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ISSS-BU News 23 January 2012 ISSS-BU News


An electronic news service for international students and scholars, owned by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services atBinghamtonUniversity, State University of New York

Visit ISSS on the Web!   http://isss.binghamton.edu

Editor’s Note: Today begins the celebration of the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival in many Asian countries. This is the Year of the Dragon. Best wishes at the New Year to all members of the BU campus community who are celebrating Spring Festival!

Many students are inquiring about the availability of Glacier Tax Prep (formerly known as CINTAX). The vendor has not yet made the product available. The ISSS expects to receive it by early February. An email message will be sent to all students once it is “live.”

CONTENTS:

1. ISSS Staff Availability on January 24, January 25 and January 27
2. No Employment or Health Insurance Walk-In Appointments for January 24
3. International Student Orientation Program is Now On-Line
4. Celebrate the Re-Opening of the East Gym at Open House Sat. January 28 and Sun. January 29
5. OCCT ITC Shuttle and Regular Bus Service for Spring 2012
6. Spring 2012 International Spouses Program (ISP) English as a Second Language Classes
7. Sales Tax Refunds For Purchases In The United States
8. Income Tax Information: W-2 Form Reminder
9. Income Tax Information: Wait! Don’t File Your Tax Forms Too Soon!

1. ISSS Staff Availability on January 24, January 25th and January 27th

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services will be open for regular office hours during the week of January 23. However, most staff will be away from the office during the morning of January 24, as well as Wednesday and Friday, January 25 and 27, participating in various University and New Student Orientation activities.

This means that obtaining appointments, document processing and responses to e-mails may take somewhat longer than usual while staff takes care of the newest class of international students. ISSS thanks you for your patience and understanding!

2. No Employment or Health Insurance Walk-In Appointments in the ISSS for January 24

There will be no walk-in hours for health insurance or employment questions on Tuesday, January 24, due to a University-wide event and new student arrivals. Health Insurance walk-in hours will resume on Tuesday, January 31 from 10:15am to Noon. Employment Walk-In Hours will resume on Tuesday, January 31, from 1:30-3:15pm. Students should check in at the ISSS front desk in Room G-1 for walk-in appointments. Students who need to meet with a member of the ISSS staff that week can request an individual appointment. Please note that staff may be unavailable for appointments during portions of New Student Orientation.

3. International Student Orientation Program is Now On-Line

International Student Orientation is this week! The program runs from Wednesday, January 25 through Friday, January 27. Check in is Wednesday, January 25 from 9:00am to Noon (note the time extension until noon) in the Tillman Lobby of the Old University Union, in front of the Mandela Room.

The Spring 2012 International Student Orientation Program is now on-line, and can be viewed at these links:

Undergraduate Students
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/orientation/spring/undergraduate/ugprogram2012.html

Undergraduate Exchange Students
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/orientation/spring/undergraduate/ugexchangestud2012.html

Graduate Students
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/orientation/spring/graduate/gradprogram2012.html

Graduate Exchange Students
http://www2.binghamton.edu/isss/orientation/spring/graduate/gradexchangestud2012.html

There is no cost to attend International Student Orientation, other than meals, which are at the option of new students. There is one meal that is provided to all orientation registrants without cost. That is the welcome dinner on Wednesday evening, January 25, 2012 at 5:30pm in University Union Old Union Hall. A new student’s orientation name badge is all that is needed to attend the welcome dinner.

Please note that all new students; undergraduate, graduate, exchange and Dual Diploma Students from Turkey, will see a one-time mandatory New Student Fee on their student bill once they register for classes. The New Student Fee covers the cost of new student programming throughout the year, including many of the activities associated with Orientation.

4. Celebrate the Re-Opening of the East Gym at Open House Sat. January 28 and Sun. January 29

After being closed for 1.5 years for renovation, the East Gym officially re-opens this coming weekend, January 28 and 29 with a two-day open house. There is a brand new Fit-Space, lockers, rest rooms, and recreational space. Go to this link to see what’s new:

http://www2.binghamton.edu/campus-recreation/renovation/new.html

For more information, contact Campus Recreation Services, 607-777-2113.

5. OCCT ITC Shuttle and Regular Bus Service for Spring 2012

Beginning on Monday, January 23rd, the ITC Shuttle will be updated to a new route. The shuttle will now leave the Mohawk Bus Shelter, follow the Brain until it leaves campus via the Main Entrance. It will then service the ITC buildings then return to main campus via the Main Entrance. The shuttle will then service the West Gym/Events Center area and return to the union. For more information, refer to the route map in the Route Maps page of the OCCT website.

Spring 2012 service will begin on Monday, January 30th. Welcome Back Weekend service will begin on Friday, January 27th and will continue until Sunday, January 29th. Schedules for both services will be posted the week of January 23rd.

ITC Service will continue running on its 20 minute schedule from 8 AM ending with the 5:40 PM shuttle.

For more information and route maps, visit the OCCT home page at: http://www.occtransport.org/index.php

6. Spring 2012 International Spouses Program (ISP) English as a Second Language Classes

These are non-credit bearing classes for spouses of BU international students, faculty and staff. BU Research Scholars are welcome to join as well. These classes are NOT intended for current BU students. The focus is to practice conversation, reading, grammar skills and daily living in the United States. Classes begin on Monday, January 30, 2012, but students are welcomed at any time

Two classes and a Discussion Group are offered this semester at the following times:
Basic Conversational English (Beginner- Pre-Intermediate):
Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:45pm to 4:15pm in Science Library Room 311. Begins Monday, January 30.
Intermediate-Advanced English
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:45pm to 3:15pm in Academic Building B Room 125. Begins Tuesday, January 31.
Discussion Group
Open to all levels of English and native English Speakers

Every Friday from 9:00am to 10:30am in the International Conference Room, Hinman Commons Room 120B. Stop by the ISSS for directions. Begins Friday, February 3.

A $5.00 fee per semester per student is requested towards the copying of materials (no need to purchase a textbook for these classes). The instructor will collect this fee.

Our ESL instructor is Ms. Myriam Stanton-Zenunaj. Myriam has many years experience teaching English overseas and ESL here in the United States. This is her third year as our ISP ESL instructor.

If you have any questions about these ESL classes, please contact the instructor at mstanton@binghamton.edu

7. Sales Tax Refunds For Purchases In The United States

International students sometimes ask if it is possible for them to receive a refund of the sales tax they paid for goods and services in the United States upon their departure. In the United States, sales tax on goods and services is set by each of the fifty states, and state entities (such as cities and counties), not by the U.S. government. Each state and state entity determines what the sales tax will be (always a percent of the purchase price) and what items will and will not be assessed a sales tax.

Therefore, it is not possible for an overseas visitor to obtain a refund of the sales tax for a purchase made in the United States upon their departure. The best "official" explanation comes from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, reprinted below:

"Foreign visitors to the United States frequently confuse the state sales tax with the value-added tax (VAT). The state sales tax is a small tax on purchases or services, calculated at the time of purchase, which individual states assess and which the U.S. federal government neither determines nor receives. The VAT, on the other hand, is a national tax commonly applied in foreign countries that is included in the actual sales price rather than at the time of purchase. The United States does not have a VAT, and the federal government cannot refund state sales taxes.

State taxes are generally not charged to diplomats or employees of some international organizations who have been issued a tax-exemption card. This card must be presented at the time of purchase in order for sales taxes to be waived.

Also, some states do not charge tax on items shipped out of state. Ask about state sales-tax policies in the state where you make your purchases."

If you are making a major purchase, such as a car, and you intend to export the item to another country, contact the State taxation authority of the state where you will be making the purchase to determine their criteria for refunding any sales tax paid.

8. Income Tax Information: W-2 Form Reminder

The Human Resources Office reminds all faculty, staff, and students that 2011 W-2 forms will be mailed very soon. If a duplicate W-2 form issued from 2011 or prior years is needed, a request form must be filled out. The form can be found at

http://www2.binghamton.edu/human-resources/forms/forms-doc-files/2010-Reissue-W-2Request.pdf

Authorization by the Office of the State Comptroller is now required for reissuing W-2 forms from prior years; therefore the requestor should allow 3-5 business days for the duplicate W-2 to be issued. Due to OSC and IRS requirements, the Human Resources Office is unable to fax or e-mail duplicate W-2 forms to faculty, staff or student employees. Questions should be directed to Cheryl Robinson-Boyett at clrobin@binghamton.edu or 607-777-2129.

9. Income Tax Information: WAIT! Don’t File your Tax Forms Too Soon!

Many international students have begun to receive their W-2 forms and other tax forms, and are anxious to file their income tax returns. This is usually because most students want to determine if they are eligible for a tax refund. If so, they want their money as quickly as possible.

But, before you get to work on your income tax returns, WAIT! You’ll avoid mistakes that way. Here’s why.

Most International Students Cannot E-File Their Income Tax Returns
Non-resident income tax returns (forms 8843, 1040NR EZ and 1040NR) cannot be e-filed. They must be printed and mailed through the Postal Service.
Most international students in F-1 or J-1 status are non-residents for tax purposes, if they have been in the United States in F-1 or J-1 status for five years or less (2007 or later).
Glacier Tax Prep (formerly CINTAX), which is the web-based income tax software for non-resident tax filing, is what BU international students who are non-residents for tax purposes should use. It’s free, it’s an excellent product, and based on the information you provide, it populates the required federal income tax forms, prints them so that you can mail them, and determines whether or not you are eligible for a tax refund. Glacier Tax Prep will be available for use soon after February 1.

International Students Who Complete Non-Resident Federal Income Tax Returns Cannot E-File Their New York State Tax Returns
Some students will also need to file a New York State income tax return, either because:
   1. They wish to receive a refund of New York State income tax or
   2. Because the amount of wages earned is greater than the New York State income threshold requiring the filing of a state tax return.
Although New York State strongly encourages e-filing, it can only be used if the federal income tax form is e-filed. Since non-resident federal forms cannot be e-filed, you must fill out the New York State non-resident income tax forms yourself, based on the information printed on your federal non-resident form. Glacier Tax Prep does not prepare New York State tax forms. Watch ISSS-BU News for information on upcoming Webinars that will assist you with filing NYS non-resident income tax forms.

Don’t File Your Income Tax Forms Until You Have All of Your W-2s
If you worked for more than one U.S. employer during calendar year 2011 (for example, Sodexo Dining Services and the State of New York) you must wait to file your income tax returns until you have a wage and tax statement (usually a W-2 form, but sometimes a different form) from each employer. If your former employer(s) do not have your current mailing address, you need to contact them and request that the wage and tax statement be sent to you.

If You Will Be Issued Form 1042-S, You Cannot File Your Income Tax Form Until the 1042-S Arrives
Form 1042-S is also known as “Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.” This form has multiple purposes. It is used to report Tax Treaty-eligible income, as well as scholarships. By law, form 1042-S may be issued as late as mid-March. If you are the recipient of an athletic scholarship, dissertation year fellowship, or a US sourced scholarship such as a Fulbright or Muskie grant, OR if you worked for the State Payroll or Research Foundation Payroll and were able to claim the benefits of a tax treaty based on wages, a form 1042-S will be issued to you in March. This form is an essential part of your income tax filing. Do not file your income tax form until you have received it.

Getting Help with Your Income Tax Forms
The ISSS is in the process of developing a series of tax webinars, which will assist you with filing New York State forms, since all international students and scholars who were non-residents for tax purposes during 2011 can use Glacier Tax Prep for their federal forms. Watch for an announcement after mid-February.

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Last Updated: 3/13/12