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Tax information for UW International Scholars

Note that advisors in International Scholars Operations (ISO) are not tax professionals and cannot give tax advice.


As an international scholar at the University of Washington, you must file certain tax forms each year whether or not you earned an income. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. government agency that collects federal income taxes. Tax forms (commonly called “tax returns”) are usually due April 15. They are based on earnings or presence in the U.S. during the previous calendar year, though there may be exceptions to that deadline.

If you earned income in the U.S. and your employer deducted money from your paycheck and sent the money to the IRS, the amount deducted may not equal the amount you owe at the end of the year. If too much was deducted, you may be eligible for a refund. Or, if too little was deducted, you may owe still more.

U.S. tax laws are complex and confusing, and the laws that apply to international scholars are not the same as those that apply to U.S. citizens. The resources provided below may help you better understand your tax obligations, learn where to go for more information, and successfully submit your tax forms. If you have questions about your tax obligations, we recommend you contact the IRS.


GLACIER Tax Prep is a free, online resource to assist international scholars and their dependents in preparing U.S. federal income tax forms. UW scholars can access the GLACIER program with their UW Net ID from anywhere in the world.

GLACIER determines your U.S. residency status for tax purposes. If GLACIER determines that you are a non-resident for tax purposes, it will:

  • Verify each type of payment for any applicable income tax treaty exemptions
  • Complete the correct U.S. income tax form
  • Prepare additional statements or attachments as applicable
  • Print the tax return and all attachments (the IRS does not allow international scholars to file a tax return electronically)
  • Provide detailed instructions about how, when and where to submit the tax return, including information about any documents you need to attach to your tax return

If GLACIER determines you are “dual status” or a “resident” for tax purposes, it will not prepare your tax forms; in that case, you will need to prepare your tax forms yourself. You may work with a professional tax preparer if you prefer.

More information on GLACIER Tax Prep is available on the International Students Services’ Tax Information page. ISO does not administer GLACIER and cannot provide additional information or technical support for GLACIER.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

If you are filing a tax return and your dependents are not eligible to apply for a Social Security number, they may be eligible for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is only necessary to file a tax return and confers no other benefit.

Tax Filing Recommendations

  • Make photocopies of your documents for your records
  • Complete the correct form; it is easy to mix up 1040NR with the 1040, for instance
  • Sign and date all forms
  • Mail your tax return, or submit it online, before the deadline
  • Start the process using GLACIER Tax Prep. GLACIER will determine whether you are a resident or non-resident for tax purposes. If you are a non-resident for tax purposes, GLACIER will guide you through the entire tax-filing process

Identity Theft

Beware of fraud scams and internet “phishing” that use the IRS name or other tax-related references to gain access to your personal information. Don’t become a victim of identity theft! The IRS does not send unsolicited emails or request personal information by email. It also does not request PIN numbers, passwords, or similar secret access information to individuals’ credit cards, banks or other financial accounts. You can learn more about scams on the IRS website and report phishing scams to the IRS.


Other resources for filing your taxes may include, among others: