International students may feel like a fish out of water when it comes to filing taxes, but there are plenty of sites and services out there that are designed to make the process easier. International student tax refunds are possible, you just need to know what to look for when filing and what services to use to help you out.
International student tax refund tip #1: Don't try to use the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning credits
International students cannot claim either of these tax credits because they are not residents of the U.S. Only students who are residents may claim them, so it is pointless to try.
International student tax refund tip #2: File your taxes on time
As the University of Texas states, it is important to file your taxes on time, even if you are an international student. if you expect to receive an international student tax refund, your paperwork must filed at the correct time. For Form 1040NR-EZ or Form 1040NR, the deadline to file is April 15. For Form 8843 only, the deadline to file is June 15.
International student tax refund tip #3: Leave a forwarding address if you leave the country before filing
If you are scheduled to leave the country before you can file your taxes, be sure that the payroll office at your school, job, et al. has a forwarding address so that all applicable forms may be mailed to you. If you fail to file taxes you will be penalized and may even face immigration consequences.
International student tax refund tip #4: See if your country has a tax treaty with the U.S.
As International Student Taxes says, there are a number of countries that have income tax treaties with the U.S. Specifically, students fall under sections of treaties that have to do with "compensation during training or while gaining experience" and "scholarship and fellowship grants." Since your payroll office may not be aware of these, seek them out on your own so that you can receive any international student tax refunds that you may be eligible for. You can check out a list of countries and their tax treaties here.