Tax Compliance

Georgia Tech is required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to withhold federal income tax from ALL payments made to (or on behalf of) a nonresident alien. Regulations also require that Georgia Tech report all such payments to the IRS. Therefore, Georgia Tech must review all data related to the immigration status and purpose of their stay of all payment recipients at Georgia Tech who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Determining tax residency and tax treaty eligibility is a complicated and difficult task which is why Global Human Resources at Georgia Tech uses tax compliance software called GLACIER.

2016 Tax Returns

Your 2016 tax returns must be completed by you and mailed on or before April 17, 2017. However, foreign nationals who received wages or other payments from Georgia Tech should wait until after February 12, 2016 to begin their returns. Please note: filing of income tax returns and payment of taxes is not voluntary, it is required by law. All GT non-US citizens (who are not U.S. green card holders) should first use the GLACIER tax compliance system to determine if they are a resident or nonresident alien for tax purposes.

If GLACIER determines that you are a nonresident for tax purposes you will be able to complete your federal tax return (at no cost to you) by using Sprintax. (To gain access to Sprintax you will need to submit a Sprintax Access Request Form available in iStart beginning Feb. 13, 2017.) Sprintax can also be used to prepare your state tax return (for a small fee.) 

If you qualify as a resident for tax purposes, you cannot use Sprintax. Resident aliens file taxes in the same manner as U.S. citizens and can file using regular 1040 tax forms. Therefore, there are a  number of tax preparation companies and software available for use; the IRS website provides many documents and free software to assist tax residents.

Both resident and nonresident aliens for tax purposes who claimed treaties in 2015, as well as all those students who are nonresident aliens for tax purposes receiving scholarships greater than tuition, will need a form 1042-S to complete their tax return. 1042-S forms will be released after Feb. 13, 2017.  Recipients will receive an email from GLACIER when the form is ready.

GLACIER Software

Global HR is responsible for tax compliance for payments made to all foreign national employees of Georgia Tech. To perform this task, Global HR utilizes the secure online tax compliance software program GLACIER. All foreign national employees are required to enter data related to their immigration history and presence in the United States. GLACIER will then determine their tax statuses and eligibility for treaty benefits. 

If you are a foreign national employed by GT in any capacity (student assistant, faculty, or staff) and you have not entered your personal data into GLACIER, please email nra.ask@ohr.gatech.edu for an account invitation and password.

FICA

“FICA” (which stands for "Federal Insurance Contributions Act") refers to the payroll taxes withheld from your salary that fund both the U.S. Social Security and Medicare programs. Employees who are full-time students or nonresident aliens (F-1s/J-1s) do not have to pay FICA taxes. If you are required to pay FICA taxes, the Medicare contribution is identified as “Fed MED/EE” and the Social Security contribution is identified as “Fed OASDI/EE” on your GT paycheck. The Medicare contribution is 1.45% of your taxable income, the employee’s share of the Social Security payroll tax is currently 6.2% of your taxable income.

If you are unsure of your tax status, check your GLACIER tax summary for information on your nonresident status and when you can expect to start paying FICA taxes

If you believe that Georgia Tech withheld FICA in error from your paycheck, please email nra.ask@ohr.gatech.edu.

If a non-GT employer withheld FICA in error, please read the refund instructions, and review the sample form 843 and sample form 8316.

Tax Treaties

Foreign national employees of Georgia Tech may qualify for a full or partial exemption from federal tax withholding if a tax treaty exists between the U.S. and the foreign national’s country of tax residence. The GLACIER tax compliance software will assist with determining eligibility for a tax treaty benefit and provide all of the necessary paperwork. Nonresidents must be renew the treaty on an annual basis.

Social Security Number

A social security number is a permanent nine-digit identification number/card issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is used primarily to identify participants in the federal government's Social Security Program but because it is unique to each person the number is now used by many other public and private organizations. Anyone employed in the United States must obtain a social security number.

Sprintax

Sprintax is on-line tax return preparation software created specifically for international students and scholars. The Sprintax software will help you navigate U.S. federal tax forms, residency status, tax treaties, exemptions, and deductions. Sprintax is provided for GT international students and scholars by the Office of International Education and access can be requested via employees’ iStart  accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Tax Status Important?

In order for Georgia Tech to comply with U.S. tax laws, it is necessary for GT to determine your U.S. tax residency status. The IRS has developed a test of days present in the U.S. and rules as to which foreign nationals are subject to that test: Substantial Presence Test. GT’s reporting requirements to the IRS are determined by the payee’s tax residency.

What is the Difference between a Nonresident Alien and a Resident Alien?

A nonresident alien for tax purposes is taxed only on her U.S. based income and has tax rates specific to nonresidents. A resident alien for tax purposes is subject to U.S. taxation on her worldwide income, i.e. you are taxed in the same manner as a U. S. citizen.

How Long Will I Be a Nonresident Alien?

F-1 and J-1 student visa status holders are generally nonresident aliens for tax purposes for five calendar years. J-1 nonstudent visa status holders have a more complicated test that looks at a period of two years out of six. J-1 nonstudents visa status holders often become resident aliens for tax purposes in their third calendar year in the U.S. Other nonimmigrant aliens will often become resident aliens for tax purposes in less than one year’s time. The U.S. tax system is based on a calendar year period (January 1 – December 31). In most cases, when your U.S. residency status for tax purposes changes, you will become a resident alien for tax purposes retroactive to the first day of the calendar year during which your status changed, i.e. 1 January.

What If I Do Not Submit My Forms and Documents?

If you do not complete the information in GLACIER and submit the required forms and documents, the maximum amount of tax will be withheld from all payments made to you.

 

How Will I Be Taxed as a Nonresident Alien (NRA) on Payments From U.S. Sources?

As a Nonresident Alien for Tax Purposes without a tax treaty, U.S. tax law requires that you be taxed in the following manner:

  • Employment

Employees are subject to an NRA graduated withholding table on your wages and required by tax code to file a form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate) as a single person with one allowance—regardless of your marital status.

  • Scholarships/Fellowships

Awards for mandatory tuition and fees are not reportable and not taxable.

Awards for room and board and other expenses are reportable and have 14% withheld for taxes for F, J, Q, and M visa status holders and 30% for other visa status holders.

Can I Be Exempt From Tax Withholding?

Approximately 63 countries have tax treaties with the United States and some of these treaties allow payments of one type or another to international students and/or scholars to be exempt from U.S. taxation. The tax compliance software, GLACIER will determine whether or not you qualify for a tax treaty exemption, and will provide you with the necessary information and forms to take advantage of your tax treaty benefits. Often, this paperwork must be renewed on an annual basis, so be sure to renew the paperwork at the appropriate time each year.

Still have questions? Email nra.ask@ohr.gatech.edu