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Filing Your Taxes

The following information and resources are to help you file your income taxes. Please note that information on this website is usually updated in early February to reflect the year's tax filing period.

Taxes must typically be paid on a yearly basis for income from the previous year. For example, taxes on income from January 2020 - December 2020 must be filed in early 2021. 

Income from 2020 

Even if you earned no income in 2020, if you were present in the U.S. you may be required to file certain forms.

Federal tax forms for 2020 must be filed by May 17, 2021 (extended for this year)
Virginia tax forms must be filed by May 17, 2021 (extended for this year). If you also lived or worked in other states, their deadlines may vary.

Determining your Tax Status

The first step is to determine if you are a resident or non-resident for tax purposes. Resident or non-resident tax status is different from your immigration status. Your tax status determines which forms you complete and which tax laws apply to you. The IRS website is the best resource to help you determine your tax status. In general, most international students are non-residents for tax purposes and most J-1 scholars in the U.S. longer than 2 years and most H-1Bs in the U.S. more than 6 months are residents for tax purposes.

Non-Resident Status
You are likely considered a non-resident if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are a student in F-1 or J-1 status and you first entered the U.S. in that status anytime after December 31, 2015 and have been present in the U.S. since then only in that status.
  • You are a scholar (i.e. professor, specialist, or researcher) in J-1 status who entered the U.S. anytime after December 31, 2018 and have been present in the U.S. since then only in J-1 status.
  • You are in any other non-immigrant status and do not pass the Substantial Presence Test.

Resident Status
You are likely considered a resident if any of the following apply to you:

  • You were a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (with a "green card") during any part of 2020.
  • You pass the Substantial Presence Test. Special exceptions apply to students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 status.

Once you have determined your status for tax purposes, you are ready to file your taxes. Directions and forms for Non-Resident Tax Aliens are different from those for Resident Tax Aliens.

  • Please note that the Reves Center cannot advise on filing taxes, nor review tax forms. Other resources for international student and scholar tax information can be found on the IRS website.