International students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and staff who were in the United States anytime during a year may be required to file an 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 a calendar year, you must obtain one or more of the following forms in order to file your taxes for that year: W-2, 1099, 1042-S, 1098-T. Caltech and JPL Human Resources will mail hard copy or release electronic tax documents by late February the following year. For example: 2020 tax documents are available by February 2021.
Electronic W-2s are available under the "Self Service" section on access.caltech. You can opt-in to receive an Electronic W-2 for current and prior 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 income for a prior year in which you were in the United States, email Sierra Smith after February, 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 a calendar year and you are on an F, M, J, or Q visa, you are still required to file IRS Form 8843. You may also need to file a California tax return.
Typically, the deadline for IRS and FTB tax filings is April 15.
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.
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. If you require specific information about your Caltech paycheck with regards to tax treaties and tax withholdings, please contact the Payroll Hotline 626.395.8668 or via email.
Brief Outline of Tax Filing Obligation
Sprintax YouTube Channel
Federal Income Tax Guide 2020
IRS International Student and Scholar Information
California Franchise Tax Board
California Guidelines for Determining Resident Status 2020
Glossary of Tax Terms
Practical Advice for Individuals in a Final Year at Caltech
Tax Refund. 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.
Address Update. Electronic W-2s are only available for current employees. Please make sure that you update your forwarding address on access.caltech before you leave Caltech. If you need to update your address after you have left, please email Human Resources with your new address prior to December so that your W-2 document can be mailed to the correct address.