Tax Information for International Students

various international flags

Financial aid received by international students is subject to US income tax. Students in both F-1 and J-1 status who are recipients of doctoral fellowships are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number. Refer to the ISSO’s  Social Security Number Application for information on how to apply.  

For international students, the law requires that 14 percent of the amount of fellowship stipends that exceeds the cost of tuition, books, fees, and related classroom expenses be withheld. Any portion of the stipend that students receive as semi-monthly payroll is deemed by the Internal Revenue Service as payment for services rendered (i.e., for teaching and research assistance). Consequently, the university’s payroll office will withhold income taxes from these payments. This withholding is also subject to the conditions of applicable tax treaties between the United States and foreign countries.

To claim exemption from all or part of the tax based on a tax treaty:

  • International students who receive only stipend (that is, no semi-monthly payroll payments) and who claim exemption from all or part of the tax based on a tax treaty must complete IRS form W-8BEN and forward it to the University Payroll Office.
  • International students who are appointed as a student officer (that is, students receiving some or all of their stipends as semi-monthly payroll) must complete IRS Form 8233 and forward it to the University Payroll Office.

Please note that taxes will be withheld on the basis of information existing in Student Services. It is important that you make sure that the Student Information System holds your most current data and correct visa status. If this information is incorrect, you will experience significant delays in receiving your financial aid and possible excessive withholding.

The ISSO provides valuable tax information on its website. They provide access to Sprintax, a nonresident tax preparation system, to assist international students in filing a nonresident tax return. There is no fee for federal tax forms when students log in from the ISSO website with their UNI and password. Sprintax provides several webinars during the “tax season” February through  April, in advance of the tax deadline of April 15th.

International students applying for tax treaty exemption may make inquiries and complete payroll processes at Columbia University’s Human Resources Processing Center.

Location: Studebaker Building, 615 West 131st Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10032.