I visited the US on a J-1 Visa as an intern for 7 weeks. My employer wasn’t withholding any income for taxes, so I paid estimated tax once I received my final paycheck with a plan for my employer to issue a W2 as normal (albeit with no withheld income). Income was not withheld as he was not aware that changes in tax law meant that non-resident aliens no longer had a personal exemption.

However, I just got issued a 1099-MISC rather than a W2 - I fear this won’t be sufficient for the IRS. What do I do?

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    The 1099-MISC is what independent contractors receive at end of year. I don't know for a fact, but that 1099 seems perfectly sufficient to me.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 31, 2020 at 22:58
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    Does the employer believe you were an employee or a contractor? An employee would get a W2, a contractor would get a 1099. A contractor would be responsible for both the employer and employee portions of the social security tax (also called the self-employment tax) which would be a meaningful difference in the amount of tax you owe. Jun 12, 2020 at 1:33
  • @JustinCave+ SE tax is SS and Medicare, as is FICA for employment. J-1 (also F-1 OPT etc) NONRESIDENT ALIENS who are allowed to be employed are EXEMPT from FICA, but generally are not allowed to be paid as self-employed at all. See irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/… (which actually includes nonstudents!) and irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/… Jun 12, 2020 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


Note: this is not tax advice. I am not a lawyer or an accountant. See one to get the real answer.

However, based on my experience:

In reality, the IRS doesn’t care what form you have. No form is ok, provided you self-report your income and taxes paid correctly. As your employer didn’t deduct taxes for you, they reported on the 1099-MISC rather than a W-2.

I worked for an international company with minimal US presence. They always issued a 1099-MISC. Towards the end of the company, they decided to forgo the accountant fees and didn’t issue me with the 1099-MISC. The IRS was OK with me self-reporting.

  • Yes, essentially the W-2 and 1099 are just for cross-checking what you report, and to make it easier for you to report.
    – RonJohn
    Feb 1, 2020 at 2:33
  • @RonJohn the international company with minimal US presence must not have been concerned about their US taxes, otherwise they would have submitted a 1099-misc. Feb 1, 2020 at 13:02

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