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I'm an undergrad international student living in Minnesota. It seems that I satisfied every eligibility requirements (such as 183 days rule) for the refund other than being non-dependent, as this webpage shows. I'm relying on my parent's income for 100%, and my parents are living in another country.

I'm curious why it matters whether I'm a dependent or not. For example, if I earn more than 50% of cost of living by working at school's dining or getting stipend as a grad student, I'd be a non-dependent and eligible for the refund. Although my parents are not paying their tax to the U.S. directly (e.g. through income tax), I can get refund in this case.

So, why is being non-dependent important? Is it because of the income tax I'd have to pay if I had some income?

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    Money received by a dependent for support of living expenses is not taxable income to the recipient. So, the dependent cannot get a refund of property taxes. In many states (not necessarily in Minnesota), property tax credits are available only up to the income tax liability: the "refund" can reduce income tax due to 0 but not below 0. – Dilip Sarwate Mar 17 '16 at 13:50

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