

You are legally required to file a U.S. tax return if you worked in the U.S. or received a stipend, grant or allowance in 2020. If you had U.S. source income, you should have already received one or more forms indicating the type and the amount of income received. Even if you did not work or receive income in the U.S., you are still legally obliged to file Form 8843 with the IRS. The filing deadline for this form is **June 15, 2021.**

The University of Pennsylvania has mailed the required tax forms to students. Below is the timeline of tax forms from the university. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive and that some forms may not be applicable to you: 

  • Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement: On or about January 31, 2021
  • Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement: On or about January 31, 2021
  • Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding: On or about March 15, 2021

If you have not received your forms by March 15th, please see for instructions on how to obtain them. Please direct any questions related to Forms W-2 or 1042-S to the Penn Employee Solution Center at 215-898-7372 or

Should you have questions regarding Form 1098-T, see this page on the SRFS website.

If you received income through authorized off-campus employment in 2020, you may receive a tax document from your employer (typically a 1099 or W-2). All inquiries regarding such tax documents should be directed to your employer.

ISSS has partnered with Sprintax to guide you through the tax filing process, prepare the necessary tax documents and even check if you are eligible for a tax refund. Sprintax will help you complete your federal tax forms free of charge. If you want to use Sprintax to file a state return, you can do so at your own expense at a discounted rate.

Process for Filing with Sprintax

  1. Create a Sprintax account at this link.
  2. Complete Sprintax’s online questionnaire
  3. Enter your unique access code in the box on the ‘Review your order’ page. In order to obtain this unique access code you will need to:
    1. Log into iPenn ( with your PennKey username and password.
    2. Once logged into iPenn, click “Taxes” on the left menu.
    3. Finally, select the subheader “Sprintax System” to obtain your unique access code for Sprintax. 
  4. Utilize Sprintax to finish preparing your tax return.

As a reminder, you must print, sign and mail your documents once you complete the preparation process in the Sprintax software.

Please note that ISSS does not have expertise to assist you in preparing your tax return. If you have any questions, please use the live chat function in Sprintax and the Sprintax team will be happy to help.

Additionally, note that certain tax preparation services (for example, TurboTax) should not be used by individuals who are non-residents for tax purposes, which applies to most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas. See the section titled “Resident or Non-Resident for Federal Tax Purposes” our tax page for more information on determining your tax residency:

Sprintax has online resources available. Check out a tax filing webinar and other resources from Sprintax here:

If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) but are receiving U.S. source income such as a non-service fellowship, scholarship or grant that goes beyond tuition, fees, and the allowance for books/supplies (for more information, please see, then you may need an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes. Please see to find out how you can obtain an ITIN.