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Filing taxes can be complicated. OISS and other units on campus are here to help. Filing federal income tax forms is the personal responsibility of each international student and scholar. Individuals are responsible for the accuracy of their income tax returns and any resulting penalties or interest that may be charged. You will need to file both federal and state tax forms. You might also need to file forms or pay city taxes.

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How to File · Get Help · IRS Forms · State & City Taxes · Avoid Scams

You must file tax forms if you have you earned any income (even a small amount) in the U.S. during the calendar year 2019.

Examples include:

  • Wages for on-campus or off-campus employment
  • interest/dividends on U.S. investments
  • independent contractor income
  • scholarship income
  • free housing and other non-wage contributions

You must file your federal and state income tax return forms no later than April 15, 2021.

How to File Your Tax Forms


Step 1: Find out if you are a non-resident or resident for tax purposes

How you file your taxes depends heavily on whether you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes or a resident for tax purposes. Even if you are not a citizen of the U.S. and are in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status like F-1 or J-1, you might be considered a resident for tax purposes. 

To figure out whether you should file your taxes as a non-resident or resident, use the MSU College of Law Worksheet-Status (PDF).

Questions about the worksheet should be directed to the MSU College of Law Tax Clinic: taxclinic(at)

Step 2: Receive income statements from your employer(s)

By January 31st, you will receive one or more of the following statements from your employer(s):

  • W-2 Wage and Tax Statement
  • 1099 Miscellaneous Income
  • 1042-S Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding

You will use the statement(s) you received to fill out your tax forms. Keep the statement(s) safe place so they are easy to find when you need them. 

Step 3: Fill out the forms with professional help

What forms do I need to complete? How do I fill the forms correctly? Where should I send the forms? Take advantage of the free professional tax filing support for international students and scholars on campus. Please go to the sections below based on your tax filing residency status to determine where to go for support. Every year, many international students and scholars receive tax filing help from these resources.

Step 4: Keep copies of all the documents and send the original forms to the IRS

Before sending the forms and statements to the IRS remember to keep copies of all your tax filing documents for your records.

Step 5: File state and city tax forms

Your federal tax forms will help you find out what your adjusted gross income is. Adjusted gross income is your total income minus any deductions that you are eligible for. You will need to know your adjusted gross income to begin filling out state and city tax forms. Learn more about state and city income taxes below. 

Get Help Filing Your Taxes

To figure out whether you should file your taxes as a non-resident or resident, use the MSU College of Law Worksheet-Status (PDF).

Non-Residents for Tax Purposes

The MSU College of Law Tax Clinic holds interactive seminars for International Students and Scholars filing taxes as non-residents to assist you in preparing your federal and Michigan income tax returns using GLACIER, a web-based tax return preparation system. At the end of the instructional course, participants will have prepared their own returns and they will be ready for filing.

When to register

You must register online on or after February 1st.

How to register

To register, visit the MSU College of Law Tax Clinic website. You will choose a session and obtain a list of documents required to complete your tax forms. Only individuals who register online will be allowed to enter the seminar rooms.

What to bring for the seminar

You must bring a laptop in order to participate in a tax seminar. Attendees without a laptop will not be allowed to enter seminar rooms. Tablets and smart phones will not work. 

Residents for Tax Purposes

MSU Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program at MSU offers free tax preparation to international students and scholars who must file taxes as residents for tax purposes.

Learn more about MSU VITA and schedule an appointment and the location on the MSU VITA website.

MSU Employees

If you work for MSU as a student, scholar, faculty or staff member, the MSU Payroll Office has information to help you understand your general tax obligations. Before using this information, you will need to find out if you are non-resident or resident for tax purposes.

Tax Walk-In Advising

If you have specific questions about taxes Tax Walk-in Advising is available at the International Center. Tax Walk-in advisers cannot help you fill out your tax forms. They can answer specific questions you have about your taxable income and income taxes. Check our OISS Events Calendar for Tax Walk-in Advising hours and location. 

IRS Forms, State & City Taxes


IRS Websites

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has information on their website for international students and scholars. These webpages are good resources for detailed information about federal taxes. 

IRS Forms for Non-Residents for Tax Purposes

IRS Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents

"EZ" means "Easy". You may be able to use this form if your only income from U.S. sources is wages, salaries, tips, refunds of state and local income taxes, scholarship or fellowship grants, and you do not claim any dependents. If you do not qualify to use this form, you must use the 1040-NR. 

IRS Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return

IRS Forms for Residents for Tax Purposes

IRS Form 1040EZ, Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents

IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

State Taxes

Michigan Taxes

The Michigan Department of Treasury website has information and required forms you need to file. They also offer an online form you can use to ask specific information about your tax situation by entering your SSN and last name.  

Michigan Free Tax Help website

I worked in another state, do I have to file tax forms in that state too?

If you worked in another state, you may need to file tax forms in both Michigan and the other state. You will need to learn more about your filing requirements on the tax websites for that state. 

Michigan has tax agreements, called reciprocal agreements, with some states in the Mid-West and on the East Coast. These agreements between two states allow residents of one state to request exemption from tax withholding in the other (reciprocal) state. This can save you the trouble of having to file tax forms in multiple states. 

Learn more about reciprocal agreements on the Turbo Tax website

Learn which states have reciprocal agreements on the Turbo Tax website

Tax Websites for Other States

Here is a list of tax websites for states where MSU international students and scholars commonly work:

State of California Franchise Tax Board

State of Illinois Department of Revenue

State of Indiana Department of Revenue

State of New York Department of Taxation and Finance

State of Virginia Tax

States Without Income Taxes

Seven states do not have an income tax, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Tennessee and New Hampshire tax only dividend and interest income, not earned income. However, if you live in Michigan and you worked in those states, you may have to include the income you earned in those states on your Michigan tax forms. 

City Taxes

City of East Lansing

The City of East Lansing's income tax took effect on January 1, 2019. The following individuals are required to file an individual tax return, form EL-1040, for the City of East Lansing:

  • If you lived in the City during any part of the tax year and had taxable income.
  • If you did not live in the City, but earned more than $600 of taxable income from within City limits.

Learn more about East Lansing city income taxes on the City of East Lansing income tax website.

Income Tax Fact Sheet for Individuals (PDF)

City of Lansing

Lansing has a city income tax requirement. If you live in Lansing, but work in East Lansing, you will need to pay Lansing city income taxes. The deadline to pay Lansing city income taxes is April 30th. 

Learn more about Lansing city income taxes on the City of Lansing income tax website.

Other Cities in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Treasury website has a list of cities in Michigan that have an income tax requirement.


Contact the city government directly. 

Avoid IRS/Tax Scams

International students and scholars have reported getting calls from people claiming to be from the IRS. These are scammers, or criminals, who are trying to steal money. The IRS will never call you and ask you to pay over the phone. Do not give your personal information, like your social security number, to these scam callers.

Learn more about scam calls on our Avoid Immigration Scam wepage.