Tax Documents for Beginning a New Job
W-4: A W-4 is a form you complete with a new employer. This form helps the employer understand how you would like your income taxes taken out of your paycheck. Sometimes, you might be able to choose if you would like to have more taken out now, and likely receive a refund from your tax return, or if you prefer to have less taken out, and maybe have to pay taxes when you do your tax return. Please note the IES office does not have the expertise to advice you on how to complete these forms – we recommend that you ask your employer to explain the forms to you if they are not clear.
I-9: The I-9 form provides the employer with proof that you are legally allowed to work in the US. It includes a chart of different documents you need to provide to your employer. For international students, this usually includes your passport, visa, I-94 and I-20, and if you are working off-campus, proof of CPT on your I-20 or an EAD card if you have OPT. Be sure to write your name on the form as it appears on all of your other documents, to avoid any complications!
Tax Documents for your Annual Tax Return
W-2: The W-2 form is a form issued to you by an employer that summarizes the amount of money they paid you, and how much tax money was taken out, in the most recent tax year. The employer is required to send this to you in January or early February each year, so you can use it to prepare your tax return. This form is used if you were hired as an employee. This form looks a little strange – it is 3 copies of the same information. However if you look closely, usually in a corner of each copy, the different copies will be for your federal tax return, your state tax return, and a copy for your records.
1042-S: The 1042-S form is a form sometimes issued to you by an entity that issued income (including scholarships) to you and it summarizes the amount of money they paid you, and how much tax money was taken out, in the most recent tax year. The issuer is required to send this to you in January or early February each year, so you can use it to prepare your tax return. Like a W-2, this form has 3 copies of the same information intended for your records, federal tax return and state tax return.
1099: The 1099 form is an alternate to the W-2 form, and is used by employers to report your income when you are hired as a contractor. Please note that when hired as a contractor, no taxes are paid from your paycheck, so you will need to pay those taxes at the end of the year, or sometimes throughout the year. again, employers should provide you this form in January or early February for the previous tax year, so you can use the form to prepare your tax return.
1098-T: You may receive emails from the UMBC SBS office about the form 1098-T. This form is a tax form that indicates an individual has been a student in a tax year. This form can be used by Residents only, NOT by NRA’s (non-resident aliens), for a tax benefit as part of your tax return. Again, please note that anyone qualifying as a non-resident alien for tax purposes cannot use the 1098-T with their tax return.
1040: The 1040 form, the shorter version called the 1040EZ, or the version specifically for non-resident aliens, 1040NR, are the forms you would use to actually prepare your tax return. At UMBC, we provide software for NRA students that will prepare these forms for you after asking you certain questions about your income in the tax year, which can be reported from your W-2 or 1099.
8843: The 8843 form is for ALL international students, regardless of whether you have earned any money in the US in the last tax year. Anyone physically present in the US in the last tax year, who is a non-resident alien (NRA) for tax purposes, will need to prepare the short 8843 form each year. This also needs to be prepared for any dependents you have in the US. The form summarizes the amount of time you have spent in the US in the last few years. Your I-94 travel history can be very helpful in easily completing this form. At UMBC, we provide software for NRA students that will prepare this form for you (and any dependents) after asking you certain questions about your time in the US.
You may receive other forms if you have other kinds of income in the US, such as income from a large prize, from investing, or other sources besides employment.