How Much Tax is Deducted from Salary in USA for International Students?

Albert Wilson

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Navigating the complex world of taxes can be daunting, especially if you’re an international student in the USA. Let’s dive into what you need to know about how much tax is deducted from your salary.

Tax Obligations for International Students

Federal Taxes

As an international student, you’re considered a nonresident alien for tax purposes, which means you’ll file taxes differently than U.S. citizens or residents. Federal taxes are a significant part of your tax obligations and typically range from 10% to 37%, depending on your income level. However, as a student, your tax rate might be on the lower end due to lower income.

State Taxes

State taxes vary widely depending on where you live and work. Some states, like Texas and Florida, have no state income tax, while others, like California and New York, have higher rates. It’s crucial to understand the tax laws of the state you’re in to avoid surprises.

Types of Income Subject to Taxation

Employment Income

If you’re working on-campus or have an off-campus job with proper authorization, your earnings are subject to federal and state income taxes. Make sure you complete your Form W-4 accurately to ensure the right amount is withheld from your paycheck.

Scholarship and Fellowship Grants

Scholarships used for tuition and related expenses are generally not taxable. However, if part of your scholarship is used for room and board or other non-qualifying expenses, that portion is taxable.

Tax Forms and Documentation

Form W-4

When you start a job, you’ll fill out Form W-4 to determine how much federal income tax should be withheld from your paycheck. Be careful with this form, as incorrect information can lead to underpayment or overpayment of taxes.

Form 1040-NR

As a nonresident alien, you’ll use Form 1040-NR to file your annual federal income tax return. This form is designed specifically for nonresidents and takes into account any tax treaty benefits you might be eligible for.

Form 8843

Even if you didn’t earn any income, you still need to file Form 8843 to confirm your nonresident status. This form is simple but crucial for maintaining your compliance with U.S. tax laws.

Filing Your Taxes

Deadlines and Important Dates

The tax year in the U.S. runs from January 1 to December 31. You need to file your tax return by April 15 of the following year. Mark this date on your calendar and start preparing your documents early to avoid last-minute stress.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake is not understanding your residency status, which can lead to incorrect filings. Another is failing to report all taxable income, including stipends or grants that are subject to tax.

Tax Treaties and Their Impact

Understanding Tax Treaties

The U.S. has tax treaties with several countries that can reduce or eliminate your tax liability on certain types of income. These treaties are complex, but they can significantly impact how much tax you pay.

How to Claim Tax Treaty Benefits

To claim benefits under a tax treaty, you’ll need to file additional forms, such as Form 8233, with your tax return. Make sure you understand the specific provisions of the treaty between your home country and the U.S.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes

Exemptions for International Students

As an international students on an F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1 visa, you are generally exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes for a limited time, provided you are considered a nonresident alien for tax purposes.

What to Do If You’re Incorrectly Taxed

If your employer incorrectly withholds Social Security or Medicare taxes, you can claim a refund by filing Form 843 and attaching the necessary documentation.

Tips for Managing Your Taxes

Keeping Records

Keep detailed records of all income received and taxes paid. This includes pay stubs, tax forms, and receipts for any deductible expenses. Good record-keeping can make the filing process smoother and help if you ever get audited.

Seeking Professional Help

Navigating the U.S. tax system can be tricky, and getting professional help can be a wise investment.

Tax Advisors

Consider consulting a tax advisor who specializes in international students tax issues. They can provide tailored advice and ensure you’re maximizing any available deductions or credits.

University Resources

Many universities offer resources such as workshops, one-on-one counseling, and software to help international students with tax preparation. Take advantage of these services to make the process less overwhelming.


Understanding how much tax is deducted from your salary as an international students in the USA is essential for managing your finances and staying compliant with U.S. tax laws. By knowing the types of income subject to taxation, familiarizing yourself with the necessary forms, and seeking professional help when needed, you can navigate the tax system more effectively and avoid common pitfalls.


1. Do international students have to pay taxes in the USA?

Yes, international students must pay federal and possibly state taxes on their income.

2. What is the deadline for filing taxes in the USA?

The deadline for filing taxes is April 15 each year.

3. Are scholarships taxable for international students?

Scholarships used for tuition and related expenses are generally not taxable, but those used for non-qualifying expenses like room and board are taxable.

4. Can international students claim tax treaty benefits?

Yes, if there is a tax treaty between your home country and the USA, you may be able to claim certain benefits to reduce your tax liability.

5. How can I get help with filing my taxes?

You can seek help from tax advisors, university resources, or use tax preparation software designed for international students.

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