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: 2023 tax documents are available by February 2024.
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 Caltech 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 Caltech Payroll 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.
In 2024, the federal and California tax filing due date is Monday, April 15, 2024.
Most nonresidents for tax purposes can file Federal tax returns electronically.
If you use Sprintax to prepare your Federal tax return, Sprintax will instruct you on whether you are able to submit your return electronically. If you use Sprintax to prepare your state tax return, you will need to print and mail the return.
If you submit paper returns, 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. 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 Caltech Payroll. Here are non-Caltech resources for you to consult:
Sprintax YouTube Channel
Federal Income Tax Guide 2023
IRS International Student and Scholar Information
California Franchise Tax Board
Glossary of Tax Terms
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.
Your physical presence "clock" starts ticking the day you arrive in the United States. This is important if you are a tax resident of a country with a tax treaty with the United States. The Internal Revenue Service uses your date of arrival, rather than the start date of your employment to calculate your treaty eligibility. If you are eligible, a tax treaty between your tax residence country and the United States may provide an exemption from paying U.S. federal taxes and payroll taxes for a limited amount of time. You can review Tax Treaties on the IRS website to get a sense of whether you will be eligible for a treaty. Note that tax treaty eligibility will vary based on your nonimmigrant classification. Tax treaties do not exempt individuals from state tax obligations.
Certain countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands, among others, limit tax treaty eligibility to stays in the United States that are less than two years from the date of arrival.
Certain treaties obligate individuals who have benefited from the treaty who choose to stay for two or more years to repay the taxes. You may choose to waive treaty benefits and pay federal taxes if you are from one of those countries and you know that you will be in the United States for two or more years.
Postdocs with "Renewable Term Appointments" may receive immigration documents for longer than their intended stay in the United States. These longer documents may limit your ability to claim tax treaty benefits. Please let your international office advisor know if you wish to receive shorter immigration documents in order to be eligible for tax treaty benefits.
If you pay taxes in the United States and have at least one child in daycare, preschool, private school, or camp, you should consider establishing a Dependent Care Spending Account. The DCSA allows you to set money aside from your paycheck to pay for eligible dependent care expenses using tax-free dollars.