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Tax Information and Seminars

Tax Filing for Tax Year 2017

International students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and staff who were in the United States anytime during 2017 may be required to file a 2017 income tax return with both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the U.S. federal government and the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) of the State of California.

If you received any U.S. taxable income (from a regular salaried position, GRA, GTA, fellowship, scholarship, or work-study) during the 2017 calendar year, you must obtain one or more of the following forms in order to file your 2017 taxes:  W-2, 1099, 1042-S, 1098-T.  Caltech and JPL Human Resources will mail hard copy or release electronic tax documents by late February 2018. 

Electronic W-2s are available under the “Self Service” section on access.caltech.  You can opt-in to receive an Electronic W-2 for future years.  Please contact Payroll if you cannot print your Electronic W-2 from access.caltech. 

If you do not receive any tax documents that state your Caltech/JPL income for 2017, email Sharon Madison after February 23, 2017, to request a duplicate of your W-2 or other tax documents. Be sure to include your Caltech ID Number.  Do not send your entire SSN via email.  JPL scholars should contact JPL Human Resources.

If you did not receive U.S. earned income during 2017 and you are on an F, M, J, or Q visa, you are required to file IRS Form 8843 by April 17, 2018.  You may also need to file a California tax return by Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

The deadline for IRS and FTB tax filings is Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Nonresidents for tax purposes cannot file tax returns electronically.  We recommend that you use a form of delivery and/or tracking confirmation when you submit your federal and state tax returns via mail. 

How Can Caltech and JPL Help Me?

The staff of the International Offices is not trained to assist you with your taxes or to offer any tax advice.  However, we understand that tax filing can be confusing, so we coordinate helpful resources for you, including tax software and a tax workshop.  It is your responsibility to check all applicable tax filing requirements at the federal, state, and local levels that could apply to your situation. 

Practical Advice for Individuals in a Final Year at Caltech

If you have a tax refund due to you, you should request electronic payment of funds rather than a paper check.  This will allow the IRS or FTB to deposit any refund owed to you directly into your bank account.  You will not need to worry about mail forwarding if you change your home address or how to deposit a check made payable in U.S. dollars after you have left the United States.  In order for this to be useful, you will need to keep your U.S. bank account open after you leave Caltech. You can expect a delay of at least six months on any tax refunds owed to you. 

Free Federal Tax Software

The International Offices offers you free access to Sprintax, a web-based program designed for students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who are nonresidents for tax purposes.  Sprintax is currently available and will remain open until December 2018. 

During this period, there are two ways to receive a Sprintax access code:

If your access.caltech account is active, log into access.caltech and search for the Sprintax Tax Prep button in the "Self Service" section.  You need to use access.caltech on campus or with VPN from off campus.  You will be able to access your unique Sprintax code from within access.caltech. 
NOTE:  If you cannot find the Sprintax Tax Prep button in your access.caltech account, do not contact IMSS Help Desk.  Instead, use Survey Monkey to request your FREE individual Sprintax access code.  Once you complete the survey, you will receive a reply email within two business days.

If you do not have an access.caltech account, request your FREE individual Sprintax access code via Survey Monkey.  You must complete the survey to obtain your Sprintax access code.  Once you complete the survey, you will receive a reply email within two business days.

If you need a Sprintax access code between April 16, 2018 and December 31, 2018, do not use Survey Monkey.  Instead, please send an email to

We have a limited number of access codes available. 

We recommend starting your federal tax return as soon as you have all of the necessary documents so that you have enough time to complete it before you attend the free California State Tax Seminar. 

IMPORTANT:  Various resources can be found both online and in the community to assist you with tax filing, if Sprintax cannot assist you.

Sprintax cannot assist:

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Residents for tax purposes.  To determine if you are a resident for both U.S. federal and California tax purposes, please see the resources linked from this page.
  • Individuals with complicated finances, such as investments or real estate.

Free Sprintax Seminar

Sprintax Overview
Monday, March 5 | 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Noyes 153

Come and meet a representative from Sprintax to find out how Sprintax can assist you with preparing both your federal and state nonresident income tax return.

Fee-Based State Tax Software

Caltech will provide free Sprintax access codes for U.S. federal taxes.  Once you have prepared your U.S. federal taxes, you will have the option of preparing your nonresident state tax return with Sprintax for a nominal fee.  Sprintax will utilize the information that you provided for your U.S. federal return to prepare your state nonresident tax return.

California nonresidents have the option of using Sprintax's fee-based nonresident state tax preparation service or attending a free California state tax seminar to prepare their California nonresident tax return.

Free California Nonresident Tax Workshop

California State Tax Overview & Preparation for Nonresidents
Thursday, April 5 | 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM | Noyes 153

Gary Engler, CPA, provides line-by-line instruction on how to complete 2017 California nonresident tax returns.  The California tax return is based on your U.S. federal return.  This seminar is free to the Caltech and JPL international community, but Mr. Engler is a fee-for-service provider.  If you decide to retain him to assist with your taxes, you will need to discuss his fees with him directly.  To get the most value out of this seminar, have the following with you:

Caltech Contacts for Tax Treaty and Withholding Assistance

Please note that Caltech staff are not trained or qualified to provide any advice regarding tax filing or tax treaty benefits. If you require specific information about your Caltech paycheck with regards to tax treaties and tax withholdings, please contact the HR Payroll Hotline x8668.

2018 Tax Filing Deadline

April 17, 2018

Tax Resources

Federal Income Tax Brochure
U.S. Internal Revenue Service

California Franchise Tax Board
Tax Treaties
California Guidelines for Determining Resident Status 2017
Glossary of Tax Terms