I get paid as a research assistant by helping my guide write papers and for assisting them in classes and correcting homework.

Never got around to thinking about tax but recently, when I noticed that thousands of dollars had been deducted from my paycheck under various tax headings, over the years, like:

  • california disability insurance
  • california income tax
  • federal income tax
  • some other heading names that I could not decode

Not at all worried about paying these taxes, and they get deducted from my paychecks directly anywayss, but I was thinking if I might be eligible for some refunds?

I am not an full time employee of my university and not eligible for any health or disability insurance through work. Nor can I claim any unemployment benefits because of my alien status.

Being a non US Citizen and non-resident alien in the U.S., on a student Visa, working part-time and paid by the hour, I would like to know if I should be paying all of these taxes anyways?

How do I find out if I am eligible for any refunds on these taxes, if at all?

Since I am from India, there might be some specific clauses that allow me to claim, for example, my medical expenses not covered by my personal health insurance policy?

1 Answer 1


Have you filled tax forms for the years you've been employed? You're supposed to file a tax form with the IRS (The US Federal government) and the California tax board (California government). If you're entitled to refunds - these are the entities that will pay you. The filing is obligatory, and your immigration status doesn't change it. It only changes which forms you should be filing.

If you're on F1 or J1 you would probably be filing NR forms (non-resident) for the IRS (for example - 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ). For California you might be considered a non-resident or resident depending on the time you spent in the state, and has nothing to do with your immigration status. NR cannot file itemized, so you probably cannot claim health expenses, but you need to verify it with a tax specialist.

Depending on your country of citizenship, there might be a tax treaty under which you would have to pay less taxes, or pay no taxes at all. It is your responsibility to declare your eligibility and request refunds.

Usually, universities have tax advisers for international students because students aren't really aware of the US tax rules, and treaties their countries might have with the US. Get to the international students' center at your school and ask to meet that adviser.

Here's a link for you.

  • Thanks for the link to my campus' info page! I will schedule an appointment with Elena. Sep 17, 2011 at 21:27
  • Calculating tax is a horrible and complicated process! Is there any good (easy to use) software that can calculate my taxes and possible refunds? Sep 20, 2011 at 2:52
  • 1
    @f1Student - you should use CINTAX. Most "regular" retail tax software doesn't include NR forms.
    – littleadv
    Sep 20, 2011 at 3:39
  • Correct as usual - "regular" retail tax software doesn't include NR forms - turbotax forced me to choose residency in one state. Not helpful as I am an alien with no residency. But, CINTAX is no longer available for me to try out. Any similar software? Sep 20, 2011 at 3:46

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