As in most countries, the tax laws in the United States are very complicated. Tax treaty benefits, Social Security taxes, and filing requirements depend on your visa status, the purpose of your visit, the number of days you will be in the United States, and the history of prior visits.
Taxation of Exchange Visitors
It is hard to generalize about specific tax situations. Under normal circumstances, visitors in J-1 status do not pay Social Security or Medicare taxes until they have been in the United States for two calendar years. However, U.S. source income is normally subject to federal income tax withholding at a 10-14% rate, or at a 30% rate for one-time payments for independent contractor services. If your country has a Tax Treaty with the United States, a portion of your income is generally exempt from tax withholding for a certain period of time specified by the treaty.
Tax Filing Responsibilities & Assistance
If you are in the United States for even a day in J-1/J-2 Status, you will have tax filing responsibilities during tax filing season (February-April 15th). If you did not have any U.S. source income, you are still required to file Form 8843 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Your J-2 dependents must also file Form 8843. If you have U.S. source income, you may also be required to file a tax return. Although ISSS cannot assist you with preparing your taxes during normal office hours, volunteer tax assistance is available by appointment during tax filing season. J-1 Exchange Visitors at UT are also eligible to use GLACIER tax preparation software that is available through ISSS.
More information about filing taxes in the U.S. can be found on the tax page of our website.
Social Security Numbers
A social security number (SSN) is required in order to be paid in the United States. Detailed instructions on the SSN application procedure are available from ISSS. You must wait 10 days after your arrival to the United States and be validated in the SEVIS system in order to apply for an SSN, so please plan accordingly. Your J-1 status will be validated in the SEVIS system within 3-4 days of your attendance at the mandatory J-1 Scholar Orientation.