Employment and Taxes
The rules governing US employment and taxation are complex and can be daunting. The OISS has extensive resources and materials to help the international community at UNH make sense of all the regulations. If you do not find the answers to your questions on these pages, please contact the OISS.
UNH Forms and Information
- Getting Paid: What You Must Do to Receive Compensation from UNH
- UNH Identification Cards
- Resources, List of Publications Links and List of Form Links
- General Tax Information for International Students and Scholars
- Form W-4 - employee withholding allowance certificate
- Form W-4 Instructions
- Completing Form W-4, Employee Withholding Certificate
- Form 8233 - tax treaty exemption
- Form 8233 Instructions
- Tax Treaties between the U.S. and Foreign Governments
- Countries with Tax Treaties that Apply to Scholars
- Countries with Tax Treaties that Apply to Students
Social Security Administration Information
- Form W-7 - application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Social Security Number Application
- Additional Instructions for the Social Security Number Application
To receive your first paycheck, you must provide the University with a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) and complete some official forms. These include:
- Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate and
- Form I-9, Employee Eligibility Verification.
Applying for a Social Security Number (SSN)
In order to be employed and compensated in the U.S., you must obtain a taxpayer identification number from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The application for the social security number must be made in person at the Social Security office in Portsmouth, NH (or nearest to your place of residence). To locate the social security office nearest you, visit https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp. UNH students, staff and faculty beginning study or employment in the Fall semester will be able to apply for a social security number during international student orientation. Contact an OISS staff member for more information.
The application for the social security number (Form SS-5) is available in at the Office of International Students, or in PDF format on http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.html.
Take the completed Social Security Application form, plus the following documents with you:
- Your valid passport
- Your Form I-94, record of arrival and departure
- Your original I-20, DS-2019, or I-797
- A letter from the OISS or your department verifying your eligibility for a social security number.
It may take 2 weeks or more for your Social Security card to arrive in the mail. Please be aware that UNH cannot process your paycheck until you have been issued your Social Security number. However, if you present proof of your application, you may request an advance on your salary from the university Payroll Office. This request must be made by your department. Any money advanced to you will be deducted from your first official paycheck.
Completing the Social Security Application Form
Follow the instructions on the form with the following exceptions:
- Mailing Address: Please use c/o Office of International Students and Scholars, UNH, Thompson Hall, 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824-3597 on your application. You will be notified when your card has arrived at our office.
- Citizenship: Check legal alien allowed to work.
Directions to the Social Security Office in Portsmouth
By bus from Durham: Take the Wildcat Transit Bus from campus (schedules are available at the MUB information desk) to Market Square in Portsmouth. When the Wildcat Bus drops you off in Market Square, go towards the Federal Building located one block down (to your left when you are facing the church on the Square.) The Federal building is a large brick building with the name displayed on the front and is on the corner of Penhallow and Daniel Streets (the Federal Building’s address is 80 Daniel Street). It houses the Social Security Office, the Post Office and the Internal Revenue Service Office. If you cannot find it, ask for directions to the Post Office which is a familiar landmark.
By car: Follow Route 108 North through Durham to the intersection of Route 4 East. Follow Route 4 East to the exit for Newington/Downtown Portsmouth. Exit Route 4 and continue past the Fox Run Mall for approximately 2-3 miles. Continue on this road into Downtown Portsmouth. Park and walk to Market Square. Daniel Street will be on your left as you face the Church on the Square.
Caution: Keep your social security card in a safe place. Theft of SSN numbers is not uncommon and may allow the thief to use your identity to establish credit, sign contracts, or purchase items for which you could be liable.
Miscellaneous Information about Social Security Numbers
As soon as you receive your social security number, it is your responsibility to give this number to all appropriate University Offices. You should notify the Registrar and the Payroll office.
You may already have received a UNH Identification number. This is NOT your social security number, but only an internal ID number. Notify the offices above to avoid delays in processing paperwork for UNH employment.
IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN)
Foreign nationals not authorized to work in the United States because of the type of visa they hold, are not eligible for Social Security Numbers.
However, these individuals are eligible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To apply for an ITIN, complete IRS Form W-7 (available from the OISS or download it from http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf). Take Form W-7 to the IRS Office in Portsmouth along with your passport and I-94 card.
UNH Student, Faculty and Staff Identification (ID) Cards
All students officially enrolled at UNH, and all benefits-eligible Faculty and Staff will be issued a photo ID card. This card is obtained from the UNH ID Office. You will need to show certification of employment at UNH, or your student ID number in order to obtain this card.
Temporary Staff ID Cards
Staff and faculty employed by UNH in non-benefits eligible positions, or those who are at UNH with personal funding, or funding from another source, are not eligible for photo ID cards. However, you will be able to obtain a temporary staff ID card that will permit you to use the library and certain University facilities.
To obtain a temporary staff ID card, your department must call the Registrar’s Office for a UNH ID number. After a number has been issued, your department must then send a memo to Human Resources giving your name, position, and the purpose and length of your stay at UNH.
In many countries, employers and/or governments will automatically deduct the proper amount of tax from an individual’s income. However, in the U.S., the system places responsibility for proper tax payment on the individual. The information on Form W-4 is used to calculate and withhold the proper amount of tax from your wages, scholarship, assistantship, or grant.
The employee is required to complete Form W-4 and submit this form to Human Resources. The hiring department may prefer to collect this completed Form W-4 with the necessary supporting documents and submit it to Human Resources on your behalf.
Instructions on Form W-4 are intended only for US citizens, "green card" holders, and permanent residents for tax purposes. Therefore, with a few exceptions, the instructions printed on the worksheet of Form W-4 should not be followed by individuals who are not considered to be residents for US income tax purposes.
Please note: Students who have been in the US in F-1 or J-1 visa status for 5 or more years, and visiting professors or researchers who have been in J-1 status for 2 years or more are likely to be considered a resident for tax purposes and the following instructions may not apply. This is true also for those individuals currently in H-1B visa status. If you fall into one of these categories, please consult the information in this booklet (How to Determine Residency for Tax Purposes) about determining whether you are a resident or non-resident for tax purposes BEFORE you complete Form W-4.
Exceptions to Withholding Policy for Individuals from Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea and India
As a result of agreements between their home countries and the U.S. , citizens of Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea and India may claim more than one withholding allowance on Form W-4.
Canada and Mexico: Married residents of Canada and Mexico may claim an allowance for their spouse if the spouse is not the dependent of another U.S. taxpayer, and if he/she had no taxable income for U.S. purposes. Mexican and Canadians may also claim deductions for their dependents.
Japan and Korea: Nationals of Japan and Korea may also take allowances for their spouse and dependent children who lived with them in the U.S. at any time during the tax year. Full dependent allowances are permitted if:
- the spouse and/or children do not have income from U.S. sources and are not claimed as dependents on someone else’s U.S. tax return, and
- the nonresident alien from Japan or Korea earned only U.S. source income connected with trade or business. If you are a citizen of Japan or Korea and you earned income from foreign sources, consult IRS publication 519 for more information.
India: Students from India may take an additional allowance for his/her spouse if the spouse has no gross income, is not claimed as a dependent by another U.S. taxpayer, and the couple does not file a joint tax return. An allowance for a child who lives with the student and who is a resident of the U.S. , Canada , or Mexico can also be claimed as an exemption. Indian students are entitled to the standard deduction on federal income tax returns.
Citizens of countries whose tax treaties permit them to file Form W-4 as a resident (rather than a nonresident) alien may be required to file an additional form when submitting a federal income tax return. Please visit the IRS website (www.irs.gov) for more information.
A tax treaty is an agreement between two governments under which each agrees to limit or modify its domestic tax laws in an attempt to avoid double taxation of income. The United States currently has tax treaties in effect with over 50 countries, but not every country has a tax treaty with the United States. In addition, not all tax treaties are relevant to international students and scholars.
All tax treaties contain provisions called "articles." Many treaties include articles designed to foster educational and cultural exchanges between the two treaty countries. These articles may provide some type of an exemption from U.S. tax on income received by students and scholars. However, Tax Treaties are not all equal and the student/scholar should review the treaty with his/her own country to determine if there are any potential benefits. Generally, tax treaty benefits fall into one of a few general categories:
- gifts from abroad for purposes of maintenance or study
- grants, allowances and awards from government or tax exempt organizations
- income earned from the provision of personal services
- income earned from teaching or research performed at an academic institution.
There are usually restrictions about who may qualify to use the benefits and the amount of money which is exempt from taxation. Most articles require that the individual be a resident of the treaty country immediately prior to coming to the U.S. To view the entire text of the treaty between your country and the US, browse http://www.windstar.com/public/treaties.html to or visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov.
Claiming Tax Treaty Benefits
An individual from a tax treaty country must complete and file Form 8233 in order to qualify for any benefit. Form 8233 must be filed annually at the beginning of each calendar year. IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties, provides an excellent summary of the tax treaties in effect in a given year. It is published annually and should be consulted each year, as new treaties are constantly being negotiated and existing ones renegotiated. IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, is also an excellent resource as it provides detailed information on the filing of US Income Taxes for nonresidents.
What follows is a very general overview of U.S. tax law as it pertains to international students and scholars. Detailed information is available from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and in various IRS publications such as:
- Publication 519, Tax Guide for Aliens;
- Publication 901 U.S. Tax Treaties
If you need additional assistance with tax questions, please call IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit their website at http://www.irs.gov. For complex tax questions, it is advisable to consult a tax attorney, a certified public accountant, or other reputable tax advisor who is familiar with non-resident taxation. Although the OISS staff may be able to answer some of your most basic questions, we are not tax experts or consultants and we are not permitted to give tax advice.
It is important for you to understand that you are responsible for assessing and meeting your tax obligations while you are in the United States. If for any reason, your tax status changes, you must contact Human Resources to update your tax withholding information.
Paying US Taxes
There are several different types of taxes which you may be subject to while you are in the United States. Depending upon what State you live in, and your individual circumstances, you will have to pay some or all of the following:
- Federal (U.S.) income tax;
- Federal Social Security Tax (also called FICA);
- State and local taxes on income
- City and county taxes on personal property;
- City, county and state taxes on purchase of consumer goods;
- Professional and business taxes.
Federal Income Tax
Everyone who earns income from work or services, or who receives income from investments, interest or similar sources, must pay federal income taxes. If you are employed, your employer will withhold part of your income each time you are paid and submit that amount to the federal government on your behalf. The only exception to this is if your income is exempt from withholding based on a tax treaty and you have completed Form 8233.
The amount of money which is withheld for tax purposes depends on:
- your income level
- the number of exemptions you are able to claim for your spouse and children
- whether you are taxed as a resident or nonresident.
How to Determine Residency for Tax Purposes
A resident for tax purposes is a person who is a U.S. citizen or a foreign national who meets either the "green card" or "substantial presence" test as described in IRS Publication 519, Tax Guide for Aliens. In general:
- F and J student visa holders are considered residents after their first five calendar years in the U.S.
- J researchers and professors are considered residents after their first two calendar years in the U.S.
- H-1, TN, and O-1 visa holders are considered residents once they meet the "substantial presence" test.
Payment of Social Security Tax Also Known as FICA
In addition to federal income tax, everyone (with the exception of some individuals in F-1 or J-1 visa status) who earns income in the U.S. is also required to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on that income. The current rate is 15% of the total income earned. Your employer pays one half of this tax, and you are responsible for the other half. This tax is also deducted from your paycheck.
F-1 and J-1 students and J-1 scholars are exempt from Social Security taxes for the period of time that they are nonresidents for tax purposes, if their employment is directly related to their purpose for being in the U.S. Generally, this means authorized employment, including Practical and Academic Training. If at any point during your time in the U.S. you begin to file income tax as a resident for tax purposes, you will be subject to social security taxes.
Income earned by a J-2 dependent is subject to FICA tax as the J-2's purpose for being in the US is solely to be with the J-1. Therefore, the J-2 dependent's primary purpose is not considered to be educational or cultural exchange, even if the work they do has educational or cultural components. Individuals in H-1 status are also subject to FICA tax.
Foreign nationals in J-2 or H-1 visa status often protest the payment of FICA taxes arguing that they will return to their home countries and will never benefit from payment of this tax when they retire. However, the US Government has stated that FICA taxes must be withheld for all income earned by persons in J-2 or H-1 visa status.
The United States has social security agreements with certain countries including: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Under some of these agreements, individuals not ordinarily exempt from US social security taxes may file for an exemption. For information, contact the local Social Security Administration office or write to: U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of International Policy, and P.O. Box 17741, Baltimore, Maryland 21235.
The Federal Income Tax Return
All individuals filing federal taxes as nonresidents use IRS Form NR1040 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040nr.pdf) or NR1040EZ (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040nre.pdf). These forms are used to compute your total taxable income for the preceding calendar year, and the amount of taxes (if any) you owe to the federal Government. The form also allows you to compare the amount of tax you owe from the amount already withheld by your employer. You are responsible to pay the difference between what you owe and what you already paid. If you paid more tax than you owe, the form permits you to request a refund from the federal government. If you are owed money from the government, they will send you a check (usually within 6 to 8 weeks after they receive your income tax return).
All individuals who have US source income must file their income by April 15th each year. Students on F-1, J-1 or M-1 visas who have not earned any money in the U.S. for the preceding year must file forms by June 15th. There are penalties for not filing your return by the deadline dates. Every March, the OISS sponsors a workshop for UNH international students and scholars on preparing your tax return. Make sure you are subscribed to the OISS e-mail distribution list. Check your e-mail for the date and location of the tax workshop and plan to attend!
What to File: Important IRS Forms
- 8843: "Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition." This one-page document must be completed and returned with the 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ. It verifies nonresident alien tax status.
- 1040NR: "U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return." The longer version of the return completed by many nonresidents. This form is distinct from the 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ filed by residents for tax purposes. It is not interchangeable with those forms. The IRS publishes an instruction booklet to accompany the form; OR
- 1040NR-EZ: "U.S. Income Tax Return for the Certain Nonresident Aliens with No Dependents." A simplified version of the 1040NR. Most F-1, J-1, and M-1 students who are nonresidents may file the 1040NR-EZ. The IRS publishes an instruction booklet for this form.
- W-2: "Wage and Tax Statement". A form issued annually by employers (normally during the month of January). Copies of the W-2 must be filed with federal, state, and local tax returns.
When to File: Important IRS Dates
April 15: The last day on which residents and nonresidents who have earned wages from U.S. sources may file their U.S. federal income-tax returns. June 15: The last day on which nonresidents and their dependents that have no wage income from U.S. sources may file their 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR returns
Leila Paje-Manalo, Director of OISS
Phone: (603) 862-3491
John Deziel, International Scholar and Student Advisor
Phone: (603) 862-0086
USNH Tax Inquiries
UNH ID Cards
Students: Holloway Commons
Phone: (603) 862-2273
Scholars: Human Resources
Phone: (603) 862-0500
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
80 Daniel Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Phone: IRS General Info: (800) 829-1040
Forms & Publications (800) 829-3676
Non-Resident Info (202) 874-1460
IRS Foreign Payments Division
960 L’Enfant Plaza South, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: (202) 874-1800
Fax: (202) 874-1883
Social Security Administration
80 Daniel Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Phone: (603) 433-0716
General Information (800) 772-1213
List of Form Links
SSA Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
IRS Form W-7, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
IRS Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
INS Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
IRS Form 8233, Exemption From Withholding on Compensation.
IRS Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Nonresident Aliens
IRS Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
- General Info
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